Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Google Maps adds Traffic Information

trafficmapGoogle Maps has just activated real time traffic information to its maps. Information is taken from Intelematics, which you may recognise as the company behind the SUNA live GPS system that provides real time traffic information to GPS units through a discrete FM radio signal.

The breadth of coverage around Melbourne is staggering and Google plans to further expand traffic information by transmitting anonymous speed readings from those using the mobile version of the Google Maps Application.

traffichistoryAnother smart feature of Google’s traffic information is being able to look at historical information.  Say you want directions from Clifton Hill to St. Kilda around 5PM on a Saturday. The route usually would take you down Punt Road but potentially if historical information is smart it would tell you that Saturday afternoons along Hoddle Street are a nightmare because of footy traffic. Google has perhaps seen the success of it’s Flu Trends product in predicting likely occurance of traffic.

It’s amazing to think it that only three years ago, Google added the ability to actually look up an address on its maps and now we have real time traffic data.

Google Maps via [Official Google Australia Blog]

5% off Metlink Tickets

What better way to segway from John’s last post about his tram travels to another pubic public transport story. Buy your tickets online before the 8th of August and save 5% off plus  get free delivery.  Not too bad of a deal for those who actually validate their tickets although I have a feeling a fare increase may be coming soon.

Buy your Value Metcards online for 5 per cent off [via Ozbargain]

So what are we to do?

I hopped on a tram this arvo and there was a bunch of pothead bogans smoking weed at the back of the tram.

Moving to the front of the tram I sat down, trying to ignore the smell. Everybody around me were clearly trying to put up with it as well. The ‘don’t wana get involved’ mentality.

After awhile, I couldn’t put up with the smell anymore. The entire tram was filled with the stench. I walked over to the driver. Good thing the window was open.

“Hey mate could you please do something about the potheads at the back of the tram? We pay top dollar for public transport to travel in comfort, not put up with irresponsible people who live on the dole.”

“There’s nothing I can do about it, mate.” the driver retorted, without once glancing at me.

“Isn’t there anything you can do? Perhaps signal to the inspectors or the depot, to have some staff assemble at a tram stop up ahead? You do know they’re breaching the law here…” I profused.

“Sorry mate there’s nothing I can do,” said the driver as he slammed the window on me. How rude.

I couldn’t believe it. An elderly man, who is clearly affected by the smoke, gave me the ‘oh well’ look and shrugged his shoulders. Everybody but the potheads were looking at me. Well at least I bloody was trying! You guys just sat there expecting some sort of civility.

Actions speak louder than words. If people want something done, you’ve got to act on it. Why sit on your ass and put up with it when you’ve got your rights as a paying passenger? I’m appalled at the driver’s insensitivity to other passengers. Personally I just can’t tolerate dole bludgers and potheads who smoke with blatant disregard for the law. But what if there was a pregnant woman on board or little kids on board?

Just absolutely appalling.

Tram Woes and Myki

The media loves to jump on a good public transport bashing, even when unfounded. Yesterdays article in The Age, was about Melbourne’s 59 Combino trams having major cracks that needed to be repaired.  So you assume it’s going to be like our train systems, and trains will have to be canceled, people left waiting but…

“The cracks pose no risk to safety,”

“Siemens will fix the trams at no cost to the Government.”

“An increase in maintenance scheduling by Yarra Trams means that no tram services will be cancelled while the trams are being repaired. Two of the 59 trams have already been fixed and a third is under repair.”

So, it won’t affect services, it won’t affect safety and the government doesn’t have to pay for the repairs. Where’s the story?

“Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said the repairs raised questions about whether the trams should have been bought.”

Sure, but if they are going to fix it for free then who cares? Speaking of Daniel Bowen, he recently tried out the Myki system on one of the buses down in Geelong. Watching the video he took and reading some of his observations, it seems that this system still has a long way to go before it is ready to be deployed. The scanning system seems remarkably slow and at a cost of $1.3 billion, you would have thought they would have developed something better.


The Age: Latest model trams found to be cracking up I got a Myki, and it only cost $1.3 billion

5% off Metcards until April 5

This may be a bargain depending on how much you value Connex’s services but Metlink’s online shop is offering 5% off regular ticket prices until this Sunday April 5.

5 per cent discount when you buy:

10 x City Saver, 10 x 2 hour, 5 x Daily, 5 x Seniors Daily, Weekly, 5 x Weekend Daily and Monthly Metcards online.
Free postage. Minimum purchase of $10. Payable by Visa & Mastercard.

This year’s tickets for last year’s prices.

5% off tickets-Metlink Melbourne [via Ozbargain]

The Age reports on new cycling spending transport plan

It’s really good to hear cycling is now being formally recognised as part of the transport plan by the Victorian government, especially in Melbourne. It’s even better to hear the Premier recognise that regular commuting cyclists (existing and potential) not only get people healthier and happier, but also that every cyclist is one less car in congested traffic or one less passenger on the struggling public transport network.

Every commuting cyclist out there should feel proud that they probably do more to “keep Melbourne moving” (to borrow a slogan) than any new freeway could. Cyclists minimise congestion or public transport crush, maximise the carrying capacity of roads, maximise the availability of parking for those who need to use it (loading, couriers, the elderly or disabled), reduce the burden on the health care system from sedentary or stress related illness, reduce the family/workplace losses from early death or illness, and reduce use of polluting fossil fuels. All while having fun on wheels!

Accessed 24/03/2009 from The Age website / Peddling priority, Clay Lucas, March 24, 2009

When the road builders start riding their bikes to work instead of driving, it’s clear something different is happening. That was confirmed yesterday with the launch of the Victorian Cycling Strategy, a $115 million Brumby Government plan to get more people cycling.

A Melbourne City Council report issued in October showed that bikes as a percentage of vehicles in the CBD between 7am and 10am had risen from just 4 per cent in 2006 to 9 per cent last year.

In suburbs such as Northcote, Brunswick and Fitzroy, up to 13 per cent of adults now ride to work.

“(Cycling) is good for your personal health. It will get your blood pressure down, it will get your cholesterol down. It also takes pressure off the public transport system and our road system,” [Premier John Brumby said at yesterday’s launch of the bike plan that the new strategy aimed to boost cycling all over the state].

“Cycling is now an essential part of the transport plan,” the Premier said. “That is a big shift from where we were a decade ago, where really what funds were available to cycling were just an add-on.” Now [Premier Brumby’s government] has boosted spending levels [each year on cycling] to $18 million a year.

The reaction from Bicycle Victoria to yesterday’s plan was little short of euphoric. “This is a history-making document,” said Bicycle Victoria chief executive Harry Barber. “For the first time in Australia, bike riding has been formally recognised as part of the core transport system.” The era of “discrimination” — where bike riders were lucky to get a few left-overs when roads were built — had officially ended, Barber said.

Yesterday the Premier said Victoria needed the plan to achieve success in helping more people to start getting fit, and cycling was a great way. “We are losing more people from the non-communicable diseases than we are from the communicable diseases for the first time in our history. These are all the lifestyle diseases. The best way to counter a lifestyle disease is to keep fit and to keep healthier. And you can do it walking, you can do it running, or you can do it cycling. Every one of those people who is cycling into work in the morning could be someone who is using a car, could be someone using public transport,” he said.

See the full article for more about the plan.

The Yarra Freeway

Future Home of The Eastern-Yarra-Monash Connector

Future Home of The Eastern-Yarra-Monash Connector

A couple of months ago, I was reading the Herald Sun’s assessment on how New Year’s went, incident-wise. While the article wasn’t very interesting it did mention a bit about someone falling in the Yarra river and having to be revived.  Now, the thing the Herald Sun does that The Age misses out on is the comments. It’s amazing how many one eyed opinions there are from Herald Sun readers. This one comment stood out:

“The title of the story should be “No major incidents.” Or “Girl twist ankle, call to ban NYE.” It is clear the Yarra River does not serve a good purpose, it should be cemented up, and people can use it as a road way to get into the city. That would solve a lot of enviromental problems, and people will not fall into and get sick.

Posted by: JollyMunkie of Melbourne 8:09pm January 01, 2009

Jolly may be onto something. If we did turn the Yarra into a freeway it would ease much of Melbourne’s traffic. From Kooyong to Spotswood, the Monash could just be extended into an 8 lane freeway. From Kooyong up to Abbotsford, would be another freeway, bypassing the always busy Punt road. This would then connect to the Eastern Freeway at Dight falls. There ya go, we’ve saved countless lives from the Yarra as well as helping the traffic situation without the government even having to negotiate land rights.

Herald Sun: Ambulance services busy for Melbourne’s New Year celebrations

iTransit: iPhone, Mobile, Public Transport Application

itransitA few months ago, we reported to you on Metro, an application for the Iphone which provides real-time public transportation information. I had a play with ITransit, a similar program to Metro, but instead of an application it is a website fitted to work with an Iphone, a mobile device, or any other browser you throw at.

From the Yarra Trams website, one has to enter in their stop number, which you have to lookup based on the tram line and street via a popup box. Once you select your location, it is fed into the Yarra Trams website, where you then have to select the route again and then submit. Not too difficult but could be an easier process. This seems to be a new method on their website as previously you had to look up the number, copy, then paste the number back into the Yarra Trams box and submit.

With iTransit, you select what form of transport you want (tram),browse by route or stop number (browse by route), select direction, select stop, and then you are presented with the times of the next three trams after which you sigh because you were probably better off not knowing.  Trains are selected in a similar fashion and apparently they are working on a bus time tracker. I’ve never been on a bus that even remotely followed a schedule, so this will be interesting to see.

This definitely gives Metro a run for it’s money with it’s ease of use and ability to be used on any browser. Best of all, it’s free.


Melbourne Motor Show 2009

toyota_hc-cv_conceptWell, it’s coming up to “Marvelous March” which is kicked off with the annual motor show.  It’s going to be the toughest year in a while for many of the auto manufacturers, so hopefully they put some cars on display that will put them back on the track to profitability. According to a friend working at Holden, GM/Holden is cutting back on expenses this year and employees aren’t getting free tickets to this year’s show.

I went to the last couple of shows and found it was almost the same as the previous year’s show. The complaints from this blog going back a few years continue as many of the cars were locked.  The show was also very focused on family cars, and not too exciting although seeing the Lamborghini’s and Ferraris always do the job.  The biggest highlight for me was having my face massaged by a beautiful women but I digress.

Looks like hybrids and smaller/fuel efficient cars are the focus this year.  The Toyota HC-CV Camry concept seems like a good cross between convential Camry styling with a slight futuristc look.  Honda has their own hybrid to compete. I guess if you are in the market to buy a new car, it’s a helpful show but I probably would wait 5 years in between shows, although in 5 years time there may be dramatically less car companies on the road.

Melbourne Motor Show

Melbourne Exhibition Center, Now until March 9

Adults: $19  ($17 in 2006, $16.50 in 2005)


Public Transport rally this Tuesday

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) are holding a rally Tuesday lunchtime (from 11.30 am, speakers begin at Midday). It will be held at Parliament House (Bourke and Spring Streets) and will coincide with the first sitting day of parliament for the year.

A coalition of community groups, led by the Victorian Water Forum, is holding a rally to call on the Brumby government to listen to the people and provide real solutions on water, climate change and public transport. PTUA is supporting this call, and will be attending.

Come along to the front steps of Parliament in your lunch hour and stand up for better public transport and real action on climate change.

See the PTUA website for more information.

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