Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just too many people

While I am passionately pro public transport and when I retire from work, I hope to never have to drive a car again. I also want a clear road when I  go to work. I have been driving to work along Dandenong Road between Chapel Street and Wattletree Road since about 1993, firstly from Balaclava and now The Highrise. In 1993 I may have very occasionally and silently fumed about traffic lights. In 2013, I fume about the amount of traffic, the traffic lights and idiot drivers. More so the idiot drivers. Naturally, as you would expect, I am a perfect driver.

Over three or more decades I have observed the decline in driving standards. Yet, I will say our roads and drivers are safer than ever. How does that work?

I used to see dangerous driving; speeding, erratic swerving, seriously bad and dangerous driving. Now, all I see is incompetent driving. I am blocked by excessively slow drivers. I am blocked by drivers playing on the phones while sitting at traffic lights. People cross over three lanes because they have just seen where they want to turn, never mind that they should have known they were going to have to turn. Lane discipline has fallen apart, with people wandering over lane lines to their left or right, never mind the people who like two lanes to turn left and seem unable to steer their car into a single turning lane.

I have heard that in Italy, cars move like they are linked together by a steel rod. That is, one car moves, the following one moves. A whole block of cars all move forward simultaneously.

Here in Melbourne, cars seem to be linked by rubber bands. The first car moves forward, the slack in the rubber band is taken up and then the band stretches, and then the next car moves forward, which pulls on the rubber band linked to the car behind which also eventually moves forward, assuming the person was not restraining the rubber band by playing on their phone with their foot on the brake. And then for no apparent reason, someone will brake and destroy any kind of operational but less than perfect symmetry that is underway.

A bit along the way, someone will spy an old bloke in a wheelchair who has turned towards the kerb to check if his taxi is coming. The driver will think he wants to cross the road and slam on their brakes and bring umpteen cars to a stop that were travelling 60 km/h. The bloke in the wheelchair will not notice, as his peers up the road for his taxi. 

In some ways, I believe in a bigger population in the inner suburbs. I actually think that has been achieved and there is no need to add even more people to my area of the inner suburbs.What is odd is that inner burbs are easy living and you don't need a car. There is wonderful public transport at your door.

Yet Melbourne is being swamped by cars and car traffic congestion is terrible. Our roads can't cope with the increase in traffic. Our public transport can't cope with the increase in the number of passengers. Yet still our governments bring more and more people in.

I am starting to get a bit angry. Our governments either need to stop people coming to Melbourne to live, or borrow huge amounts of money to invest in infrastructure to cope with the numbers. My living standards are declining, through appalling overcrowding of public transport and even worse crowding on our roads. It is so simple. There are too many people in Melbourne for the services we have.

We are about to hit a population figure of 23 million. A new person is being added to Australia every 1 minute 23 seconds if you do the adding and substracting, and most of them are immigrants. Our services can't cope with the present number of people. Why on earth are we adding even more people?

24 comments:

  1. "invest in infrastructure"
    geez, how long have I been saying that??

    "Inner burbs are easy living and you don't need a car. There is wonderful public transport at your door."
    Don't you live in an inner suburb? Then why aren't you using the "wonderful public transport"?

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    1. River, I do use public transport often but I need a car for work and disaster happens if I am not at work on time.

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  2. Your rubber band analogy is very good and replicates an explanation I heard from a Professor in traffic management. He used a similar theory to explain why traffic jams take so long to clear causing latecomers to the scene to wonder what was the blockage.

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    1. That sounds interesting Victor. I have rather too much interest in traffic management.

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  3. From my experience since 2008, I think the public transport in Melbourne is far better than that in Sydney. Even going there alone at the first time but I could go anywhere I wanted easily.

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    1. Tai, it is not bad, but of course we will still complain about it.

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  4. More babies and more migrants, please ...but no private cars in the Central Business District whatsoever. As long as there are plenty of trains and trams (not buses), people will only use their cars when they are travelling from one outer suburb to another outer suburb OR when they are going into the countryside.

    Oh yes. Very cheap tram and train rides for pensioners!

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    1. Can't agree with the population growth Hels, but I don't see the need for cars to be in the city, with the exception perhaps of King Street. Some self interest for the future with cheap rides for pensioners? It is already free on weekends and not really expensive during the week.

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  5. Singapore is taking a leaf from Australia and trialling free travel before 7.45am if you exit certain train stations.
    Made the fatal mistake taking the train after 7.30am. Never again.

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    1. That's interesting Michael. Fatal mistake because it was so busy?

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  6. It ain't the people, it's the public transport system. It needs to cover every part of the city, be cheap (or free) and regular. And, do what London does - no cars in the city centre.

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    1. Kath, what were planners thinking when increasing the population so much and not planning for them to move around. London keeps them out by congestion charging. I would have to think more on that. Only rich people can drive into the city?

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  7. Some argue that if we build roads it just encourages traffic, and so we should focus on public transport. Others argue that PT infrastructure is too far gone to fix.
    I would argue that elderly or infirm people in outer suburbs cannot be expected to cycle to the nearest railway station. As you say, commuting from one outer suburb to another one needs a car. One also needs a car at "the other end" if one travels to the country.

    We need a balance between new roads [more of the avoid the CBD type would be better] as well as better PT. I would also suggest we should stop trying to catch up from behind and start thinking bigger about the future. Set some sane priorities - nobody can have everything they want all at once for gosh sakes.

    Somewhere I'm sure I've seen a sign saying Park and Ride? Larger car parking hubs near PT would help. I would much rather park and ride than get stuck in Hoddle street traffic if I go into town for dinner and a show.

    At least once a week I nearly come to grief on Eastlink because some people do not check the blind spot in their car before shifting from lane one to three, or checking whether someone else is planning to change lanes at the same time. My pet hate is people who would rather swerve and kill six people than brake in their own lane and maybe just get a broken leg or two.

    Now we read that a certain trucking magnate is still pushing for a new port at hastings, and wanting to put vehicles up to 30 metres long on all roads. Oh, and a third train line to dandenong, solely for freight of course. Now that sounds like a real priority - for him at least.

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    1. FC, yes, people will always need cars, especially once away from the inner city. I don't think that it is money wisely spent to have buses with only a couple of people on them running around ever suburb, yet buses feeding to stations are good.

      There is the Doncaster Park and Ride but I don't know of others. It is very successful, except they don't have a train and have to use buses.

      I have no doubt about who is behind longer trucks and the push for Hastings.

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    2. SA has several Park'n'Ride areas, I think they are a great idea and there should be more of them for those who commute to the city for their work. shoppers too.

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    3. River, I suppose the guided bus has a park and ride.

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  8. Brisbane has the same problem. I agree with others, its not the people it is the lack of foresight and planning with public transport systems.
    I don't know if you get a notification of comments on older posts but I just left a comment on your Helensburgh post.

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    1. Just answered the comment Diane, thanks. No foresight at all in any part of Australia.

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  9. Ditto here in Perth. We used to be a small quiet city. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Perth is the fastest growing city in Australia, and because most of our freeways are having work done to increase lanes, the traffic getting to work and back is chronic! In the city with the Elizabeth Quay project causing many probs when you actually make it into the city, it's a mess. Also Andrew like you I feel I may be one of a rare breed of 'perfect' drivers, not many of us left, maybe even just the two of us haha!

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    1. Grace, I have a mental image of Perth city from a photographic book from the early eighties. I am very sure it is quite a different place now. Elizabeth Quay is your favourite development, I seem to recall.

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  10. I'm quite surprised to hear that there still are lots of people and cars in Melbourne, Andrew. I thought they had all come up here.

    Cheers,


    Bill

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    1. Bill, I was last in Brisbane in about '76. Are you saying things have changed since then?

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  11. One thing I noticed about driving around the Shire in Sydney, the drivers are much more laid back than in Melbourne. No aggression, no impatient tooting, I was amazed actually. Then I came back here and got the rage!!!

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    1. I too have noticed that in Sydney Fen. They are less aggro, more patient and tolerant.

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