In a recent post by Max at Cycling in Auckland I discovered that the Auckland train system will soon be electrified and those poor folks have had to put up with the old diesel trains that Perth got rid of years ago.
The Perth metropolitan trains system was electrified in 1991 and seems to have been improving continually ever since. The frequency has improved to the point where I don’t bother to look at timetables. I travel at all times of the day and rarely wait more than ten minutes.
One major advance has been the Smartrider electronic ticketing system. It has been in operation for about five years and uses a credit-card size smart card. Once you have loaded some credit onto the card you simply “tag-on” and “tag-off” as you enter and leave a train (or bus) and the fare is deducted from your card. It is very easy to use. I never have to think about having the correct change or what a particular journey is going to cost. There doesn't appear to be anything particularly special about the Perth system. I think similar systems are in use around the world. Singapore's MRT comes to mind.
Transperth allow bicycles on the trains without extra cost. There are restrictions at peak times going towards the city centre in the morning (7.00am to 9.00am) and travelling away from the city in the afternoon (4.30pm to 6.30pm). This is understandable because at these times the carriages are so full that it can be difficult to get to the door even without a bike.
Max asked for some examples of the bicycle carrying areas.
In each carriage there is a section designed for wheelchairs, bicycles and prams located next to the doors. From the outside of the train you can find the area by looking for the signs on the window. The idea is that you stand next to your bike and hold onto it while the train is moving so it doesn't roll around. The owner of this red bike disappeared down the carriage to get a seat but luckily it stayed in place.
I have noticed there are different sizes of holding area. The smaller one with the red bike shows that there is some obstruction of the door unless the bike is held at an angle within the bay.
This bay on another train has a bigger section cut away from the seating area and works better because the bike can be kept away from the door easily.