The Null Device

Public transport in Melbourne

Melbourne's love affair with the car is on the rocks; as the price of petrol continues to rise, more and more Melburnians are taking to public transport. Unfortunately for them, the underdeveloped public transport system is having problems coping:
"Trains are overloaded, trams overloaded and stuck in traffic," said Graham Currie, chairman of public transport at Monash University. "We have a skeleton bus service with no service at all in some areas and times of day. How can people use public transport when there isn't any available?"
By the time the train pulled into Caulfield station there was barely room to squeeze another person on board. "People are practically sitting on each other some days," said one traveller.
Experts have weighed in on what would be needed to get Melbourne's public transport up to scratch; suggestions range from the relatively mundane (i.e., ensuring that buses run until late and on weekends) to things like extending railway lines to car-dependent outer suburbs, extending trams (and adjusting the system so that they spend most of their time moving, rather than waiting picturesquely in traffic), a moratorium on freeways (which, if the age of cheap, abundant oil is coming to an end, makes sense) and even a London-style congestion charge (which I can't see happening any time soon; given the present lack of alternatives to cars, there'd be a massive electoral backlash).

Meanwhile, the state government's A$10bn super-tunnel project has been scrapped over criticism of the road tunnel/tollway portion of it. Hopefully the rail extension part will be resurrected in some form.

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