Melbourne transport

Why it is the way it is

135 metres to Parliament Station

In the City Loop, there are signs at odd intervals, saying things like “Parliament station 135 metres”. They’re placed under every third light.

The lights are at 15 metre intervals, the signs at 45 metre intervals. This is because the loop was designed before the switch to metric in the 70s. Under the original design, the lights would have been every 50 feet, and the signs every 150 feet/50 yards.

“Prahran” is in Balaclava

Tram 78 southbound says it’s going to Prahran, but it actually goes way past Prahran and terminates in Balaclava, across the road from Elwood. It’s a hangover from how it was in the days of cable trams 100 years ago.

The 223 bus

Footscray and Seddon, 1951

In 1916 the Footscray Tramways Trust was formed. Over about four decades they built and ran a small network of tram services radiating out of Footscray.

One of those routes ran down Irving, Nicholson, Buckley, Victoria, Charles and Gamon Streets, through Seddon, then down Somerville Road to the corner of Williamstown Road.

To this day, the number 223 bus runs down exactly the same streets, 7 days a week, 18 hours a day. Other streets both nearby and in other suburbs, with the same or higher density of housing and shops, get inferior bus services, or none at all (particularly on Sundays), just because they didn’t have a tram service early last century.

All over Melbourne, it’s the same. If a suburb got its public transport back in the 1930s when PT was still being expanded, it probably still has it now. If a suburb was developed afterwards, no matter how much it might need usable PT now, it probably doesn’t have it. Which is why the last major train line was opened in 1930, and why two-thirds of Melbourne has no usable PT.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

One reply on “Why it is the way it is”

This is my major gripe with every Victorian government I have seen in the last 20 years. Nobody wants to improve public transport. The current government wants to appear to be doing something, but all they have done is fiddle with bus services and extend tram lines where they were unwanted or a duplication of existing services.

I’m hoping that the current petrol price increases and the increaed interest rates will begin to drive more people onto public transport out of necessity. Hopefully it will go far enough to take the train and bus system to breaking point. At that point, either there will be total breakdown for several years or the government will do something about it and stop listening to whoever it is who has both sides of politics convinced that more public transport (especially more heavy rail) is ‘not economically feasible’.

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