Tuesday’s tram stoush

(Outgoing Yarra Trams CEO) Hubert Guyot criticised “so-called advocates of public transport”, saying he had found road lobbyists at the RACV more supportive than the Public Transport Users Association.The Age, 6/9/2005

Hmm. Well PTUA represents passengers, whereas Yarra Trams is an operator, which while it is providing customer service, is also trying to fulfil its contractual obligations, preferably as cheaply as possible. We’re bound not to always see eye-to-eye.

Since I was at home, I rang in to an ABC Radio talkback segment later in the day. Despite the host trying to stir things up, both Hubert and I were conciliatory, and looking for points of agreement:

Guyot thinks … greater priority needs to be given to trams than cars. Bowen says he agrees with Guyot, apart from on some minor points. — 774 ABC Melbourne, 4:40pm 6/9/2005 (Media monitoring)

Followed up with a letter in the next day’s paper:

IT’S certainly true that the Public Transport Users Association has not always seen eye to eye with outgoing Yarra Trams boss Hubert Guyot on every issue. But we agree on a number of topics – none more so than the need for tram priority on our roads.

Melbourne’s trams (each carrying scores if not hundreds of people) continue to be delayed by cars on the road. Trams continue to wait needlessly at traffic lights. Trams continue to wait behind right-turning vehicles. The State Government and Melbourne City Council have shown complete unwillingness to fix these issues. Until we accept that we should be moving people around our city, not motor vehicles, and give public transport the priority it deserves, cars will continue to dominate – with dire consequences for Melbourne’s liveability.Letter from Daniel Bowen, The Age, 7/9/2005

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4 Replies to “Tuesday’s tram stoush”

  1. At the same time – TRAMS NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO TRAFFIC LIGHTS. Especially at the intersection of Williams and Little Lonsdale Streets. It’s foul the way they just charge through on a red light when people have already started crossing with the lights. I’ve seen so many near hits that I won’t actually cross the tracks if there’s a tram nearby. Argh.

  2. Daniel,

    I agree that we need better, more efficient, etc. public transport. But I disagree with the Tram companies bent on cars holding up lots of commuters.

    Cars have to stop for trams at tram stops. During peak, hundreds of cars can be held up behind a single tram – 1 tram : 100 commuters (be nice if it was 200, but …).

    An observation. Trams sit at tram stops at traffic lights until the lights go red and then they proceed, preventing any traffic stopped behind them from getting through the lights, also inconveniencing drivers on the cross road who then have to wait for the tram to clear the intersection. This sort of behaviour doesn’t engender good will toward the tram driver, it begs the attitude ‘if they are going to do that to me, I’ll do it to them’.

    I’ve also seen Tram drivers race to parked cars to prevent following traffic from passing them. Or maybe that’s just my paranoia.

    I know you’re not the person to bitch to about this, but you’re as close as I’ll get to anybody who may have any say about Tram behaviour.

  3. Nigel, if trams were on EVERY STREET in Melbourne, your arguements might stand up. It bothers me that so many motorists are too lazy to avoid them. It’s not often that tram drivers deliberately risk the law and safety, as most of us, like everyone else, wants little drama and to make it to point B in one piece.
    Perhaps you need actually ride on a tram, preferably up front, so you can get a taste of what trams have to put up with.

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