Melbourne News and events

112 warm days in a row

The other week it was noted that we’d gone 100 days of Melbourne’s maximum temperature being over 20 degrees. That was the first time in 150 years of recorded weather observations that it had happened.

By my count, we’re now at day 112. The last day of less than 20 degrees was 17.8 on the 8th of December.

Max temperatures since 1st December

[Source: Bureau of Meteorology]

And it shows no sign of ending yet; the forecast predicts tops mostly in the mid-20s for the next week.

Update 12/4/2010: The warm spell finished on the 10th of April, with the temperature only getting to 17.7 on the 11th, a final record of 123 consecutive days above 20 degrees.


Myki transaction update

18/02/2010 Myki machine still out of orderSometime in the last 24 hours, my Myki online topups finally got resolved, some 24 days after they got stuck.

Last week I used the web site feedback form to point out that the topup from 2/3/2010 had got stuck, and the one from 4/3/2010 was stuck behind it.

They unjammed it somehow, and by Saturday morning, the first had successfully completed and the second had been transmitted to my card. Confirmation that it got to the card was received back at the central servers sometime last night, some 24 days after the transaction was initiated.

Glad that it’s resolved, but not impressed.

I haven’t changed my thinking on this: avoid online topups.

Video games

It’s Mario month!

Isaac noticed the Best Before date on our current jar of Vegemite is MAR10. That makes it Mario Month this month!

Vegemite: MAR10

I think I’ll go play some more New Super Mario Brothers Wii.

Then maybe I’ll make a Vegemite sandwich. (Though it doesn’t strictly have to be used by the end of the month; note the difference between “best before” and “use by”.)

driving Morons on the road transport

This is the law

I’ve written about this before, but just so it’s absolutely clear, I’m going to include a picture[1] with the text:

When turning left or right at any intersection (except a roundabout) you must give way to any pedestrians crossing the road you are turning into.

Give way to pedestrians when turning

— source: VicRoads: Driving in Victoria — Rules and Responsibilities, pages 35 and 39.

I’m pretty narked off that a 4WD owner[2] I encountered yesterday not only didn’t know this, but when challenged said it was not true.

I was in a hurry, and in no mood to give way to vehicles I was not obliged to, if I could possibly help it. I signalled him to stop, which he did. I then crossed in front of him, and since his window was down, told him he had to give way. When he claimed otherwise, I didn’t swear, but I did get a bit shouty, and told him to check his road rules. He drove off.

I hope he does check the laws and gets educated. It annoys me that some people are out there, driving around, ignorant of basic rules.

[1]The picture actually comes from a later section which talks about T-intersections, but appears to have been drawn to illustrate the point for other intersections as well.

[2]With a bullbar fitted. Because you really need them driving along Centre Road.

Update Sunday morning: Similar situation with a VW Golf driver yesterday afternoon.

Note that different rules apply to vehicles coming out of streets you’re crossing (peds should give way) and on roundabouts (peds should give way). On entrances/exits to private property, such as car parks and shopping centres, drivers should always give way.

Most importantly, always use your common sense — no matter what the law, if the other person is not going to stop, don’t put yourself or them in danger.


Why the crowding?

You want to know why Melbourne’s trains are so crowded?

Well, that might be because in the last decade, patronage has gone up 77%, but services have only increased by 17%.

Melbourne train patronage versus services - growth 2000-2009

And the trams too?

Patronage up 36%, services increased 5%.

Melbourne tram patronage versus services - growth 2000-2009

Just for completeness, here’s a graph of all the patronage figures from 1999-2009.

Victorian public transport patronage 2000-2009

Source: Victorian budget papers, 1999-2009. (The 2006-07 papers say the methodology for calculating metropolitan bus patronage was improved in that year, implying the figures for previous years were inaccurately high, rather than there being a sharp decline in passengers.)

Friends and loved ones

100th birthday

Adrian and Peter turned 100 today.

To be precise, their birthdays are both today. Adrian (my sister’s husband) turned 38, and Peter (my step-father) turned 62.

To celebrate the occasion, they’re having a joint birthday party on Saturday.

So, happy 100th birthday, Adrian and Peter!

(I do have a great aunt who turned 100 last year — on her own, that is.)

Melbourne transport

Where are the green men?

A number of traffic lights used for crossing the “little” streets in central Melbourne don’t have green/red men.

William/Little Lonsdale Sts

Some do, however, particularly along Swanston Street where there are heavy pedestrian flows and — I suspect — more people likely to be just following everyone else like sheep, and not looking for cars before they cross the road.

Swanston/Little Bourke Sts

I had been assuming that if there was no green/red man, you could cross at any time if no cars were coming. Not so, says the VicRoads web site:

Fines apply to pedestrians who commit the following offences:

cross against an amber or red traffic light

Of course, it’s uncertain what is likely to happen if caught crossing on a red in a spot where you can’t physically see the light in question.

Queen/Little Lonsdale Sts


The power of marketing

I was in the supermarket with an unnamed person.

They spotted a packet near the cash register: Mentos, *Special edition*. Some weird-arse flavour not normally available.

Picked it up and appeared to seriously consider buying it. Not because it was Mentos, which they don’t normally buy, but because it was a *Special edition*.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of marketing.


January’s train

I got to have a short ride in the new X’Trapolis train introduced into service today. The government calls it “Train 2”, however the journos prefer call it after the month it was meant to be in service, eg “The January train”.

For all the consternation about a reduction in seats, seeing it in the flesh confirms my view that the design is okay. Basically there are no 3-in-a-row seats (which often go to waste as few people want to sit in the middle), and a wider aisle. There’s also a lot more straps to hold onto along the aisle — which surely should be a priority for an upgrade to the rest of the current fleet.

New ("January") train

The scrolling displays are higher resolution, as are the external destination indicators, making them much clearer and more readable than on the older X’Trapolis trains.

One other difference is the wheelchair ramps are secured in the passenger doorways, like in a Siemens train.

This is the second train of 38 in the current batch. Because of the delays in getting these trains into service, it’s got a lot of media interest.

Channel 7 interviewing passengers on the new train

See tonight’s channel 7 or 9 news to find out got said in the vox pops.

Update 5:50pm. Apparently this afternoon it broke down at Glen Waverley. Metro Trains said in a Tweet: the new train ran back-2-back services over 8 1/2 hours & dev’d a fault at GW. It’s having a full exam and necessary repairs.


Sunday Life

Sometime last year one of the magazines that came with The Sunday Age, Sunday Life, changed its formula. I used to find at least something interesting while flicking through it. Since the change, nothing.

I was thinking that it had turned into a women’s magazine. One only has to look at the author names of letters they’ve published over the last four weeks to know it’s almost entirely women who are reading:

Sunday Life letters, last four weeks

(The unisex names were Hilary — almost certainly female I suspect — and Sam.)

But here’s what clinched it: I found the blurb to prospective advertisers:

Sunday Life is a magazine which delivers our readers a distinctive point of difference on Sunday and a fresh approach to a discerning female audience not found in any other newspaper inserted magazine.


Sunday Life knows what women care about.

So… any of you blokes out there — don’t feel guilty for not even glancing at this mag anymore.