Motorists in pedestrian areas – is there something about No Entry they don’t understand? #RoadMorons

Some of those of us who hang around the city are truly amazed at the number of motorists who ignore the “No Entry” and turn ban signs and drive along streets they’re not meant to.

So it’s nice to know that — just occasionally — they do get pulled over by the police.

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (1/3)

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (2/3)

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (3/3)

Unfortunately others seem to get away with it scot free — and it’s unclear to me why police seem to be less keen to catch people driving through pedestrianised areas than they are to book jaywalkers.

This bloke not only ignored the No Entry signs when turning into the street, he went past multiple signs telling him to do a U-turn before this intersection, then when rightly faced with more No Entry signs, initially looked confused, then took the most-pedestrianised street (the one that even bans bicycles), the Bourke Street Mall.

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (1/3)

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (2/3)

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (3/3)

Frankston line: $100m of upgrades coming. What’s included, and what isn’t? #SpringSt #metrotrains

The Frankston line is to get upgrades worth $100 million — signalling changes to allow X’Trapolis trains to run, more shelter at stations, better CCTV, and better passenger information, including about connecting buses and trams.

The Premier, Public Transport Minister, local (Coalition) MPs, heads of PTV and Metro and even the Mayor of Glen Eira were at Bentleigh station this morning for an announcement.

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I heard it was happening, so decided to ambush the press conference and listen in. (Just like old times.)

The press release details what’s included:

“Frankston line passengers will also benefit from improvements to station lighting, the installation of extra CCTV cameras, the extension of station platform canopies to provide more weather protection, additional myki readers and disability access improvements.

“Frankston line stations will also have new passenger information screens installed which display real time updates for trains, trams and buses, providing improved information for commuters as they arrive at stations.

“The Coalition Government’s doubling in train frequencies to every 10 minutes during the day on weekends on the Dandenong, Frankston and Ringwood lines has been successful, and now it is time to roll out further improvements,” Mr Mulder said.

This all sounds pretty good.

In fact, it sounds like precisely the sort of upgrade which should be carried out on lines across the network.

Along with the ten minute trains now seen on the line every day, a good amount of shelter, good lighting and CCTV and real time connection information is not unreasonable to expect on all our rail lines.

X’trapolis trains

I had a quick chat to Andrew Lezala from Metro — it seems the acceleration of the X’trapolis and Siemens trains are similar, so they’d like to predominantly run those on the Frankston line, and tweak the timetable to match.

Presumably this means Comeng trains will go elsewhere — and it would also mean the Williamstown and Werribee lines will also get X’trapolises, since most Frankston trains through-route to there.

What wasn’t announced?

What’s missing?

More services — we’ve already seen ten minute services every day on the line during off-peak (though few people know about them) — better than any other line in Melbourne, so I think it’s fair enough to let that be for now. But peak could do with a boost to cope with crowding and a clean-up of peak shoulder would help too.

Ormond level crossing grade separation "delivered" according to local MP - not the last time I lookedGrade separation — North Road grade separation is coming along (though is not quite “delivered” yet, as a flyer from the local member recently claimed), but no others on this line are proposed at present. The Premier and Minister had caught the train to Bentleigh, and when I had a chat with him, the Premier noted the extremely slow speed over the Glenhuntly train/tram crossing. I think he may have made noises about improving it, but I’m assuming this does not amount to a promise to grade separate!

Southland station — One of the journos asked about Southland. Terry Mulder said that because it involves building on land owned by the shopping centre, they are in negotiations over that. He seemed to also say that it would happen soon, without giving a firm time line, but it did say it would definitely happen.

Station staff — Nup. They’re still pushing the PSOs policy, even though much crime happens before 6pm, and many stations see little or nothing happen.

Connections — The upgrade will include real time information about connections, but of course one of the things lacking is the frequency of those connecting services. Passengers in Glenhuntly are lucky enough to have trams every 10-15 minutes every day, but those relying on buses see mostly hourly weekend services, and some (such as the Bentleigh to Brighton end of the 703) don’t run on Sundays.

The gunzel version

X’Traps to replace Comengs on the Franga line! Get photos!!

When will things start to happen

It’s hard not to see that this package of upgrade works is aimed squarely at the row of marginal seats along the Frankston line. As such I’d be surprised if some of the more visible changes don’t start to happen in the next 12 months, well in time for the election in November 2014.

With trains every ten minutes, better realtime information and station shelters, enhanced CCTV, more reliable services… sounds like just the sort of thing that should be rolled-out across the rail network.

But $100 million is also a lot of money. For instance, yesterday it was announced that a new high school in the Mernda/Doreen area would be built… costing $11.5 million. Some are pointing out that $100 million would pay for duplication on some of the single-line sections of other lines, which would make a huge difference to reliability.

The week in house maintenance

It was house maintenance week this week. I took a couple of days off to do some de-cluttering and get some people in.

Hard rubbish got rid of two old mattresses, three former recycle bins, a big plank of wood, an old fan and two disused old bicycles. Amusingly, between putting stuff out/booking the collection and having it picked up, one bike disappeared, then came back, then the second went.

On Tuesday I got my ducts cleaned. (Note: This is not a euphemism.)

On Wednesday it was the pest controllers, as part of my self-declared War On Cockroaches. The guy sprayed inside and out, and we evacuated for a while to let the fumes dissipate — into the city for some lunch, a walk around, and some photography.

Princes Bridge and the Southbank footbridge, Yarra River, Melbourne

Of course, the most exciting news this week in the ‘hood has been the opening of the new Aldi store in downtown Bentleigh (in the old IGA site). Wednesday was opening day, and it was packed with people hunting down $10 kettles and toasters, and $89 Android tablets.

$89 at Aldi. Should I or shouldn't I?I must admit I was tempted by the latter. But in the end I decided not to buy it, for three reasons: [1] the check-out queues were really long, [2] although it’s cheap, a review reckoned this model of tablet has poor Wifi reception (and in fact the reviewer ended up returning it due to poor battery life), and perhaps most importantly, [3] I’d just spent days de-cluttering the house, and buying something I didn’t really need would be a backward step,

And after all, there’ll be other cheap tablets. Wait a few months and there’ll be a better one for the same price.

I first got a digital camera 10 years ago. Here are some of my first photos.

Ten years ago this week I got my first digital camera: a Canon A70. I’d held on until the price seemed right and they did a half-decent job of video recording (as my old Video-8 video camera had given up the ghost a couple of years before).

I assume I only started with a fairly small memory card, as it looks like I deleted my first ever digital picture — and the second (what we now know as a “selfie“) was at low (640×480, or about a third of a megapixel) resolution.

The second digital photo I ever took: a selfie (11/4/2003)

The second batch of photos that I still have are from a party from then-flatmates Josh and Catherine’s place in St Kilda. Or was it Elwood? At some point I let Josh play with the camera, and he took a bunch of photos of people I don’t know, and don’t recognise.

Some better/more interesting photos from later on in April (when I’d got a memory card and started using the camera’s full mighty THREE megapixels) include these from an expedition around Melbourne with my friend Danielle when she visited from Sydney:

The Espy — back before tall buildings loomed over it
The Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda Beach, April 2003

St Kilda Pier
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MV John Batman — note the Cadbury building in the background, which has recently lost its “eyes”
"John Batman", St Kilda Beach, April 2003

Starfish on St Kilda Pier
StaSt Kilda Beach

“That one sweet promenade” — St Kilda Esplanade
The Esplanade, St Kilda, April 2003

St Paul’s Cathedral, under renovation
St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, April 2003

Wheelchair in the Bourke St bike lane heading down the hill

As with the resignation of Ted Baillieu last night, I’m not quite sure what to think about this.

I didn’t see what happened next, but heard no crash or sirens, so presumably she made it down the hill okay.

How Yarra Trams cleans up the wrong types of leaves

There’s a legendary excuse for late-running trains in Britain called the wrong type of snow (fallen on railway lines). Apparently the wrong leaves are also blamed sometimes.

Yarra trams track cleaner

I recall a Yarra Trams person telling me that while they love Melbourne’s leafy streets, some of our local trees drop the wrong leaves (I’m paraphrasing mind you, these are not her words), which does cause slippery rails, particularly in autumn — which is why, particularly at this time of year, you’ll see this beastie out and about, cleaning them up.

Similar perhaps to a conventional street-sweeper, it’s got special wheels that go into the groove of the track to clear it out.

It moves slower than the trams — on the morning I snapped it, it manoeuvred itself onto the opposite track when a tram came along, then moved back and followed it onward.

Yarra Trams track cleaner