Major event at MCG: Sorry, no PT

It’s pretty pathetic when the organisers of a major event at the MCG have to tell thousands of participants that there’s no public transport.

marathon-mcg

With start times of 7.00am, 8.00am and 7.30am respectively, public transport is not an option for Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km competitors.

Why? Well despite the MCG being served by Jolimont station and major interchange station Richmond, as well as three tram routes and two bus routes, Sunday morning services — in particular trains — start too late.

Why? Because it’s always been like that. Decades ago, Melbourne’s working week ran from Monday through to Saturday morning, so services on those days start early, with trains and trams running by 5am.

I can only assume that on Sundays everybody would sleep in before heading off to church, and PT services are stuck in that era, with the first trains not reaching the CBD (and MCG) until perilously close to 8am. (Some of the trams reach there earlier, but not by much — and their coverage and capacity is limited. Nightrider buses also run, but finishes too early… and few people know where they go.)

There was a push to change this. In 1996 Jeff Kennett went into the election promising:

There will be only two timetables, weekday and weekend/public holiday, thus providing customers with greater certainty and a better overall level of service.

Kennett was re-elected, and in 1999 delivered some, but not all, of the promise, with Sunday train and tram timetables changed to match Saturdays, but only between 11am and 7pm. This was a substantial boost, don’t get me wrong — it doubled train frequencies on many lines — but the late Sunday start problem remains.

It’s not just a problem for the Melbourne Marathon. A lot of fun runs start at 7am or 8am on Sundays, many of them in central locations that are otherwise well-served by public transport.

Not to mention everybody else. I’ve heard of people who work on Sunday mornings unable to reach the CBD or suburbs by train in time to start at 8am. Plenty of people would benefit from an earlier start.

There does seem to be a push on at the moment to upgrade off-peak services. Let’s hope before too long the problem of the late Sunday start is fixed.

Update Tuesday: This has been highlighted in a letter to The Age.

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15 Replies to “Major event at MCG: Sorry, no PT”

  1. Yep, and when I perform on Sunday morning at a church *at* Southgate, ie opposite Flinders St Station, many student members of the orchestra are late because rehearsal begins at 8am, and they can’t get there on PT in time for the beginning.

  2. Hahaha. I used to whinge about this a while ago but the people on those enthusiast times told me to stop getting up so early.

    I’ve seen some other oddities about Sunday service, like when I was down at Sandringham the other week, I noticed on the timetable that the Sunday morning departures are only every 40 minutes from the first train at 7:30 or so until about 10am. Yet the late night departures (until 11pm) are every 20 minutes. Why?

    I’d also hate to be making a cross-town trip, or be heading *out* of the city on a Sunday morning. The first outbound trains are usually formed by the first inbound ones, so you can’t get to most outer suburbs before 9am. Which would suck for anyone who works in the suburbs.

  3. I hear ya. There is the Around the Bay in a Day next weekend too, leaving from the Alexandra/Botanic Gardens… same story as for the fun run this weekend. The first group (250km!) set out at 5:30am, but even for us sedate 8am 50km-ers there is no train from anywhere in time, so for many, unless they are lucky, there will be a ride TO the start, then the ride, then possibly a ride home.

    It means that 50km will be more like 58-66 for me (and this is after smashing my knee three weeks ago – every extra km will hurt. I can’t be dropped off, as mr flerdle is riding 210km). I’d hate to be coming from the outer suburbs. And yeah, as you said Daniel, even if you were allowed bikes on trams, the pattern for trams seems to be the earliest getting to the city around 7:24 to 7:45am.

    In Lausanne, bikes are allowed on the trolley-buses – there is a nice big space in the middle. Freakin’ AWESOME.

  4. Yup this used to annoy the hell outta me when I used to finish work @ 6.30am on a Sunday. No PT for me to take home, not by a long shot. So of course I had to drive :|

  5. (to clarify in my previous comment – Daniel didn’t discuss bikes, just the timing of trams. Only noticed afterwards I got the bits of the sentence the wrong way round for what I meant!)

  6. I hear you…here in Toronto the Monday-Saturday trains begin at 6am, but the first Sunday train is at 9am. Getting to the airport for a Sunday morning flight is not fun for the pocketbook if you don’t own a car.

  7. I got shafted by the race in an effort to get to St Kilda Beach with the good lady friend. I feel sorry for the locals, having dozens of roads closed. Dandy Rd was not pretty.

    There is a flip side to this though. While PT is pretty ordinary on Sundays, parking is usually easily found and less restricted. Traffic, especially early morning, is light in most cases I’ve found also.

  8. Why do these stupid runs start so early ?

    If the trams started earlier, the morons who organise the runs would probably want to start them at 4 AM.

    And don’t tell me its too hot.

  9. Why isn’t this at least being talked about?

    I have to work the odd Sunday in the CBD and as I used to walk from Fitzroy it wasn;t an issue until one day I decided to catch the tram – to my amazement there were no trams at that hour – WTF?

    It’s even worse for trains on the Epping/Hurstbridge lines – again – what the?

    This should be an easy win for the PTUA and public transport commuters in general – no additional infrastructure is required – a minimal impact financially for a big outcome, and it would not only *seem* like they are improving the system, they actually would be…

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