Every year, a bunch of absolute bastards get together and squeeze blood out of a stone in order to get services running overnight for New Year's Eve. Rules are truly thrown out the window in order to accommodate such a massive demand. I will tell you now - every shift is absolute shit. Starting at all hours of the day and night with every driver rostered to work isn't nice. Working on a stinking hot night with squillions of passengers isn't fun either. Failing to learn from mistakes in the past doesn't help the situation either, but that's not as bad as it used to be.
Yes, working on the trams sucks everything on NYE. When turning up to work, every driver checks out their shift to see if they're in the city at ground zero when the fireworks finish. Some years, a Matrix-style bullet dodge happens, but with most years you seem to end up in the shit with everyone else. Here's what often goes wrong:
1. As soon as the last firework finished, everyone runs to that first tram like it's a life raft on the Titanic. Why? Because nobody wants to get stuck with that massive crowd. But this is silly because trams are running all night. If you relax, take your time and wait 30-60 minutes, the crowds tend to disappear quite quickly. Yes, we all want to go home, but unless you want to crush yourself with a tram full of desperados, give it some time.
2. Due to the loading, doors malfunction and trams can break down. I've had the pleasure of having a door become defective on a trip out of town and yes, it's never the front door. Depending on how drivers approach it, you can get abuse or support. If you end up causing door problems, you can catch the tram behind. We're running all night long, and very frequently for a good period of time after NYE. Having repair crews who are only able to fix certain classes of trams posted at key points shared by many classes of trams is pretty shitty, too.
3. Ground staff who haven't worked late with large crowds for 12 months can make or break a night. While most of the support staff can be awesome, there are a few who just aren't suited to the task. They lack patience and skill. We often see staff all yellow-vested up who we've never seen before, which is always a thrill. And posting huge numbers of staff at quiet areas is just plain stupid. Staff need to be able to move around and go to where the work is required. This comes down to inadequate supervision.
4. After the event, drivers need to inform their managers what was great and what failed on the night. It's the only way to do something about it. Bitching about it to fellow drivers won't magically solve the problem (in fact, it makes it worse). Write a report about the good and the bad, and suggest some solutions. The same goes for members of the public. If something could be improved, let the company know. Fire off an email, give them a call, but do something. Same goes if something was awesome. It's nice to know our efforts to make it smooth go noticed (We usually get a stock letter from the CEO saying well done, but it's always the same).
While I'm sure everyone has their own stories of NYE hell, there are plenty of things that can be done to make the last night of the year bearable. If I don't see or speak to any of you on the night, have a safe New Year's Eve and all the best for 2013. If the myki apocalypse doesn't kill us before.