Some photos from July 2004

Another in my series of old photos from ten years ago

In 2004 the situation with crowded trains hadn’t really hit as a big political problem, which is why it took until 2006 for the government to decide not to scrap all the Hitachi trains after all, but expand the fleet. It was certainly occurring at that point however, and I snapped this photo one morning at Richmond. I was particularly pleased with it — it conveys the sense of frustration from passengers really well.
Crowded train, Richmond, July 2004
[Another pic from that same morning]

At Southbank there used to be a regular display from a group called Chalk Circle… one day I found that had this image of The Goodies.
The Goodies, chalk art at Melbourne Southbank, July 2004
[Original blog post]

They’re a common hazard now, but chuggers were around even back then:
Chuggers at Southbank, July 2004

The view looking west along the Yarra. Despite it being almost 20 years since trains ran over the Sandridge bridge, it still looked like a rail bridge. It’s only in recent years that it’s been fully renovated and made available to the public again.
Looking west along the Yarra, July 2004

Jeremy using the computer at home (see another view here). Note the floppy drive. In the foreground is a Harry Potter DVD — I’d ordered it from Amazon UK because in Australia at the time you couldn’t buy the widescreen version.
Jeremy using the computer, July 2004

By way of a bulk sale of their Summertown CD, my mate Tony organised a private concert in his house of Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier. [Original blog post]
Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier, July 2004

Want to avoid Chuggers? Now you can, with City of Melbourne’s handy map

One of the great things about Melbourne’s CBD (the Hoddle Grid) is that it’s so easily navigable. There are lots of parallel streets and laneways, so when walking around it’s pretty easy to take an alternative route, and still not get lost.

You can use this to avoid Chuggers.

Charity Muggers are notorious for getting in the way of pedestrians, desperately trying to get people to sign up for direct debits to charities, to the point of irritation.

As reported in the Herald Sun today, the City of Melbourne has decided to restrict Chuggers to 26 specified locations in Melbourne’s CBD. And they’ve published these locations on a map.

City of Melbourne: Chugger map

(See more detail in the full map, in PDF form)

Some of the spots seem a little unlikely — for instance Lonsdale and King Streets, in the middle of the CBD’s strip club district, where even at lunchtime there aren’t many pedestrians around.

Some don’t seem quite logical for other reasons. At Collins and King, I often see the Chuggers on the SW corner, as it has plenty of space. But the map dictates they use the SE and NW corners — the latter is quite constrained.

There are further restrictions in the policy:

Each Registered Charity Organisation may apply to collect funds within the central city at six of the 26 specified locations per day, for a maximum of 40 days per year.

It’s not immediately clear to me if this will restrict other (non-Chugger) types of fundraising. Policies can be a bit of a blunt instrument. As seen when Metro decided to restrict them, then changed their minds, policymakers sometimes can’t seem to distinguish between Chuggers, whom many people find annoying, and more socially acceptable fundraising such as the Salvos, the RSL or Legacy asking for once-off donations of change. (Metro has since seen the light.)

Anyway, back to the map…

While it’d be impractical to memorise all the locations, if there are some on, say, your usual walk to lunch, and you’d rather not face an over-enthusiastic Chugger leaping around, trying to shake your hand, calling out to you in the street, or just generally getting in your face, then you can use this map to avoid them.

Chuggers are also increasingly found in the suburbs. Not sure they’re mapped anywhere — you’ll just have to use the other avoidance strategies: keep walking, don’t slow down. Smile or acknowledge but don’t engage otherwise — and certainly don’t shake hands with them if they offer.

Hardly any money on your #Myki? You can still travel – but beware of the caveats

Just a little tip — because it seems a lot of people don’t know this:

For metropolitan services, you can touch-on a Myki and travel with any balance which is non-negative, that is, zero or above.

It doesn’t matter if the card balance is less than the fare.

This means if you find yourself needing to catch a tram, with only tiny amount on your card, and nowhere to top-up (thanks to the retrograde step of removing ticket machines from trams) or a long queue, then you can still take one trip and top-up later.


(I touched-off to show how it works. You don’t normally need to touch-off trams.)

Your next touch will send the balance into negative.

You can’t touch-on again (even if you didn’t touch-off) until the balance is brought back above zero.

With a negative balance, you can’t use the remainder of the fare that started when you touched-on, because you haven’t paid for it yet.

And the rules are a bit different for V/Line, where you do need to have funds to cover your trip.

Those gotchas aside, this is useful when you find yourself without the fare you need, and nowhere convenient to top-up — as long as the card balance is zero or above.

By the way, Auto Top-up is pretty neat. A lot about Myki is stuffed, but after some false starts (particularly the one about killing the card if the payment is rejected – WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!) Auto Top-up is one of the things about it that actually works okay.

Update 7pm: The legalities

Following some feedback on this post, I checked back with the Fares and Ticketing Manual to confirm my recollection was correct — which it is:

Minimum requirements for travel

Travel in one or two zones

In order to touch on and commence travel, customers travelling in only one or two zones must have on their myki a myki money balance of at least $0.00.


If a customer’s myki has a valid myki pass or other valid product and a negative myki money balance, the myki is not valid for travel or entry to designated areas in zones for which the myki pass or other product is valid until the myki money balance has been topped up to at least $0.00.

Fares and Ticketing Manual, Page 55

The Manual is gazetted, so it is a legal document.

What’s interesting however is that the Transport (Ticketing) Regulations appear to contradict this:

A person who is travelling in a passenger vehicle must have in his or her possession a ticket that is valid for the whole of the person’s travel in that passenger vehicle.

Transport (Ticketing) Regulations 2006, Reg 6

and specifically that you’re meant to make sure your ticket is valid for travel, which includes:

to have recorded on the myki sufficient value to pay for the whole of the travel

Reg 12

Regulation 12 also lists defences to this include the usual taking all reasonable steps. So walking past a working ticket machine may not be defensible, but boarding at a tram stop with no top-up facility (and none nearby) presumably would be.

Still, consider yourself warned.

The Ukrainian crisis – so many familiar names in East St Kilda

Hearing the news of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has an added dimension for someone who grew up in East St Kilda. Lots of street names in the area come from the Crimean War — from the British forces, names of battles (which in turn are mostly named after locations), and even Florence Nightingale is in there.

Map of the Balaclava area (from Melway/street-directory.com.au)

There’s some guesswork here, not an authorative list:

Alma Road — The Battle of Alma, 1854.

Balaclava (and Balaclava Road) — the Battle of Balaclava, 1854, near the city of Balaklava.

Blenheim Street — perhaps after the Vengeur-Class battle gun ship HMS Blenheim which served in the Crimean War.

Cardigan Street — Earl of Cardigan, who led the charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava.

Crimea Street — the Crimean War, 1853-1856.

Inkerman Street — the town of Inkerman in the Crimea.

Malakoff Street — The Battle of Malakoff, 1855.

Nightingale Street — Florence Nightingale, prominent nurse in the Crimean War.

Odessa Street — Odessa, Ukraine.

Pakington Street — Sir John Pakington, secretary of state for war in the British government, and involved in several government reports into the war.

Raglan Street — Lord Raglan, commander of British forces in the war.

Redan Street — The Battle of Great Redan, 1855.

Sebastopol Street — The Siege of Sevastopol, 1854-55.

Westbury Grove and Westbury Street — Frank Atha Westbury, who served in the Crimea before emigrating to Melbourne in 1866.

Any others people have spotted?

  • 2/7/2009: Street clusters — newspapers in Cheltenham, cities in Murrumbeena, poets in Elwood, trees in Caulfield South

A look inside the new E-class trams

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.
E-class tram interior

E-class tram

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.
E-class tram entrance

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.
Trams lined up in Swanston Street

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.

E-class tram - gap to platform