Friday, June 02, 2006

Blaming the victim again

I am getting a bit public transported obsessed, sorry.

Since traffic lights were installed at the corner of Toorak Road and Park Street South Yarra, it has become a dangerous intersection for passengers alighting from the tram. Anywhere where there are two lanes of traffic plus the tram in another lane and without separation, is dangerous. There are a few of these around Melbourne. It was bad enough when it was two lanes and the tram was in one of them.

The rot started with 'safety zones', where probably with approval from all concerned, the onus was switched from motorists to stop to let passengers get on and off the tram, to the passengers who now had to take care. Yes, they are safely off the tram in a refuge. If they get hit crossing the road, it is their problem. Of course passengers being stupid, as are motorists, that is what happens. But no longer anything to do with the tram.

At the above mentioned location a solution was needed to the problem. At least it has finally been realised that it is a problem. As usual, it was perfectly predictable in the design stage. So what to do? Install a safety zone? A superstop for a very high usage stop? Nope, we'll just move the stop around the corner into the much quieter Park Street.

Most passengers alight from the tram and either head into Fawkner Park or walk west down Toorak Road. Most will now just cross Toorak Road at random from the new stop, or use the lights legally and cross Park Street (there isn't a walk signal on the western side) and then Toorak Road. Maybe it will take one and a half minutes.

There are road laws about departure and approach distances for parked cars near tram stops, so it will also mean a loss of car parking spaces in a street where parking is at a premium. However, this is not always enforced, there are instances where there are marked spaces past a tram stop. It will be interesting to see whether this happens and what the reaction of Park Street residents will be if parking spaces are removed.

I am reminded of a few other instances. Remove the tram stop from outside Glenferrie Railway Station to the nearest intersestion where traffic lightswere being installed. It was even tried before without traffic lights, but had to revert. Remove the stop in Carlisle Street at the corner of St Kilda Road going towards St Kilda Beach or the city. After some serious aggression by hopeful passengers, this one had to revert too. One I did approve of, was the removal of the Gratten Street stop going towards the city in Carlton. It is so close to the University terminus, it is ridiculous, but public pressure had it reinstated.

So, as happens in life generally, the victim, the tram passenger, has been penalised, and the law breaker, the motorist, is given a free run.

I doubt I will bother contacting any authority about this one, but I can guess their response. 'In the interests of our passengers safety.............'


  1. Chapel St at Toorak Rd heading towards Prahran is another 2 lane death trap that needs a good bout of "Tramstop Blitz", but if you want supremely stupid, look at the intersections of Franklin/Swanston and Victoria/Swanston. Two stops located in both directions seperated only by intersecting roads. It's stupid, especially with Victoria St's light sequence.

    The trouble with stops at the moment is that removal is extremely difficult due to opposition from often lazy locals. In terms of efficiency, many stops could be removed, but there'll always be someone who uses it or will get pissed off with it gone. Second, moving stops around is also difficult, owing to the upgradin obligations. It's not just a matter of pulling up the pole and digging another hole anymore. New stops have to pass certain conditions and approvals before they can even consider the cash issue. Yes, it sucks and it doesn't make sense, but that's why a dictatorship would be so much better!

  2. I 'accidently' banged into the side of car at that Chapel Street stop once. Swanston/Franklin/Victoria is absurd. When I use trams, I want a fast smooth trip and I don't car if I have to walk a bit. I am not sure why some PTUA people are so against removal of tram stops. While some opinions on city stops may be valid (I have not thought about this a lot, but I haven't had problems with any changes yet), there are many out of the city that need a good rationalisation.