Obey the yellow – yeah, right.

Driving down Glenferrie Rd at 6:45 yesterday morning, I found myself stuck behind a number 16 heading North. It was limping along at 15km/h as it does every day – so it wasn’t faulty. With so many cars parked in the lane we’re supposed to drive in, I had to join the queue of people who couldn’t pass it.

Why does it move so slowly? Does the driver receive some sort of bonus for delaying everyone or is he/she trying to stick to an ill-planned timetable which hasn’t allowed for the relative lack of passengers waiting along the route?

Traffic congestion in Melbourne has reached its deliberately planned peak and our ever-fumbling government now wants to burden us with a tax for daring to get from A to B. While it won’t solve the problem completely, here’s an idea for you… Forget all the nonsensical sentiment and get rid of the trams – replace them with buses!

While the Tramway and Omnibus company were visionaries that provided our wonderful city with this portion of our public transport system, they for reasons I cannot fathom, positioned them in the center of the road. So wherever a tram shares the road with other motorists, every time it stops to let people off, it forces all forward traffic to halt.

When combined with extra traffic lights, speed humps and reduced speed limits everywhere, it’s no wonder Victoria is no longer on the move.

9 Comments so far

  1. adrock2xander (mel_john) on August 3rd, 2008 @ 12:11 am

    Welcome to the team Private. About time we blooded some new recruits.

    Urban road planning in the inner city sucks balls. They need to make tram lines for trams ONLY. Not some mongrelled, bastardised excuse of a tram line that cars utilise too. Remove off-road parking and if not feasible, charge them cars an exorbitant half-hourly fee to encourage clear passageway.

    Re the trams: Don’t forget tram drivers have to adhere to a strict schedule. I assume the driver was early and was slowing down to arrive at, say Tram Stop 44 at 7:02AM instead of 6:58AM. Eh, I guess you wouldn’t know that coz you don’t take the trams?

  2. sokru on August 3rd, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

    Oh I definitely take trams. Daily. For years. But to be honest, tram timetables puzzle me. Not because they’re difficult to read, but because they’re so inconsistent.

    Tram drivers may indeed be instructed to stick to a tight schedule, although I’ve got to say that it really depends which stop you’re waiting at, as to how strict that timing is. The 109 between Kew and St Vincents would be a good example.

    If the tram is due at 4:56, then it should be there at 4:56. Some days you can get to the stop at 4:50 and it’s already passed through. Other days it won’t arrive until 5:06. If they want to stick to a timetable, they should be at each stop at the time they’re meant to be there.

    Many a time I’ve stood waiting for a 109 which is scheduled to arrive, but it just doesn’t. Then often the next one doesn’t arrive either, or is way off schedule. While I’m waiting though, as many as six or seven 109’s will shoot past going the other way. I can only assume they’re heading back to the depot on mass, because none of them ever seem to come back.

    Sadly our trams are consistently inconsistent.

  3. maree on August 3rd, 2008 @ 5:37 pm

    There are a few interesting points this post raises. (Apologies, its a long comment).

    1. The last statement about Victoria being "no longer on the move" is something I’d have to disagree with, as not ALL Victorians drive all that often, and may of these probably move around OK. Many opt for one of – or a combination of – bus, tram, train, walking and cycling to move around, and many of those probably don’t have to worry about glaring at the speedo. It would be hard to imagine the troubles we would have moving around if EVERYONE drove all the time. Cars for the most part take up the most physical space per person being moved. If everyone thought roads were all about cars, we really wouldn’t be moving as Melbourne’s roads would be like a parking lot!

    2. There is the concept of sharing the road that seems to get forgotten by many road users. Roads are areas where each user needs to share so that the whole concept of transportation works more smoothly. A car needs to share the road with other road users, just like any other road user needs to share the road with cars. Pedestrians, for example, would often be able to travel faster if they didn’t have to wait for cars to stop at red lights. Trams would often be able to travel faster if cars were not blocking the tram lines when it is congested. Road users going one direction are slowed down by those going another when lights change. Road users occassionally have to stop for a train at a level crossing. At one time a particular road user is being slowed down for the sake of anothers passage, and at other times the situation is reversed. That’s sharing the road. That’s how modern roads work. When you get a car license you are saying you know how to share the road. As a road user you sign an kind of agreement that you’re not the only one out there on the road, and that you will occassionally have to be patient. It’s not worth getting annoyed by it because it is just modern life. Just go with the flow, and you’ll be a happier person, perhaps even live longer, or at least get less wrinkly with frown lines.

    3. The concept of mass transit such as buses, trains and trams, versus the private car: Fairness would say mass transit should get more space on the road because there are more people per square metre anyway, and they are using the road more efficiently. Often cars have only one person in them! As well as amount of energy used per person to move the people.

    4. The concept of electric transport versus oil-powered. Electricity has the posibility of being more easily retro-fitted to use low-emission, renewable (not finite) resources of energy. It might take a 3 or 4 year project for infrastructure to be built to power Melbournes trams and trains by renewable clean power; it would take a lot longer to switch all oil-powered vehicles to alternatives. When petrol gets to $3, $4, or $5 a litre in a few years time you might even be glad for trams.

    5. Tourism. Melbourne’s businesses make a lot of money from visitors to this great city. Trams play a bit part in helping tourists find they way around.

    6. Tram culture. Many Melbournians love their trams. They’re not perfect, but they are one of the defining characteristics of Melbourne.

    7. Last time I looked, tram lines weren’t on every road in Melbourne. If its such a big problem, maybe there is an alternative route?

  4. sokru on August 3rd, 2008 @ 8:00 pm

    Interesting points Maree. I think all I really want is a reliable, clean, reasonably priced system that doesn’t focus on shoehorning more and more people into fewer and fewer services in order to save a few dollars.

    In the times I choose to drive and indeed share the road, I would love it if trams would do the same. Priority is always given to them so they aren’t delayed – but what about everyone else who gets delayed behind them?

    I can avoid the roads with tram routes on them, but that’s not really the answer.

    Public transport tickets are already running in the $3-$5 price range for a two hour ticket. It’s not like there’s much of a financial benefit to using it. By the time petrol is that much a litre, we’ll be no doubt be paying $8-10 for a 2 hour ticket.

    Our system is sub-par and overpriced. When less people use it, the operators just increase the ticket price for those who use it – rather than fixing the things that are wrong with it.

    Going with the flow may lead to less stress, but at what cost later on?

  5. Shake, baby, shake | Rio de Janeiro Metblogs (pingback) on August 4th, 2008 @ 3:00 am

    […] seus problemas quando se trata de deslocar grandes massas de suas populações. Ontem mesmo visitei Melbourn virtualmente e pude acompanhar uma longa discussão a esse […]

  6. squirt (mel_corinna) on August 4th, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

    VERDADEIRO. Apesar Melbourne’s questões de transporte público, ainda é um belo lugar para morar.

  7. squirt (mel_corinna) on August 4th, 2008 @ 10:39 pm

    I meant to say, "True. Despite Melbourne’s public transport issues, it is still a beautiful place to live. Translation courtesy of google translate.

  8. andrew on August 4th, 2008 @ 11:48 pm

    Stick to ill planned timetable is correct. You must remember, they are suffering from going slow too, and there is probably quite a few of them on the tram, who could be potentially motorists and another thirty cars in front of you may not be so pleasant either.

  9. maree on August 5th, 2008 @ 10:35 am

    Nicely said andrew.

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