Tram Cams – do passengers need to DIY?

A few minutes ago in Flinders Lane:

It was only on a whim I decided to film as I alighted the tram. The car driver was apologetic, but this ignorance of the law around giving way to passengers has gone on far too long. It’s a serious issue — just last week a girl was injured in Camberwell.

Years ago the government was talking about trialling tram cams, to catch motorists failing to give way. Nothing came of it. With video cameras now ubiquitous in mobile phones, perhaps it’s time passengers started filming it for themselves.

(The last time something like this happened.)

And a special reminder: Be careful when you alight from trams.

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.

15 replies on “Tram Cams – do passengers need to DIY?”

Whew! Glad you escaped injury.
But I hope your readers concentrate on the road and potential hazards rather than be distracted by using mobile phones or cameras.

@Roger, are you serious? Maybe it’s the drivers that should be watching, since they’re the ones controlling 1.5 tonnes of moving metal.
Of course other road users should take care, but any vehicle failing to give way to a stopped tram is breaking the law.

The question is, will the Victorian police issue infringement notices from mobile phone footage (as they seem to be doing from cycle cams?). Is there any way the VicPolice or PTUA could ease this process, ie online submission of footage?

The other thing that could help motorists is to paint the road area where a tram stops – sometimes tram stops can be difficult to see, especially those where there are two road lanes before the tram line (eg Route 72 outside Toorak station). Or maybe a tram version of this:

While we should get angry about the laws being broken, I’d rather look after my own safety and give a quick headcheck when getting off the tram.
I’ll say that its not limited to trams, but anything that involves pedestrians. I’m so sick of crossing the roads with the ‘green man’ only to have some impatient moron think they can turn before or just after i have passed in front. The driver saved 6 seconds, i’m sure that made a big difference in their day….not!!!

@John, I don’t think that anyone is advocating that pedestrians abdicate their responsibility to look out for their own safety.
We should be angry, but also concerned, that laws designed to protect vulnerable road users are not being appropriately enforced. Not everyone can or will do a head-check – schoolkids, elderly, vision-impaired etc – these groups will often rely on others doing the right thing.
The reporting in the recent event where a girl was hit by a ute disembarking from a tram was very disturbing – the police referred to it as ‘an unfortunate incident’ and that road users should ‘take care’. In fact, it should have been referred to as an alleged offence (or confirmed offence) and that ‘motorists (or cyclists) should obey the law and stop for trams’ .

Individuals of course need to be wary when around traffic. I said as much in the final line of the post.

But motorists must be more vigilant and more aware of the rules of driving around tram passengers and pedestrians.

@zek, good example – the same one I linked to in the post! :-)

I’ve almost been hit exiting a tram on more than one occasion, the worst of which was on Royal Parade when a truck was barreling past at 60 km/h. Tram driver ‘dinged’ furiously but the driver was long gone.

Trams are big enough for drivers to notice, there is no excuse for disobeying what is a very simple rule. If a tram is stopped, don’t pass it, end of story!

I put part of the solution towards encouraging people to use public transport and alternative mobility thereby increasing awareness. Its like with bicycle riding – if you encourage people to use both modes of transit – even occasionally, it often tends to increase awareness when they get behind the wheel of a car again – but indeed, its perfectly visible when a tram is intending to stop, and the excuse of ‘i didn’t see it’ is completely unacceptable and the fines for failing to give way to a pedestrian is way too lax.
Ultimately it should be a ‘do unto others’ common sense shouldn’t it? Sad that some don’t think it applies to them.

That looks to me like a tram stopping for a traffic light. The car is already passing the tram when it is stopping. If the car wasn’t also stopping for the red light, it would have been past the tram before the tram was stopped.

The trams stops need to be very clearly marked. Paint the whole road yellow.

@John, that’s a good point – one figure I saw recently was that up to 70% of people now use PT at least once a month; eg there are now more occasional users than ever before. One would hope it would increase awareness, but it may well be that the bulk of these confine themselves to trains.

@enno, the video clearly shows the sequence of events. First the tram stops, then the doors open, then the car goes past.

Is the law similar for bicycles passing stopping trams? I’ve nearly been knocked over by a cyclist whooshing past as I got off a tram at the corner of Punt and Commercial Roads.

@Aaron, that’s not the law.

VicRoads website ( summarises the law as “You must stop level with the rear of a tram at a tram stop until the doors close and passengers have cleared the road, you may then proceed but must not exceed 10km/h while passing the tram.”

There is no requirement to stop, or even slow down, if the tram is not at a tram stop. Nor do you have to remain stopped when the road is clear and the doors have closed.

While I believe that most drivers concerned are thoughtless or selfish, one negative change in recent years here is the introduction of superstops and more complex traffic management.

In the old days, trams normally only stopped at tram stops. At intersections with traffic lights there was almost invariably a tram stop on the nearside. So simple rule… tram stopped = tram stop.

Now this rule doesn’t even remote hold true. Trams are frequently stopped where there is no tram stop – waiting for traffic lights, for example. This reduces the effect on drivers of a visual cue of a stopped tram.

Painting the road, as others have suggested, might have a positive effect. But you would have to change the message: Tram stopped at a painted road – You stop.

I’ve gotta say, my local tram stop is scary. Almost every single day, there will be someone that is almost taken out by a car in a similar situation in the video above.

Toorak Station on the 72, Orrong and Malvern Road, both directions.

The reason why this stop seems to be so bad is that there are 3 lanes, rather than the expected 2. People just whiz by a stopped tram since theres a larger gap than normally expected, but don’t realise there are passengers that will be getting on and off.

If VicRoads want to do something about safety… they can add flashers to the tram stop sign (already impossible to see at night because it barely reflects a thing) or paint markers on the road like others have suggested.

When I lived in Mont Albert in the late 1980s/1990s, I frequently disembarked from trams that (at that time) terminated on the corner of Whitehorse Road and Union Roads.

I can’t recall how many times I had near misses getting off at that terminus. I would frequently kick the cars that would pass while people were disembarking (hey, I was young and cocky!), but name (plate number) and shame would be ideal.

I’m not a Big Brother-ish person, but these speeding-past-stopped-trams-whilst-people-are-disembarking incidents really get me angry, and monitoring cameras would be a good idea.

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