On Tuesday night Melbourne City Council approved a plan (by the narrowest of margins) to build four new tram superstops along Collins Street. Fine, very good, wheelchair accessible, more pleasant to wait in and use than safety zones. But they also plan to close three stops: at Queen, King and Russell Streets.
We’ve had a tram stop every block in the CBD for over 100 years. It’s simple to understand, it’s logical, it makes life easy for those who don’t catch trams or go into the city very often. Now unless you know it off by heart, it’ll be guesswork knowing which stop to get off at.
The motivation is to speed up trams. A worthwhile idea, certainly. But you know what… even at those intersections where they’re deleting stops, there’s going to be absolutely no traffic light priority. So there’s a 50% chance (higher at King Street) that the trams will have to stop anyway. The same thing already happens outside St Paul’s Cathedral in Swanston Street.
And all because the MCC traffic engineers objected to tram priority, or even shortening traffic light cycle times because it would slow down cars. Obviously they haven’t got it around their heads that 1.1 (average occupancy) people in a car is not as important as scores of people in a tram, particularly in the city centre, where there’s so little road space and so many people to move around.
Don’t think they’ll stop there. Plans for Flinders Street and Victoria Parade reveal more stops to be deleted. Seems as though they want to chop a third of stops out right across Melbourne.