Saturday, 15 February 2014

Another Public Transport Rant

This article by Simon Godfrey in the January edition of the Melbourne Review articulates exactly what annoys me so much about the public transport system in Melbourne. The summary is that Melbourne wants to be a world-class city, and despite the transport issues keeps being voted the most liveable city in the world, however it's rail system is anything but world-class. If you can't be bothered to read the whole article (although its pretty short and much more professionally written than my blog!) here are some of my favourite bits:

"Melbourne's present train network resembles a bicycle wheel, with the City Loop at its centre and the suburban lines feeding into it. The system is fine if your destination is the city and the city alone, or you find yourself in the 1950s and transit to work is your sole transportation concern."

This was exactly my point in this blog post, that you can't easily travel from one suburb to another without having to go into the city and back out again. Godfrey comments that "it's easier to lead an expedition to Mordor than it is to travel from the Northern Suburbs to the Western Suburbs by public transport".

New roads are prioritised before rail expansions, and the author seems baffled as to why this is:

"Metro's inadequate services are universally complained about and anybody who has waited a maddening thirty minutes for a train, probably expecting a steam engine to roll in when it finally arrives, will tell you something needs to be done."

My other recent annoyance with public transport are the fare increases this year. A one-way trip went from $3.50 to $3.58 which is a pretty reasonable 2.3% increase. The weekday cap rate is now $7.16 (from $7), again, a reasonable increase. However the weekend cap rate used to be $3.50, so you could have unlimited travel on weekends for a pretty low price. They have raised that to a whooping $6.00! That is a 71% increase in price - absolutely ridiculous! 

It just seems crazy that in this day and age more isn't being done to promote public transport and cycling - at least as a commuting option. I actually miss Boris Johnson and his love for all things cycling in London. (Hilariously he was caught cycling in Melbourne without a helmet, which is illegal here, while visiting the city in August.) Out of my colleagues at work, I know two others that cycle a few days a week and a handful that take the train, the rest drive despite the school being between 2 train stations and/or living within easy cycling distance of the school. Most think it's crazy that I cycle 11km or, gasp, take the train. I actually met someone the other day that lives about 1km from his work place and drives there everyday! I think this is insane! But this is the norm here. 

Hopefully things will change here. Today we visited the Sustainable Living Festival that is on in Fed Square at the moment, so it's clear that people do want cleaner, greener options. I am happy to report that since going back to school 3 weeks ago I have been cycling more frequently and have had to use the train only a handful of times, so no major train frustrations for me yet this year. But I must admit that if we had 2 cars it would be pretty tempting to drive to school on my non-cycling days, as it would take about half an hour less commuting time each way. So I can see why so many people choose to drive, and until the rail network is dramatically improved this will probably not change. I love so many things about this city, and it is truly a fantastic place to live... better public transport would make it almost perfect!


Dights Falls
Some pics from my cycle to work