Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Green light

I have heard that there are plans afoot for some improvement in Melbourne's tram system.

I am trying to recall any real improvment in the last almost thirty years and I am scratching my head. Air con and heating I suppose. But actual service improvements......still scratching my head. Better Sunday services is one. Later services too, but then these are almost exclusively used by opportunistic travellers, that is, they see a tram and get on it. There are very few people who actually wait for a late night tram.

The latest work on traffic lights has been good, but so few have been done, it makes such a small difference.

Nope, out of ideas. All that really sticks in my mind is cuts to frequency. Suggest some improvements if you like but the cuts to frequency has been a killer. It has reduced the flexibility that you have when you have many trams not too far apart.

Anyway, what was the enemy, VicRoads, has become a friend of the trams. Perhaps they have realized that the better the trams move, the better cars move. Practically, it is political.
VicRoads have a lot of control over traffic lights. For the first time, this year 'No Right Turn' lights at some intersections were turned off on the public weekday holidays. I am quite sure that they did not send someone to switch it off in the box. It was done remotely. But I don't think they have full control of all intersections remotely, yet. They could certainly do a lot better maintaining the systems that don't work that are already in place to assist trams.

Here is the plan. If a tram is late, it will get priority at traffic lights. The later the tram is, the greater the priority. Sounds pretty good hey? Think it through. What is the major cause of tram delays? Traffic congestion in major shopping areas.

Take the road that I once heard described as the 'longest stretch of bible bashers in the world', aka Burke Road Camberwell/Hawthorn. Camberwell Junction is a significant place where trams are delayed due to traffic congestion. What could have been done years ago still has not. That is to insert a tram phase in the three phase traffic lights. So many simple and inexpensive things could be done all over the system to make it work better and faster.

The problem I see in greater priority for a late tram is the delaying effect on trams in the opposite direction. Can we trust VicRoads and the tram company to get it right? Not if you go by the farce of Toorak Road where hundreds of thousands were spent on a system that barely made a difference and is now totally ignored, including by VicRoads maintainance

1 comment:

  1. Toorak Road seems to be widely accepted as a flop.

    Clarendon Street did some interesting things, but got the locals off-side.

    Sydney Road is supposedly the new model. They're very pleased with that. And yes, VicRoads are making very strong pro-tram noises.


Democracy is all very well, but why give it to the people? - Audrey Forbes-Hamilton.