Thursday, October 09, 2008

Who should I blame?

I live in an area well serviced by public transport, trams, buses and major railway stations in two directions with a twenty five minute walk, or a ten minute tram ride. That is the theory.

So why did it take me an hour to get from home to see Little Jo in Murrumbeena? A trip that takes between 15 and 20 minutes by car.

I left home at 3.15 and R said he would pick me up at the station as sister was out and not due home until 4.30. I told him I should be there by 4.

I missed the 3.19 tram at the corner of Park Street and Toorak Road, even though it was late. I did not expect to catch it but I did see it round the corner.

The next tram was due at 3.31 but it was a few minutes late too. It was absolutely jam packed. I forced my way on. Problems: late tram and overloaded. Twelve minute service at a time when schools empty their loads is very inadequate. I would say a six minute service would be appropriate......why not round it to five.

Three sets of traffic lights for the tram to get across Punt Road ensured I missed the 3.39 train at South Yarra Station. Clearways for Toorak Road from 3 pm State Gov and Stonnington council.

I did know the next train time in advance, 3.58 express to Malvern, then stopping all stations. R was already at the station waiting for me a this stage. Of course the train was late, 3 mins.

I walked to the end of the platform, hoping that I might get a seat at least in the last carriage. Ha, I was lucky to be able to squeeze on the train at all. While I was waiting for the train, I did some simple arithmetic, 58 less 39 equals 19 minutes between trains on the very busy Pakenham line. No Vline train or Sprinter in between. What is the nonsense about separation gap that we hear from Connex? Like you need a twenty minute gap so trains don't run into the back of the train in front?

Things could have been slightly better in the train if there were the usual three doors, or as in the old days, multiple doors. But no, just two doors per carriage for people to enter and exit from a packed train.

This was the worst part for me. There was nothing for me to hold onto in the train. I moved my feet in different posistions to brace myself, depending whether the train was rounding a curve or stopping. I observed some people with the hands on the ceiling of the train. In the far distance I could see some hanging straps. Why aren't they along the length of the train. I thought I was doing well, but after Caulfield, the train lurched over a crossing and I fell, as did many of those around me who did not have anything to hang onto. I did not fall far as there was no space to fall. Someone caught me and gave me shove upright and a very nice young Indian man held my hand for several seconds until he was sure I was ok. Do I sound like a really old person? I did not think that I was that feeble.

The train paused for long periods at stations, presumably waiting for people to force their way off and on the train.

The train arrived at Murrumbeena at 4.19, now seven minutes late and one hour after I left home.

R was on the platform waiting for me. My greeting was, 'I am never fucking well doing that ever again'. I stomped up the stairs across the train line as a text arrived from my sister. Sorry, will be late, stuck in traffic on the Monash Freeway. Sister always underestimates travel times, but I could hardly critisize her, as she had taken my mother to her bridesmaid's funeral.

Things improved once sister arrived home. R and I took Little Jo to the park and had a great time on the play equipment. When we returned, the Bone Doctor was home from work and we knocked off a bottle of fine red to celebrate my forthcoming birthday (cash only please).

We all decided to bash off to the local Thai restaurant, Luk's Thai or similar, and had a nice meal.

And then stepped into the luxury of our personal motor car and drove home.

I don't blame the debacle of our public and private transport system on Connex, Yarra Trams, Minister Kosky or the Brumby Government. I sheet it firmly home to the Kennett and Bracks and Federal Howard governments.

Something about our transport system in Melbourne is seriously wrong folks.

But for the future, I may catch a tram to Flinders Street from there and at least get a seat on the train with my biggest problem being getting from my seat to the door when I arrive..........or, and I will need to check times, but catch the 67 tram to its terminus and it is not so far to walk to sister's from there. It used to be about 50 minutes from the top of the city to Carnegie, but I expect it is now about 40 minutes from home to Carnegie, plus a good ten minute walk. Even if that tram is packed, I will have a seat by Glenhuntly Road, if not before. Sister's idea and it may well be the answer. But then a less than twenty minute trip in the car is tempting. R will drive home from sister's in his car and I will drive home from sister's in mine. Doesn't make much sense superficially, but after today, it makes a lot of sense.


  1. The answer to the question posed in the topic lies within your answer - there are simply too many different faces of public transport in Melbourne. Yes, there is Metlink, but in addition there is the Dept of Transport (inc everyone's favourite minister), Yarra Trams, Connex, V-Line, plus a half dozen bus companies. Add to this the conflicting VicRoads, Local councils and anyone else I've missed out on and you have a real problem with too many cooks and very few ingredients provided by the cheapest contract bidder.

    It's bigger than Jeff, Steve and Johnny. It's the half-century old mentality that PT will always be a costly second-rate option and should never be placed before private transport. Almost every decision made about PT has been the worst-case ending. Extensions? Upgrades of lines/stock/etc? No, let's throw it all onto a ticketing system that won't work. Employ more staff? No, let's make the highest paid pubic servant in the state the Manager of the Transport Ticketing Authority.

    We should be turning one direction, but we always end up going the other way. If people were truly, really pissed off, there would be protests. Old fashioned marches on Parliament, that sort of thing. Until this happens, they will continue to play deaf and dumb.

    Here endith the rant.

  2. "So why did it take me an hour to get from home to see Little Jo in Murrumbeena?"

    Kidnapped by aliens?

  3. Sounds like a nightmare run, Rob makes a bloody good point though. I'm all for a good old fashioned protest anything to fix this disaster.

  4. No matter where I am in the CBD I always catch the train from Flinders St just so I can actually get on a carriage without training for the next Limbo Dance competition.
    It's a nightmare and I agree with Rob - always classed as second rate, probably due to the fact it was originally financed through a massive loan from Britain that could never have been paid off thus was tendered out to sloppy operators.

  5. Andrew,

    Do what I do: devote 1/6th of your blog posts to ranting about the inability of Kosky and Co to make a rational decision.

  6. Andrew, I agree. There is something very wrong with Melb's public transport. Peak hour trams are always packed. Falling over (or nearly)is a weekly norm. This week five or so people lost their footing and nearly fell around me. I was one of the things that broke their slide. Also saw a face off between two young male passengers aggravated by the claustrophobia, the pushing and the discomfort. It is just a mess.

  7. Excellent effort Rob. What concerns me is seeing many less men in suits on their way to work, on trams at least. These men are influential people and they are just rarely travelling nowadays. Well, there is no room for them anyway. They won't put up with the crap, and choose to drive cars.

    It would have taken much longer on a Fleetwood Bomber Brian.

    C'mon Kezza, you are a petrol head. You want better roads.

    I have looked at the tram option now Jayne, it would take longer. You are on the money.

    Just wait for the election promises cascading from Kosky in a couple of years Reuben.

    It is extremely un-nerving for someone not used to it LiD. I was shocked and there is no reason why the train would be any different to any other day. When I am using St Kilda Road/Swanston Street trams, I choose them very carefully and with until the right one comes along. Trouble is everyone wants the first tram as if it will be the last for the day. Better to wait a few minutes and travel in comfort.

  8. God just hates you because you are gay, and poor public transport is the work of the Catholic Church.

  9. andy B has a thing for lynne K

  10. I can live with God hating me Andy. I reckon it is all Archbishop Mannix's fault. If he had have caught the tram from Raheen to St Pat's and not stopped off for a cup of Robur with John Wren, we would have much better public transports.

    Do 'er would he Rob!