Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Preston, for once only

We have taken various Sunday trips at different time using public transport. We have explored Kensington, Clifton Hill, Hurstbridge, Belgrave, Thornbury and other places. The PT has always been pretty good, but not so yesterday, what a fail.

'R, Preston Market is supposed to be quite good. Care to visit?' I checked on the net and it is not open Sunday. Still, there appears to be a shopping centre there. We will go anyway.

We caught the 86 tram and I knew it was quite a long trip, so afterwards I planned that we would get the much quicker train home. There was the usual array of 'interesting' north side fellow travellers on the tram. It was a pleasant enough trip. I noticed the traffic looked extremely heavy in High Street coming into the city. Ouch, I just saw a bus pass with Train Replacement on its destination. This is not looking good.

We alighted at Gower Street and wandered along the street of generally awful houses to the main shopping. If you have heard of fake brick cladding but never seen it, try Gower Street Preston. The whole area was depressing and I felt my usual sense of unease when I am out of my areas that I know, especially northside.

We took a lap of the shops and there wasn't a shopping centre to be found. In fact we could not even find a place we liked the look of enough for coffee, let alone something to eat. I thought the area would very Greek and Italian, but no, not now. Very Asian.

We walked towards the city along High Street and the landscape become bleaker and more industrial. We were surrounded by heavy traffic. Long lines of cars in all directions, mixed with normal service buses and train replacement buses. We arrived at Bell Street, ah Bell railway station. Not only was the station closed, so was the road to it. A kindly young roadworks guard lass directed us to the train replacement bus stop. Bit of a walk to the tram (closer than I thought by the map I just looked at, as the road tapers) but I think we will regret getting the train bus. We did.

Of course as soon as we reached the bus stop, all the buses we had been surrounded by had disappeared. After a ten minute wait a bus arrived and we took almost the last available seats. It was full of Collingwood football supporters on their way to the match. I had some news for them. You will probably miss kick off the first bounce at the MCG.

The bus continued down High Street and although because of the earlier heavy traffic I had thought it would be very slow, we seemed to be doing well enough. And then the bus turned right and the proverbial hit the fan. I think we turned off to service Northcote Station. The traffic was banked back for miles. We turn left into St Georges Road and the traffic was banked back for miles. There were road works everywhere, blocked lanes, witches hats galore, aggressive and frustrated motorists pushing in front of the bus. People we getting stressed, the bus driver was clearly getting stressed.

Another turn around a tight corner where the bus pretty well travelled across the grass in a park, several speed humps, roundabouts far to tight for a bus so that the bus kept going over the top of the roundabouts and then over the far kerb. The bus driver did a superb job.

We were dropped at Clifton Hill Station. There were lots of helpful uniformed staff and we were directed to the nearest platform, 2. But this is the outbound platform. Today it was also the inbound. There was a city bound train at platform 1 and we could have caught that but no, wait for the train here. It arrived after a few minutes bu then sat there for five minutes. We left the station on what I consider is the wrong track in the wrong direction. At speed we hit the crossing point onto the correct track and R nearly fell out of his seat, such was the lurch. I guess the train on platform 1 went express to Jolimont. Ours stopped all stations. It was now an hour after we left Preston and we still weren't in the city. It would have been a 23 minute trip if the train was running.

We still hadn't eaten. R, how about a bowl of wedges and coffee at Riverland at Federation Wharf. He was happy with that, but then the train went via the City Loop. F F F. Ok, Melbourne Central and we will go to QV and that is what we did. The city was crowded, but at least familiar.

Now railways do need to be maintained and works have to be done, but that was an utter disgrace. Public transport, the train replacement buses need to have a clear run and not get mixed up in traffic jams and not have to navigate obstacle courses. For a start, why was there road works everywhere when the train system was being worked on? It was annoying to us, who did not have to be somewhere at a certain time, but imagine if you were going to work? Or just had to be somewhere at a particular time? I'd call that a serious fail Metro Trains.

Reminds me of what I heard when the new tram track was laid in Swanston Street a week or so ago. It was taking buses an hour to get to the Melbourne Uni from the Arts Centre because of the traffic in Victoria Street, normally a fifteen minute trip. One bus driver asked if he could use the much quieter Queensberry Street and was told no. I would call that a Yarra Trams fail.

Ok, I am a right whiner, but justified I think.

Just an afterthought, curiously, the train replacement bus did not go to every station between Bell and Clifton Hill. What if we wanted one of the stations that it did not go to?


  1. You do get a bit cranky...
    I did a post about pulic transport today also, or rather yesterday as it is Tuesday already where you live.

  2. Anonymous9:55 am

    one wonderful advantage of MYKI is that you could have Swiped OFF in the middle of your journey, sending them the message that only 'service' will be paid for.

    x x AOD

  3. Stephen, I do aspire to be a grumpy old man. I haven't read yet, but I noticed seven new posts from you in my reader.

    Ann, except, paper was stuck over the top of validators and scanners on the bus.

  4. the #metrofail hash tag pops up all too often on my twitter feed.

  5. Fen, most of the fails would be operational problems at the time, bad enough. This was a planned event, and so just not good enough.

  6. Wow you really picked a bad day to go Northside.

    Funny, I got the train to the city on Sunday, Hurstbridge line, full of Collingwood supporters (often I am one, but not this time). I wondered why there were so many people going the "wrong way" at Clifton Hill. Didn't click until until going home when our Eltham train pulled into the inbound platform 1 at Clifton Hill.

    On that note why do the screens at the city stations not mention that buses replace trains for part of the journey. The screens for the Epping train before my Eltham had absolutely no mention of the fact. There may have been an announcement, I don't recall. People could be in for a rude shock at Clifton Hill.

  7. Just on your afterthought. In my experience they run a mixture of express and all stations buses.

  8. Information should be on the screens at all appropriate stations Ben, not that it would have helped us. I have learnt a lesson. Check first. The notion of express buses in stop and start traffic amuses me. I suppose you need to check with the driver if bus is going to visit your station.

  9. Anonymous7:43 pm

    What a shame you had such a bad time travelling to our side of the city, usually its quite a decent travel to Preston, when I say usually its the Epping train that suffers with cancellation instead of Hurstbridge line, there isn't much of a shopping centre where the market is, perhaps next time if you dare travel to the northside again is to go to Northland, the bus along Murray road could have taken you *not sure of the number*

    BTW you're entitled to be grumpy, Im sure I would have been much worse =]

  10. Michelle, I knew I would have someone to offend. I am not much of one for big shopping centres either, but given I have been to all of them in Melbourne I think, except for Northland, I should give it a crack. I think we'll take the car.