The PTV logo is gradually replacing the Metlink and Viclink logos across the public transport network.
It’s just the latest rebranding — remember, some trains and stations have had up to seven different logos in the last 20 years… from the old The Met three-pronged logo, to the newer Met logos, to Hillside/Bayside trains, to Connex/M>Train, then unified all to be Connex, then Metlink/Connex, then Metlink/Metro.
Obviously it all costs money, so hopefully there won’t be any more rebranding in the near future. Could we at least try and go a couple of decades with the current logo?
Unlike the Metlink logos, the PTV ones are much more prominent on vehicles, and for the first time will (eventually) result in common branding for buses. This is not a bad thing — it helps inform and remind people that we actually have one network, rather than a bunch of independent, disparate routes… helped of course if network service planning is done properly.
I was watching a documentary on London Underground the other week, and it remarked that they realised common branding was an important thing back in 1933! We almost got there in the days of The Met in the 80s, but back then, it was only trams, trains and government-owned buses that were in green and yellow. Private buses kept their own colours. This time, they’re included. Here’s a bus run by Transdev (formerly Melbourne Bus Link) spotted last week — at first glance, there is no indication at all of the operating company.
Some people have noted that a lot of passengers use the current differing bus operator colours to easily tell when their bus is coming — unlike trams and trains, buses have for a long time been run by different companies, with different colours.
I suppose passengers will have to start more carefully checking the route number. What would make this easier is if buses consistently had route numbers not just on the front, but also on the side and rear of the vehicle. Some buses have this already, but others don’t. And some front displays are not particularly readable. Improvements can be made.
Melbourne’s first new trams in years — and the first Australian-built trams in about twenty years — were officially launched yesterday, after months of testing around the network.
The first two “E-class” trams, numbered 6001 and 6002 started service. I managed to catch one for a ride at lunchtime.
As you can see from the video, the destination displays look very flickery on camera. They aren’t like that to the human eye — they’re very clear. It’s a problem with LED displays which plagues anybody trying to snap a photo or video of newer public transport vehicles and automated signage.
The tram is pretty nice inside. Low-floor trams often suffer from a lack of seating — the Combino D class trams in particular. This wasn’t too bad, with plenty of open space near the doorways, but what seemed like a reasonable number of seats along other sections of the tram. That said, it was off-peak, and everybody who wanted a seat got one. It’ll be a different story in peak hour.
One thing to watch for, especially if you use a wheelchair or a pram, is there is a noticeable slope in the doorway, unlike previous models of tram which are flat at that point. Not a big issue; it’s quite visible. I assume this is so the main part of the floor can be a bit higher.
Apparently there is external CCTV to catch motorists who try and illegally overtake trams. It’s unclear how these incidents will be reported, but this is a step forward given it’s such a common and dangerous occurrence.
In all, the design looks excellent. One little niggle: the route number has been placed on the left. This doesn’t make sense in a city where at most stops, people wait for their approaching tram on the opposite side — when more than one tram arrives together, it makes it difficult to see which one is yours. On the older locally-made trams, the route number is on the right, making life easier.
If you want to take a ride on the new trams, they’re running on route 96 for now. If you have the Tram Tracker app, you can find them by using the tram-spotter’s feature that lets you search for a tram number: 6001 or 6002.
In all, 50 have been ordered, coming into service over the next 5 years. The older low-floor trams will cascade onto other busy routes such as the 86 and the 19 and 59… if they reach the 59, hopefully that’ll mean at last the hospital precinct has an accessible tram service — it’s been a long time coming.
Update Thursday: Some observers have noted that the acceleration of the tram from a standing start is a bit too fast, leaving some passengers wobbling around a bit; also that the gap between the tram and the platforms is larger than necessary. Here’s a snap of the latter — it does appear to be less flat and a bigger gap than, say, on Perth’s trains.
Speaking of sculpture, there’s a rather splendid new one at the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets — a full-size replica of a W-class tram.
Officially titled “Raising the Rattler Pole – The Last of the Connies”, it was installed last week, and when I went by a day or two later, appeared to be getting a lot of interest from passers-by.
There’s a fair bit of (not necessarily accurate!) detail on the underside…
City of Melbourne has posted a video of them doing the installation:
Finally, here’s another W-class tram (not the real 1040; this is number 961) photobombing the sculpture:
The artist is David Bell — on his web site are some photos of the sculpture being built.
Apparently it lights up at night… must go past sometime after dark to take a look.
Before you complain to the bus company that your bus is late/cancelled/crowded, you might want to check that they still run the service.
In August, a whole bunch of routes (including most Smartbus routes) formerly run by Ventura and Melbourne Bus Link were taken over by Transdev.
Seems it’s all go in the bus industry these days.
Transdev, in a reply to a query on Twitter, have noted that the stickers (as seen above) are a temporary measure. Eventually they’ll get the PTV livery.
— Transdev Melbourne (@Transdev_Melb) October 21, 2013
While I quite like unified designs for the bus fleet, there is a down side: some passengers tell approaching buses apart by not just the numbers, but their operator colours. It’ll be interesting to see how people handle that.
Travellers Aid do good work helping those who need a little extra assistance getting around.
They have a fundraiser on at the moment: Myki card holders, for $2.50 postage and handling, and they invite you to add a donation (which I did).
My sister loves the Keep Calm meme, so I got this one for her birthday:
I didn’t even notice before seeing the photograph — check the crown!
The beauty of it is you can keep your Myki card in the holder, and touch on and off from there.
Alas you can only order one of each type… I’m tempted to place some more orders for this specific one.
Having spent all that money on GPS in the buses, transmitters and receivers to get the bus locations onto electronic signs, wouldn’t you think they’d think carefully about where those signs were located?
To be fair, most of those I’ve spotted are quite well located, so they are visible from the bus stops they serve.
But are there others like these ones?
Passengers do like having realtime information, and along with the increased frequencies and (limited, some would argue) traffic priority measures, it’s led to strong patronage growth on Smartbuses… but they can do better.
By the way, this is not a problem confined to buses
When you’re headed down the Elizabeth Street subway at Flinders Street Station, do you ever look up above the platform entrances? If you did, you’d spot automated signs that virtually nobody ever sees. Fortunately they never seem to say anything actually informative — only ever “Welcome to Flinders Street Station.”
Meanwhile on the new X’Trapolis trains, the signs inside the carriage are neatly obscured by the cross-bars in the doorways, which are designed to be at a good height to hold onto, without people banging their heads on them.
Some years ago I wrote about issues with the City of Melbourne policy of allowing motorbikes and scooters to park on footpaths, except in a few locations where it’s specifically banned.
The problem is, most of the guidelines seem to be ignored.
DO dismount and walk your motorcycle while you are on the footpath
DO ensure your motorcycle is at least one motorcycle length out from the building line to allow free passage of pedestrians (this is important as people with a visual and/or physical impairment may use the building line for navigation)
DO park at least one motorcycle wheel diameter back from the road kerb, to allow pedestrians free access to and from the road and to parked vehicles (You can leave less space between your motorcycle and the kerb if you park next to a “no stopping” zone).
DO NOT PARK opposite any parking bay reserved for people with disabilities (marked with a wheelchair sign and symbol)
DO NOT PARK where space is reserved for footpath activities such as street cafés
– it’s a bit hard to tell, as most such areas seem not to be well-defined.
DO NOT PARK on narrow footpaths
– this is far too vague, but based on the second and third points, one could conclude that it means don’t park on footpaths so narrow you can’t leave a motorcycle wheel diameter from the kerb, and a motorcycle length from the building line. This should automatically make any footpath narrower than a motorcycle length (plus a wheel length) out of bounds.
DO NOT PARK on or near service access points, such as manhole covers, post boxes or rubbish bins
DO NOT PARK near taxi ranks or bus and tram stops
DO NOT PARK on private property without permission from the property owner
– some areas can be identified as private property, but it’s not possible to tell if permission has been given.
DO NOT PARK where your vehicle could damage the footpath, pedestrian facilities or landscaping
– I didn’t find any evidence of this.
DO NOT PARK within 1 metre of fire hydrants
There are just three locations where motorcycle parking is specifically banned:
- Collins Street, south side footpath, between Exhibition Street and George Parade — I’m not even sure why this spot was excluded; the footpaths are wide, and it’s not particularly busy
- Flinders Lane, south side footpath, between Port Phillip Arcade and Elizabeth Street
- Exhibition Street, west side footpath, adjacent to Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Everywhere else, it’s permitted:
In Victoria you can legally park your motorcycle/scooter on the footpath (unless otherwise signed), as long as you do not obstruct pedestrians, doorways, delivery vehicles, public transport users or access to parked cars.
Of course, common sense would suggest a few others points, such as…
Don’t block ramps to pedestrian crossings, particularly tactile guidance paths for the blind
…or block the footpath opposite a tram stop exit
…or park in pedestrian malls
…or in the middle of a civic amenity such as public rotunda
Why does this stuff even matter?
Firstly, I have a philosophical disagreement with the idea of motor vehicles being parked (and driven) on footpaths.
Many CBD footpaths are already congested. As the CBD continues to get busier, it’s going to get worse. In the past ten years, total daily city numbers have grown from 679,000 to about 830,000 — about 22%.
While the number of CBD visitors using motorbikes remains proportionately low (less than 1% — a comment on the previous post said about 1200 per day), obviously as the CBD gets busier, the numbers are likely to increase.
Efficient movement of people around the city means encouraging the most efficient mode: that means pedestrians. But their space is being encroached upon by a relatively small number of other users.
Note that cyclists in general don’t cause these problems because they need to be left chained to something, such as a pole, restricting where they end up parked. Pushbikes are also physically smaller.
There are several problems here, I think:
Firstly, the rules as they stand don’t seem to be enforced, and are widely ignored, or perhaps not even common knowledge among motorbike and scooter riders.
Are they even enforceable rules? Or are they just guidelines? I’m guessing the latter.
Either way, whatever the rules are, riders need to be made aware of them, educated, and then the rules enforced — even if it’s just issuing notices advising of what not to do.
Secondly, the free-for-all just doesn’t make sense in a busy city centre. With pedestrian numbers continuing to increase, and motorbike riders accounting for less than 1% of the total daily CBD population, this is simply not efficient use of footpath space to have them sitting there all day. It probably explains why other capital city CBDs don’t allow it.
In comparison, many local councils have cracked down on footpath trading in recent years because of concerns about pedestrian flows and the vision impaired, and have provided clear rules about where traders can place displays, signs, tables, and so on. There doesn’t seem to have been any such clarity around motorbikes, and formalising the current guidelines and enforcing them would help a lot.
Where motorbike parking makes sense
I’d much prefer the policy was changed to allow motorbikes on the footpaths only in defined areas — opt-in rather than opt-out.
There are “motorcycle precincts” such as parts of Elizabeth Street where their presence is to be expected, and there are spots where it works fine, for instance opposite some tram superstops where there are wide footpaths with plenty of spare capacity, and barriers mean nobody needs to park cars or cross the road at that point.
The other thing that should happen is the replacement of more on-street car parking with motorbike parking. It makes sense because motorbike/scooter parking on the street is more efficient use of space than car parking. Plus there’s lots of off-street car-parking, and in any case car traffic needs to be discouraged.
(I’m less sure that motorcycles/scooters are more efficient in traffic… it might be that they take up about as much space as cars when moving. Motorbikes are also, in the main, much noisier.)
If there isn’t a switch to an opt-in one, then there should at least be a blanket ban on parking on narrow footpaths (going by the points in the existing guidelines) and bans placed on areas of high pedestrian traffic, such as around the railway stations.
Ultimately though, the City of Melbourne should be prioritising pedestrians on footpaths. They account for the majority of footpath users, with numbers increasing every year, and are the most efficient use of available the space.
When I’ve raised the prospect of a change on Twitter, people cite a motorbike protest some years ago which was probably how the current policy came about. Motorcyclists parked (quite legally) one motorbike per car spot in protest, and the council surrendered. They imply this could happen again.
You know what? The threat of protest doesn’t make it a good policy.
And I think you could predict my attitude to this specific protest — a protest inconveniencing CBD motorists (another minority mode)? Let them. I don’t care one bit.
One more thing
It’s very much in the eye of the beholder, but what about the heritage and character of our streets?
Beyond problems of efficiency, of footpath capacity… do we actually want every street in Melbourne to be overrun with parked motorcycles and scooters?
- Looks like in the inner-north, cargo bikes are starting to cause similar problems blocking footpaths
Last night I spotted a violation of parking where specifically signed that you shouldn’t. Picture inserted above.
And City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has advised me that, as I suspected, they are unenforceable guidelines, not rules.
@danielbowen: Guidelines not really enforceable and not CoM's. Our Parking Officers do issue fines for obstruction.
— Robert Doyle (@LordMayorMelb) October 18, 2013
…documents obtained by the Greens through freedom of information reveal that the positive results did not include many trains that were affected by the knock-on effect of a cancelled or delayed service. Of the 437 trains surveyed, 113 were excluded.
– The Age, Train overcrowding getting worse: Greens
Here’s the thing. Load surveys aren’t measuring overcrowding for the sake of measuring overcrowding.
You don’t hire scores of people to stand on platforms with clipboards to learn that cancellations are bad because they result in crowded trains, and we should avoid cancelling services. That is obvious.
Load surveys are for designing new timetables, to identify where and when extra trains should run. So while some may disagree, I think it’s perfectly sensible for them to exclude cancellations. To not do so would make it impossible to know where services should be added.
By all means they could publish the raw figures, or a version that does include cancellations, but for the primary purpose — service planning — they have to be excluded.