Works on the new Elizabeth Street tram platform stops are going full steam ahead. This is significant, because with the rollout of the new E-class trams onto route 96, it’s expected some low-floor trams will be available for the first time on Elizabeth Street, at last providing accessible services from the CBD to the Hospital Precinct. (You’d think this would have been prioritised before, wouldn’t you?)
Traders might be complaining about it, but there was no shortage of people around yesterday at lunchtime, and while noise and roadworks may be an inconvenience, it’s not as if the local shops don’t benefit from their location next to one of Melbourne’s busiest tram streets.
As I looked around the western end of the Bourke Street Mall, I noted this car coming along.
Between two trams, it stopped in the tram stop, unable to go back because of trams behind it, unable to go forward because the road was closed up ahead.
To the amusement of bystanders, it was directed by Yarra Trams staff to do a clumsy three-point turn, nearly colliding with several pedestrians and the tram behind it.
Only a minute or two later, another car came into the tram stop. This one being a four-wheel drive, the staff present decided to let it go ahead over the unmade road surface to escape.
Ignoring the signs. All the many signs.
Where do these clowns come from? There was no evidence they’d been involved in delivering to shops in the Mall.
Yet another set of signs add that you shouldn’t drive through the tram stop at the western end.
So it’s not just a case of “I didn’t see the signs”, it’s a case of not seeing (or ignoring) three or four separate sets of signs.
Central section of Bourke Street has been a pedestrian mall since 1983. For that matter, Swanston Street has been restricted to traffic in daylight hours since 1992. I’d have thought at least drivers from the Melbourne area should have got an inkling of the restrictions in these areas by now.
Oh well, it’s nice to know that occasionally people do get told off for driving where they shouldn’t. This pic from a few months ago:
Update 1:30pm: What the heck, more pictures added.
I hadn’t noticed these before — these poles at the western end of the Bourke Street Mall commemorate the 1956 Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games.
While it looks like it’s good from a tram operations point of view, it’s also not hard to see why people such as Paul Mees see the Melbourne University tram terminus/shunting yard as poor urban design, fencing off a large section of Swanston Street. (See: Permeability.)
One can only hope that (a) the idiots didn’t hit anybody as they sped through the Mall, and that (b) those that do this kind of thing get pulled over for it.
(1:21pm on Monday)
As you can see from Google Streetview, there is signage/road markings indicating that when coming westbound on Bourke Street, motorists shouldn’t enter the tram stop — they should do a U-turn and go back.
(Ironically both the Google Streetview car and another vehicle can be seen driving through the tram stop — though the other vehicle is a loaded ute which parks in the Bourke Street Mall, so it may have had permission to be there, where some exceptions apply, though this does not appear to be the case for the Bourke/Swanston tram stop.)
I suspect the answer here is the City of Melbourne needs to close Bourke Street to vehicles all the way up to Russell Street; or at least ban motor vehicles from entering and heading westbound (but allow them to leave eastbound eg if they’ve come via Royal Lane or Russell Place.