Yet Another Patronage-Related News Article

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Yet Another Patronage-Related News Article

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From The West Australian
Perth’s five-year decline in public transport use has been arrested but the result masks worrying trends.

Passenger journeys on Perth’s public transport network rose 0.7 per cent to about 141 million last year — a long way short of its 2013 peak of almost 149 million.

But an analysis of the latest patronage data shows another major fall in numbers on the Fremantle train line, a downward trend in bus passenger numbers and that our love affair with ferry travel since Elizabeth Quay opened is over.

The only bright light was a 500,000 boost in passenger numbers on the Armadale train line — though the increase was mostly because of lower numbers in 2017 caused by delays related to building Perth Stadium.

Fremantle line patronage recorded its seventh consecutive annual decline, falling another 290,000 journeys in 2018.

It is 30 years ago this year that the Court Liberal government closed the Fremantle line because of falling patronage. It was reopened four years later by the Burke Labor government.

After a massive spike in use after Elizabeth Quay opened in 2016, ferry use fell by about 42,000 (5.8 per cent) journeys last year to almost 732,000.

Bus patronage fell by about 520,000 journeys last year, after annual patronage in 2017 dipped below 80 million for the first time in six years.

In an assessment of Perth’s declining public transport use released last year, transport consultants Steven Piotrowski and Ian Wallis identified the need to make the city’s bus network more efficient by introducing more bus-only and queue-jump lanes and removing bus stops that were too close to each other.

Public Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes confirmed the Armadale figures reflected the disruptions caused by work to incorporate the stadium station into the network in 2017.

“This was particularly noticeable in the January comparison — January last year was up almost 50 per cent on January 2017, when we shut the line down for a couple of weeks,” Mr Hynes said.

Since the McGowan Government decided to keep the stadium train station open on non-event weekends, an average of 180 people have been using it on Saturdays and 85 on Sundays.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti has conceded that patronage numbers could be higher, but she said the latest figures showed that families and visitors were finding the stadium stop useful.

Perth’s least busiest weekend stations are Success Hill (October average of 124 patrons), Seaforth (170) and Chalis (209).
This is another of those articles that only pooh-poohs the Transperth network, and doesn't even touch on the issues that have contributed to falling patronage. The current State Government is investing in a number of public-transport projects, but more recently have commenced freeway widening on the Mitchell and Kwinana freeways in addition to altering the way part(s) of the freeway work to make them "smarter." All of this certainly isn't going to help public transport use.
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Re: Yet Another Patronage-Related News Article

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YES they have not touched plans for LRT System in north or south all other state are going forward
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Post by tonyp »

I get the impression that Perth is not yet past the tail-end of the end of mining boom slump and that recovery will be sluggish for a while. And what is CBD vacant office space like now. None of these contributory factors is mentioned by the West Australian (typical journalism).

How could people not use the Fremantle line? I'd give my eye teeth to have a line that operates that well and that fast in Sydney.
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Post by Squiddy »

tonyp wrote:I get the impression that Perth is not yet past the tail-end of the end of mining boom slump and that recovery will be sluggish for a while. And what is CBD vacant office space like now. None of these contributory factors is mentioned by the West Australian (typical journalism).

How could people not use the Fremantle line? I'd give my eye teeth to have a line that operates that well and that fast in Sydney.
I think the Freo line has a few issues. I don't live in the area but I use it fairly often so here's my thoughts:

- Too many stations. The Freo line has a crazy number of stations, I think it's around one per kilometre on average, but some are less than 600m apart. Trains just can't get up to speed before they have to start slowing for the next station. I'm not sure how it compares to driving speed-wise, but it does feel slow.

- Very few bus services connecting people to stations. With how short the Freo line is, most bus routes in the area simply run straight to the CBD rather than feed to a station. And the handful of stations that do have bus routes serving them don't have proper feeder service, they're just routes that happen to intersect, such as the 27 at Daglish and Circleroute down near Mosman Park and Victoria Street. Combined with...

- Little to no parking available at most stations. There isn't a lot they can do about this given the line's location, but the lack of parking combined with the lack of bus services means that unless you live within walking distance or are able to be dropped off it's not really possible to catch the train. But possibly the biggest factor...

- The Freo line runs through some of the wealthier areas of Perth, and people with money tend to avoid sitting on cramped trains with the masses when they have their own private vehicles.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I reckon those are some of the key issues with the Freo line, along with the its location making it very difficult to plan any sort of extensions or upgrades, and very little development going on in the area in general
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Squiddy wrote: - Too many stations. The Freo line has a crazy number of stations, I think it's around one per kilometre on average, but some are less than 600m apart. Trains just can't get up to speed before they have to start slowing for the next station. I'm not sure how it compares to driving speed-wise, but it does feel slow.
It's slow by Perth standards, but overall it's actually about 5-10 minutes faster than similar legacy lines in other cities.

Just try travelling on the Beenleigh or Cleveland lines in Brisbane, or any all stations train in Sydney, and you'll see what I mean ;)
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Post by tonyp »

My impression of the Fremantle line is how fast it is considering the station spacings! But then, I live over the other side of Australia:
13 km segment comparison:

Perth:
Perth-Mosman Park (13.5 km): 11 stops, 21 minutes
Perth-Beckenham (13.8 km): 9 stops, 19 minutes
Perth-East Guildford (14 km): 11 stops, 20 minutes

Sydney:
Central-Homebush (12.7 km): 11 stops, 27 minutes
Sydenham-Bankstown (13.4 km): 9 stops, 25 minutes
(Sydney Metro projected time for 13 km: Sydenham-Bankstown: 9 stops, 21 minutes)
Then of course there are the semi-expresses in peaks, which those Sydney lines don't have (except Homebush/Strathfield).

I understand the affluence factor (executive types with their own parking at work) and the buses not touching on the line, understandably on the peninsula south of Cottesloe, but north of that, buses touch on the line at Cottesloe and Claremont. Closer than that it's not really worth getting off the bus to interchange. Then there's the Fremantle traffic. The carparks along the line seem to me to never be full, so they're not getting fully utilised. Nothing to me stands out about the Fremantle line to separate it from the general train patronage slump of the past few years and the broader reasons for it.

I find it inexplicable for a Labor government to be widening motorways.
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Re: Yet Another Patronage-Related News Article

Post by tonyp »

BroadGauge wrote: It's slow by Perth standards, but overall it's actually about 5-10 minutes faster than similar legacy lines in other cities.

Just try travelling on the Beenleigh or Cleveland lines in Brisbane, or any all stations train in Sydney, and you'll see what I mean ;)
If you go on an online discussion in Perth and tell them that they have the best public transport in Australia, there's an immediate outbreak of incredulity and whinging. Once when I rang the Transperth info line to ask them about something and finished by complementing them on having Australia's best public transport system, the lady replied with a stunned "wow, thanks" and added "all we ever hear here is complaints!"

People will complain about anything except sitting in a traffic gridlock.
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The government wouldn’t need to widen the freeway if they had of proceeded with Roe 8 to provide that much needed east- west connection everything that’s being done is nothing more than just stop gap measures a railway link from Fremantle to Thornlie/Cockburn should be built as a priority over the Ellenbrook railway and once Roe 8 would have been completed and stock road upgraded we could have light rail or BRT linking Fremantle to Rockingham or Cockburn using the upgraded highway network they’ve shot themselves in the foot whilst ignoring crime and anti social behaviour on the network, Perth is also becoming less CBD centric and it doesn’t help that the number of CBD vacancies has increased


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Re: Yet Another Patronage-Related News Article

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tonyp wrote:My impression of the Fremantle line is how fast it is considering the station spacings! But then, I live over the other side of Australia:
BroadGauge wrote:It's slow by Perth standards, but overall it's actually about 5-10 minutes faster than similar legacy lines in other cities.
Certainly not going to debate the speed of our rail vs the rest of Australia, as the evidence is clear Perth's heavy rail network performs exceptionally well. Unfortunately, the average commuter won't take to using public transport based on arguments over W.A. versus the rest of the country. I've known of people to visit Sydney and return proclaiming how much better their railways are compared to Perth! :shock: They wouldn't believe for a moment that Perth's system is regarded as the best.
Squiddy wrote:Too many stations. The Freo line has a crazy number of stations, I think it's around one per kilometre on average, but some are less than 600m apart. Trains just can't get up to speed before they have to start slowing for the next station. I'm not sure how it compares to driving speed-wise, but it does feel slow.
I wonder if having so many stations on the heritage lines is part of the reason most don't have feeder buses in the same way the NSR and SSR do? I'd certainly walk 1-1.5km for a rail service, the same as I once did for a 15min bus service in my general vicinity.

At present the semi-express patterns on the Fremantle line mean a number of the lesser stations have worse peak frequency than off-peak. I wonder if the line could handle departures from either end every 5mins, or if the existing arrangements just wouldn't allow for it? Unless stations are removed in the coming years, I can foresee a need for semi-express trains in some form well into the future, although the question remains whether a very frequent all-stops service would ultimately be better (I'm thinking the 950 bus versus the previous Hodge-podge of routes with limited span and/or frequency)?
Squiddy wrote:Very few bus services connecting people to stations. With how short the Freo line is, most bus routes in the area simply run straight to the CBD rather than feed to a station. And the handful of stations that do have bus routes serving them don't have proper feeder service, they're just routes that happen to intersect...
It was either here on the ATDB (in a very old thread) or on a FB Group where feeders to the Fremantle line in the inner suburbs were discussed. The person responsible for a number of changes in the Western suburbs advised that creating a clock-face timetable held greater importance than sacrificing predictability for the few people that might wish to interchange at the railway stations these buses happened to pass by and/or terminate at. It is my understanding those changes were ultimately quite successful for the routes in question.
tonyp wrote:I get the impression that Perth is not yet past the tail-end of the end of mining boom slump and that recovery will be sluggish for a while. And what is CBD vacant office space like now.
I'm not particularly familiar with the inner areas of the Fremantle line, but I think there might be reasonable amount of offices in the City West/Leederville area, so greater office vacancies might have impacted the number of people using the Fremantle line to access these offices. Furthermore, I'm not sure if patronage for special events is included in the annual figures, but if so, with most events now being held at Perth Stadium, that would also account for losses in patronage.

I'm not inclined to think it's all bad - short-working 910s in peak have now been extended to Melville Plaza; evidently suggesting the existing service between the 111 and 910 to this area is quite well-utilised (which I can't really understand, apart from a few small apartment blocks, it's just suburbia!).
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And now The West Australian have come up with this lousy, Transperth-bashing article. It's not worth the hard-drive space it occupies, and I'm not even going to waste my time quoting it here.

A little bit of research would do this, and other naysayers a world of good.
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The West Oz wrote:...only cards they take are SmartRiders. On this, where the hell do you get these? Do Australians apply for them at birth, like a passport? Nobody gave me one during my citizenship ceremony. I’m told they sell them at newsagents but the corner shop in my neighbourhood doesn’t even sell Lotto tickets.
Mind reading a bit of the this? If you don't have spare change, go shopping and take a cashout. Or buy something just under your cash amount.
The West Oz wrote:So, I trek into the train station and try and get change through the ticket machine. Forget it, the bloody thing spits the $20 note back at me quicker than a camel with food poisoning.
A camel with food poisoning? Pretty bad simile. Read the bloody instructions on the ticket machine. $9.90 Maximum change. Off-putting, yes, but if you had read it, you would have one less thing to complain about.
The West Oz wrote:It’s then I’m asked to select a “zone”. Well despite my best efforts I can’t figure out what zone I’m in...
No, no, no. Select the zone you wish to travel to. Perth, Z1. City-centric, not too hard. Not going to bother with the rest, it's obvious she does not want to look for an upside. Do us all a favour and go to Sydney.
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Miss Richards seems to be a word that I wouldn't be allowed to write on ATDB!
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The West Oz wrote:Now I know some of you may think I’m plain stupid
Yep, she's exactly right. As with anything, it pays to do even the slightest bit of research before setting out somewhere, especially something you've never really used, rather than 'sussing it out as you go'. There's five minutes of my life I'm not getting back
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Somewhat in-line with the patronage theme of this thread* is the announcement by the Transport Minister to review the current zonal fare structure:
The West Australian wrote:Transport Minister Rita Saffioti will review the zone payment structure for Perth’s train system, as the McGowan Government launches a major advertising blitz to encourage people to use public transport.

Unveiling the transport campaign, Ms Saffioti said she believed there were some issues with the current zone structure for the train network – which is sometimes criticised as confusing to tourists and irregular public transport users.

But the Transport Minister promised that any restructure of fares would leave commuters no worse off.

“I think fares are reasonable,” she said.

“I think there are some issues and I raised them in opposition about the complexity of the fare structure. So it’s something that we will be looking at in particularly the amount of zones in particular in NSW and Victoria who have simplified their zone structure.

“What we will do is make sure people are not worse off.”

The Government’s $1.25 million transport campaign seeks to push commuters to give the train and bus network a go, arguing it is quicker and cheaper than driving and parking in the CBD.

The Government admitted data showed only limp growth in the use of public transport, though the decline that began in 2013 had been reversed.

Figures show there was just a 0.74 per cent increase in overall patronage of the transport network in 2018.

Ms Saffioti rejected suggestions the slow growth raised questions about the Government’s plan to pump billions of dollars into its Metronet scheme, arguing more people would use the network if it was extended to and needed investment was made.

“Part of Metronet is catching up with that growth,” she said.

In addition to the ad campaign, the Government is developing a new app to make catching trains and buses easier and upgrading the SmartRider system to enable debit card and smartphone tag-on capabilities from 2021.
* I include this news snippet here because it relates to the issue of patronage on the Transperth network, plus I do not see any need to create a new thread in this quiet sub-forum. If the Moderator(s) wish to split the discussions up, they are certainly free to do so.
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Post by Bus Suggestions »

Same author, same newspaper, new story about the network again. Just give up already, you ain't impressing anyone with your stories.
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Since it is related to patronage, I thought I'd put this in here:
Number of Train Users On The Rise by the Mandurah Coastal Times.
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Bus Suggestions wrote:Since it is related to patronage, I thought I'd put this in here:
Number of Train Users On The Rise by the Mandurah Coastal Times.
Love how they try to spin it as "Train Users on the Rise" when that's only a part of the improvement seen this past year. :lol:

Have been periodically looking up the numbers on the PTA website during the last year. Even amidst the industrial action this time last year, the bus network still managed to grow patronage. A number of services in the areas I frequent have become noticeably busier during the past six months, perhaps a knock-on effect since the Stadium has introduced (or reintroduced) many to public transport. There has been a lot of ongoing tinkering and fiddling with services which has undoubtedly helped; some of the recent changes focus on improving night and weekend services which is great.

Personally I'll be interested to see how much of a difference the removal of the semi-express stopping patterns on the Fremantle and Midland lines make; as in my opening post the article I quoted mentioned numbers on the Fremantle line were slumping.
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Post by tonyp »

It's good to see patronage growing again. It would be rather demoralising to put so much effort into creating Australia's best overall public transport system only to have the locals not appreciate that and not use it.
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Rather than start a new thread, this one seems a good enough place to put the quoted media release from the RAC.

As you'll read, some fairly damning survey results have just been produced by the RAC concerning bus punctuality and patronage. There's also a fairly interesting document attached evaluating some of the benefits of bus priority.
RAC wrote: Calls for bus priority to reclaim patronage
Tuesday 22 June 2021

RAC is calling for better priority for buses with a new survey revealing just half of regular public transport users believe buses in Perth are reliable – a 20 per cent drop over the last year.

According to RAC’s Public Transport Member Tracker, only 53 per cent of regular public transport users believe Perth buses are reliable – down from 74 per cent in 2020. Forty-three per cent of regular peak hour motorists would be more likely to use public transport if high-frequency buses had their own dedicated lanes.

It comes as the latest figures from the Public Transport Authority (PTA) show public transport use in March was still down by nearly 20 per cent compared to March 2019. RAC’s own analysis of traffic volumes in March also showed traffic across Perth main roads was up to 11 per cent higher compared to pre-pandemic levels.

RAC General Manager External Relations Will Golsby said giving more priority to buses was a low-cost way to encourage more people to return to public transport.

“The potential of Perth’s public transport system is limited if our buses are stuck in traffic. Increasing bus priority across popular routes would allow services to run more frequently and reliably, making them more appealing to commuters,” Mr Golsby said.

“The WA Government has taken important steps to enhance public transport, including investing in Perth’s rail network and introducing a two-zone cap on public transport fares, however more needs to be done to address the cost of congestion in our state, which before the pandemic was predicted to more than double to $3.6 billion a year by 2031.

“Research shows dedicated bus lanes can carry up to four times the number of people per hour compared to mixed traffic lanes with frequent buses.”

The PTA’s own analysis has shown bus lanes installed on Beaufort Street increased boardings on the 950-route by almost 40 per cent. Buses travelling during the morning peak experienced a 7.5 minute saving on travel time, while bus reliability improved by 65 per cent.

RAC is calling on the WA Government to develop and fund a bus priority plan that will deliver a network of bus lanes and other bus priority measures along high-frequency bus routes.

“In the right locations, smarter technology, bus priority corridors and even bus-only streets could also be extremely effective at helping reduce congestion in Perth,” Mr Golsby said.

“These measures would support current investment in our train network, helping to shape the future of Perth as a more connected and liveable city.”

Further information can be found in RAC’s Bus Priority Mobility Bulletin.

Media contact: Mikayla Wearne, 0401 703 719 or media@rac.com.au
Just in relation to the matter of congestion, even before COVID, it often seemed weekend congestion on arterial roads was often worse than inter-peak periods during the week! That only worsened after COVID scared everyone away from public transport. With this issue, I maintain that it is a sign of public transport just not being convenient for the sorts of leisure trips and errand-running people do on the weekend - even getting to a major shopping centre just 5-10mins drive away from your residence can be a rather slow affair. No wonder people drive.
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Merc1107 wrote:Rather than start a new thread, this one seems a good enough place to put the quoted media release from the RAC.

As you'll read, some fairly damning survey results have just been produced by the RAC concerning bus punctuality and patronage. There's also a fairly interesting document attached evaluating some of the benefits of bus priority.
RAC wrote: Calls for bus priority to reclaim patronage
Tuesday 22 June 2021

RAC is calling for better priority for buses with a new survey revealing just half of regular public transport users believe buses in Perth are reliable – a 20 per cent drop over the last year.

According to RAC’s Public Transport Member Tracker, only 53 per cent of regular public transport users believe Perth buses are reliable – down from 74 per cent in 2020. Forty-three per cent of regular peak hour motorists would be more likely to use public transport if high-frequency buses had their own dedicated lanes.

It comes as the latest figures from the Public Transport Authority (PTA) show public transport use in March was still down by nearly 20 per cent compared to March 2019. RAC’s own analysis of traffic volumes in March also showed traffic across Perth main roads was up to 11 per cent higher compared to pre-pandemic levels.

RAC General Manager External Relations Will Golsby said giving more priority to buses was a low-cost way to encourage more people to return to public transport.

“The potential of Perth’s public transport system is limited if our buses are stuck in traffic. Increasing bus priority across popular routes would allow services to run more frequently and reliably, making them more appealing to commuters,” Mr Golsby said.

“The WA Government has taken important steps to enhance public transport, including investing in Perth’s rail network and introducing a two-zone cap on public transport fares, however more needs to be done to address the cost of congestion in our state, which before the pandemic was predicted to more than double to $3.6 billion a year by 2031.

“Research shows dedicated bus lanes can carry up to four times the number of people per hour compared to mixed traffic lanes with frequent buses.”

The PTA’s own analysis has shown bus lanes installed on Beaufort Street increased boardings on the 950-route by almost 40 per cent. Buses travelling during the morning peak experienced a 7.5 minute saving on travel time, while bus reliability improved by 65 per cent.

RAC is calling on the WA Government to develop and fund a bus priority plan that will deliver a network of bus lanes and other bus priority measures along high-frequency bus routes.

“In the right locations, smarter technology, bus priority corridors and even bus-only streets could also be extremely effective at helping reduce congestion in Perth,” Mr Golsby said.

“These measures would support current investment in our train network, helping to shape the future of Perth as a more connected and liveable city.”

Further information can be found in RAC’s Bus Priority Mobility Bulletin.

Media contact: Mikayla Wearne, 0401 703 719 or media@rac.com.au
Just in relation to the matter of congestion, even before COVID, it often seemed weekend congestion on arterial roads was often worse than inter-peak periods during the week! That only worsened after COVID scared everyone away from public transport. With this issue, I maintain that it is a sign of public transport just not being convenient for the sorts of leisure trips and errand-running people do on the weekend - even getting to a major shopping centre just 5-10mins drive away from your residence can be a rather slow affair. No wonder people drive.
Doing shopping using solely public transport isn’t a pleasant experience especially if you have a lot of big bulky items more bus lanes would be a good temporary solution however light rail would be more beneficial over the long term even though patronage is down TransPerth is still one of the better performing transport systems post COVID


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Re: Yet Another Patronage-Related News Article

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“Bus lanes can carry up to four times the number of people than a mixed lane with frequent buses”.

This. This is what we need people to understand. The hardest part about implementing bus lanes is that people think that losing a lane of traffic will increase congestion. But it actually does the opposite and encourage people to use the bus due to increased speeds and reliability. This means that lesss people will be in cars and those who do have to drive have a faster and safer commute too.

Bus lanes are one of the cheapest, yet most effective ways to get people onto public transport. Local governments need to see serious investment in them ASAP. I don’t understand why they are such a hard thing to implement.
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The figures are a bit of a stretch, given WA has been the least affected by COVID TransPerth has seen the most successful rebound post COVID and is currently outperforming Sydney Trains Image
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Merc1107
Posts: 986
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 6:38 pm
Favourite Vehicle: High Floor Buses
Location: Perth

Re: Yet Another Patronage-Related News Article

Post by Merc1107 »

The original post has been edited to include the correct link for the end of the article quoted.

And for anyone wondering what corridors might receive bus priority measures in the coming years, the PTA's Major Road Corridor Review 2018 is an interesting read that evaluates quite a number of different parts of the network. I wish they'd get cracking on some of these - they'd be a great, low-cost addition to Metronet, which has really only focussed on grandiose projects for the outer-suburbs thus far.
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