Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Half route trams

There is a proposal by Yarra trams to run St Kilda Road tram services only to St Kilda Rd and passengers then change, at I assume an interchange, to a St Kilda Rd shuttle. These shuttles would run every two minutes. See Tuesday's The Age.

I haven't given this a lot of thought yet and I hope the PTUA can come up with a thoughtful analyisis but I instinctively don't like it.

1/ Loss of green space, that is the media strips where interchanges would be built.

2/ It will do nothing to help if a tram breaks down in St Kilda Road. This is a specious argument and it makes me cynical. Trams will break down, and it matters little whether it is a suburban bound tram or St Kilda Road tram. You will be delayed, just the same.

3/ A two minute service interval in St Kilda Road is inadequate in the peaks. It would be very good at night time though.

4/ Passengers get settled in the seats for a long journey. Close your book, take reading specs off, change trams. Old ladies lose their favourite seat that the have scheemingly obtained.

5/ Much delay is caused by the Domain Road Interchange. It does not work well and trams can face a red light upon arrival, load and unload at the interchange and face another red light as the tram is about to depart. Drivers using the toilet facilities seem to be a major cause of delay at this point also.

6/ Yarra trams has requested funding for 250 new trams. If there are not to be more frequent peak services added these will replace all of the Z and A class trams and some will be left over. I understand that Yarra Trams is presently experimenting with aircon for the newer Z trams and A trams. Why, if they are to be replaced?

7/ A major rework of St Kilda Junction would be required. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it would require a lot of sympathetic co-operation by VicRoads.


  1. People could always ride bikes!

  2. The real problem on St Kilda Rd is the waiting time at traffic lights. Get rid of that, and it would solve trams bunching. Some separation from cars would reduce accidents.

    Obviously quick recovery from breakdowns/accidents is also important, and not really solved by this plan (though extra shunts might help).

    As for shuttles... passengers would hate it. And while many only use the services between St Kilda Road and the city, there's plenty who travel between St Kilda Road and the suburbs -- or indeed from city to suburbs. Mess with their commutes too much and they'll go back to their cars.

  3. Yes, M!key. Indeed they should. The more you ride, the easier it is.

    Daniel, I see waiting times as insoluble as pedestrians need to be given a fair go to cross the road. Excessive time for the blind institute and the insertion of a tram phase at Union St excepted.

  4. Andrew, I'm generally in favour (usual caveats about it being done properly et cetera). It is based on sound engineering principles for designing complex systems. I agree with some of what you say, but I think you're being unduly negative.

    1) The trams lie in the centre of the road, not against the median strip, so if a third line and a larger stop are put in it will be at the expense of car-parking or a lane of traffic. Not a bad thing.

    2) Not true. For two reasons: one, it allows you to isolate the rest of the line against problems on St. Kilda Rd. So while a passenger on St. Kilda Rd. is still delayed (unless they can walk to their interchange), passengers who embark at say, South Yarra station, to travel along Toorak Rd. won't be delayed because the Carnegie tram stopped in front of the No. 8 near the Arts Centre. And two, as Daniel said, the idea is to put in extra shunts at stops, which should allow them to clear the line faster.

    3) True, but the nice thing about a shuttle tram is that timetabling is easier, because you are scheduling trams where you need them, rather than along a long route with many potential slow-down points. Two minute schedules might be sufficient if bunching can be avoided. At the moment bunching is mainly caused by timetabling conflicts from having so many lines converging at once. It will occur for different reasons if they make these changes; the shuttle tram will have to wait for a whole tram load of people when they get to the interchanges, which will both slow down the shuttle and cause some angst if it becomes full. They might need to make the shuttle tram extra long to accomodate this (again, not a bad thing)

    4) I agree. It depends on whether the benefits outweight the costs. It is also worth noting that commuters don't have any problems changing trains in London or Paris, just so long as they come quickly.

    5/7) Again, true, but I gather the point is to try and fix this problem.

  5. 1/ Perhaps
    2/ The same number of trams will break down. Fair point about the numbers of passengers delayed and their location. Any nearby space to store a broken down is very useful.
    4/ Coming quickly is the point. I think people will wear it and get used to it, so long as there is not a long waiting time involved.

  6. Non-breakdown issues will always delay as well. When a door goes off and takes five minutes to fix etc.. Would they boot everyone off that tram, run it into the spare siding, fix the door and then run it out again. More wasting of time.

    Not the worst idea ever though, just fanciful to think that it'll solve problems.

    Perhaps they could just run this in peak hours?

  7. Different things at different times confuses people, such as when 16 started going from the City to Kew, weekdays, not weekends. Even after years the 79 running only after seven pm, so many don't know.