If I need to go anywhere west of Swanston Street in town, I catch a bus rather than an overcrowded tram. It doesn't seem to matter what time of the day now, trams are crowded. It wasn't like that when we first moved here in 2002. A bus was a poor option back then.
Really, the bus is still a poor option. Buses are a bit quieter than ten years ago, but still rough riding and rattly. I would get a tram if I knew I could get a seat. If I am on my own, I pick and choose trams, like today when coming home, I waited for a not too busy tram with aircon, as it was 32 degrees, in the eighties in the old money.
But I caught a bus into town. It took forever to travel from Crown to Bourke Street. There is absolutely no favouritism for buses once over Queens Bridge at Flinders Street. A little before there is some favouritism with a bus only lane and then the bus is allowed to travel along the tram lines. The last time I went into town by bus, last week, a building construction company had taken over the very short section of bus only lane. The whole trip by bus through South Bank is very slow, with so many turns.
That is nothing compared to travelling to Prahran by bus, as I did yesterday. I really got the hat trick.
St Kilda Road is, by official standards, a boulevard. From one side to the centre it is footpath, nature strip, parking lane, two lanes of traffic, a grassed median strip, a parking lane, a single traffic lane and a tram lane. It repeats to the other side. The bus travels in the single centre traffic lane, which at intersections widens without parked cars to allow vehicles to turn right. But the lane widths are narrow and if a car in a right turn lane is not really over to the right while waiting for a turn arrow, the bus can't get past.
A picture tells a thousand words. In this case, the bus can get past the right turning red car, but so often they cannot. The bus sits there facing a green light, with traffic behind it, unable to move because of the right turning car. The lights will go red and the red car will get the green arrow, then the lights for the cross street will go green, and then eventually once that cycle has finished, the bus can proceed.
There are three intersections where this can happen in St Kilda Road, and I copped them all. While there is some priority for trams along St Kilda Road, the section from the Arts Centre to Commercial Road is atrocious for public transport, with buses getting blocked, narrow and dangerous tram safety zones for passengers, and no platform stops, not even at the the major Domain Interchange, which I suspect is not being rebuilt as we wait eternally for an announcement on the construction of Metro Underground. I can't wait for Premier Baillieu's pre election announcements, like his last ones, reconstruction of Balaclava Station and construction of Southland Station.What happened?
If you are in the outer 'burbs and don't even have a bus, blocked or otherwise, near you, you have my sympathy, but this is all about me.