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

Is this tram route map the wrong way round?

While I applaud Yarra Trams’ efforts to put more information on-board trams, this map threw me for a moment.

Tram route map

I’m used to seeing east (Box Hill) on the right, and west (Port Melbourne) on the left. This had it the other way around.

And before you say it: it wasn’t designed to match the actual orientation of the tram and the outside world, because there were copies of this map on both sides of the tram, so one was the right way around, and the other wasn’t.

Perhaps I need to just stop being such a map.square.

PS. I suspect the real reason for it being like this is they wanted the major route to be at the top.

A few pics: Myer, trams, crocs and Star Wars

I don’t have a proper blog post for you, so here’s a few pictures from the last week or so.

If you were looking for Myer’s Lonsdale Street store, it’s gone — almost all of it except the facade.
Myer Lonsdale Street
(When I was a kid, we often went into the City on a Friday night, had dinner at the Coles cafeteria in Bourke Street, then made our way up through the back of Myer to level 6, where the toy department was, before heading to Lonsdale Street to catch the 602 bus home.)

Great to see Yarra Trams continuing its removal of mystery “phantom” route numbers. This “67a” (that’s “a” for altered) was diverted during the Queen’s visit.
Tram 67a

Southland: Beware of crocs.
Warning! Crocs!

Darth Maul in a playful mood at EB Games, Southland.
Star Wars

Yarra Trams – by appointment

Maybe after tomorrow, this could be the new Yarra Trams logo?

Could this be the new YarraTrams logo?

Update Wednesday 6:30pm: There you go, here’s my best pic of the Queen in the tram. Not great I know; she was on the opposite side and facing the other way.

The Queen on the tram

Lots of pics at The Age and Herald Sun.

Most amusing: Channel 9 had footage that showed during the Queen’s ride, the royal tram got a Fleet Operations PA message about diverted services.

Update Thursday morning: A better view of the Royal Tram…
Royal Tram

…and its backup.
Royal Tram backup
(There was a second backup in the Royal colours prepared, but I didn’t see that.)

See also: Why a Z-class tram was used for the Queen’s visit

An end to secret tramways business

Tram 47 in Collins StOne day in 2008, Marita and I went to a party, and I blogged about the trip there on mysterious tram route number 7. I concluded:

In my book, in most cases the secret numbers shouldn’t be used. If a tram is travelling along a substantial part of the route, it might as well use the same route number. Most people won’t care that it doesn’t make it quite all the way. Or it could use a suffix such as D for Depot — though that would probably require the few 3 digit route numbers to be cropped back to two for simplicity.

I should probably point out at this point that my personal views do not necessarily represent PTUA policy, but they did in this case, and the Sunday Age got interested in the story.

Age 14/9/2008: On our tramway’s secret service. Yarra Trams said they wouldn’t be changing anything, and noted the rather astounding (I think) statistic:

they account for 10% of the kilometres that Melbourne’s trams travel each day and 8% of the network’s travel time.

In 2009 I noted that in Collins Street the problem was getting worse, with tram routes 29 and 47 both running to Kew Depot, but via different routes.

Fast-forward to 2011. It was highlighted again in May via the PTUA’s Problem Of The Day:

It’s hard enough navigating public transport without throwing in mystery route numbers. There are dozens of them on the tram network — not on maps, not in the timetables.

A new operator took over in late-2009, and unlike their predecessors, they are interested in this issue, and getting rid of obscure route numbers which barely anybody knows about, and bear no resemblance to their parent routes. (Whether or not it had gained media attention, one would hope it would be an aspect of operations they would have reviewed when taking over.)

Route 86/86d

Yesterday via an Age article, they announced they’ll begin to phase them out. The press release provided more detail:

Mysterious route numbers such as 81, 121, 77 and 92 will be phased out to help passengers to get to their destination on the next available tram.

The so-called phantom routes do not appear on the network map or timetables. They are services that are necessary to get trams to and from depots or to reposition them on the network.

This route renumbering initiative will make catching these services much easier. The new route identification format for these services will feature their parent route and the letter ‘a’ or ‘d’.

The letter ‘d’ means the tram terminates at the ‘depot.’

The letter ‘a’ means the service is ‘altered’ and is not running the full length of the route.

It’s a small thing, but a worthwhile exercise to make that underused 10% of tram service kilometres more useful to people. Bravo, Yarra Trams.