I’m sure anybody who drives a particular trip regularly has in their mind their thoughts on optimising it: which route to take, which lane to be in when, best time to set out, alternate routes available if there’s a major snarl — like there was on Wednesday.
What about PT users? Do they think this process through as well, or do they always stick with the same trip?
My primary commute is by train: from either Bentleigh or Glenhuntly into the city, depending on the day. Because I’m me, I’ve thought probably way too much about how to make it — at least in theory — as smooth as possible. (As it happens, when Wednesday’s chaos hit, I needed to head for home on the Sandringham line, not the Frankston, which was disrupted.)
- Avoid the 8:21 from Glenhuntly like the plague. It was crowded 10 years ago, and is packed most days now. There used to be another train within 5 minutes, but it got converted into an express in the late-90s.
- The 8:36 and 8:52 are quieter, as they originate at Cheltenham. With luck, get a seat. Slower ride through.
- The 8:21 is the 8:15 from Bentleigh. Avoid it there too — there’s an 8:17 express that overtakes it.
- If getting on-board at Bentleigh, the trains sometimes leave a minute or so early, which is a problem I’m delayed by a train crossing the other way.
- I can catch the train to Flinders Street, where I have a 5 minute walk, or Parliament where I have a 10 minute walk. The latter is good on a dry cool day for some exercise and fresh air.
- If going to Parliament, I aim for the last carriage, as that’s closest to the exit I want. Especially important outside peak hour to get onto the escalators and walking up before the off-peak people, unaware of the etiquette, fill up the right hand side.
- If going to Flinders Street, I aim for the 4th carriage, as that gets me close to the interchange subway at Richmond, where I can see where/when the next direct Flinders Street train is from. If it’s too long to wait, I’ll sometimes go to Parliament instead.
- On a direct train to Flinders Street, I aim for the 2nd carriage, as it gets me close to the Degraves Street subway… unless the train lands in the dungeon (platforms 12/13) in which case it gets me close to the main exit.
- On the way home, I go to Flinders Street. Direct trains to Richmond generally go from platforms 6 and 12/13, and even though I have to change, it can still save about 7-8 minutes.
- Alternately I can catch a train direct to Parliament, and then change onto the Frankston train — that might save 5 minutes, though it invariably involves an acrobatic sprint up the escalators at Parliament.
- If it’s really hot or a long time between trains or the Frankston train is likely to be crowded, I’m happy to go around the loop.
- Occasionally if one misses a stopping-all-stations Frankston train, you can get a Dandenong train that will overtake it, but it doesn’t usually pay off — expresses between South Yarra and Caulfield only gain 3-4 minutes over stoppers, and you lose some of that getting through the crowds and changing platforms at Caulfield.
- Alternate routes in the event of major disruption: train to Caulfield, then 624 bus to Glenhuntly (or at a pinch, walk); Sandringham train to Elsternwick then 67 tram to Glenhuntly; Sandringham train to Middle Brighton then 703 bus to Bentleigh (zone 2 fare extra)
- Aim for the first carriage when going to Bentleigh; the last carriage for Glenhuntly. Though everybody else does this too, so there’s often more space in the second-last/second.
- At Glenhuntly, my path out of the station crosses the track to the city, and trains there go excruciatingly slowly. So I’ll look at Caulfield to the platform 1 Next Train indicator. If it’s less than 4 minutes away, it will have left Glenhuntly by the time I get there. 5 minutes I’ll probably have to wait for it before being able to cross. 6-8 minutes means I should alight and exit the station as quickly as possible to get across before the gates close.
Maybe I just think about these things too much? Reading back that last point, I think the answer is a definite Yes.
But there is a lesson here: if you’re a regular PT user, it makes sense to know, before something like Wednesday’s mess happens, what your alternative routes are. Parallel train lines and connecting bus/trams, that kind of thing. It can save you a lot of heartache when disaster strikes.
Reminder to self: Yearly ticket ran out on March 29th. I’ve already got the new one (PTUA discount price $1015 per year for zone 1 — order yours today), but I’m using up the compensation Dailies I’ve claimed from Connex in the past year.
Reminder to everybody else: Hold onto your monthly/yearly ticket (used or validated this month) and be ready to claim compensation at the end of this month. Apparently with Wednesday’s mess, they’ve almost hit the compensation threshold already.