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.