V/Line services officer Tina Herrera was a pioneer at Caroline Springs station when it opened in 2017. A former Philippines-based sales consultant, the working mum is all aboard with her new transport career. Located in one of Melbourne’s mega-growth areas, the Ballarat line station is now running two extra daily services to stay on track with demand.
What led you to this career?
I had a baby not long after arriving in Melbourne from the Philippines in 2014. When I thought about working again, a friend at V/Line suggested I apply for this job. I had no idea about public transport, but it was a customer-focused role. I started when the station opened in 2017 and was one of the pioneers! It was a culture shock; my first job in Australia and on a railway, but I really enjoy it!
What energizes you?
Meeting new people every day, helping them out and seeing a smile on their faces. It feels good helping passengers have a positive travel experience. My personality is very quiet, but in this job, I’m a different person!
What surprises you most about your role?
The diversity of people, different cultures, behaviours and personalities. Sometimes it’s hard to understand what people are saying, but I always work it out and get them the information they need.
What’s the job’s toughest aspect?
Dealing with unplanned events or disruptions. We don’t always know what is happening immediately, so the challenge is to find out, convey this to passengers and give them solutions.
How do you deal with challenging passengers?
People get upset or angry when things don’t go as planned, like a cancelled train, and they feel powerless. It’s important to empathise so their anger is not directed at you, but at the situation. I just actively listen and help with solutions, like waiting for the next train, catching a bus or sharing a taxi.
Best on-the-job experience?
One day there was an incident and all trains going to Melton and beyond on the Ballarat line were redirected to Deer Park where I was working. We were bombarded with hundreds of passengers, many screaming at us, and it was chaotic. Initially, we didn’t have any information about what was happening or when buses would arrive. It took three hours to clear all the passengers, which was hard work, but it felt good being able to help people reach their destinations, which is what’s important.
Why is maintenance and renewal work so important?
Melbourne’s population is increasing, so it’s important we keep up with people’s needs. These works will help keep things running smoothly and ensure there’s a reliable service to get people to their destinations.
What are the little things that can make a big difference?
People use their mobile phones for everything, so the myki app is very convenient and saves them carrying the physical card. Right now, it’s just for Android but hopefully it’ll be available on iPhone in the future. Real-time apps with journey updates are also useful, so if a train is delayed, customers can plan ahead.
Who are your passengers?
It’s very busy here at morning peak from 6.30am with regular commuters travelling to the city, and then again in the afternoon when they’re heading home. We also have school students going to Bacchus Marsh and a few commuters going to Ballarat.
What about weekends?
There’s less volume and more discretionary travellers, mainly families going to the city, especially if there’s a footy game or big event on. At night, there’s groups of young people heading to the city to party.