Consider this an experiment… a post each weekend summing up a few things from the week.
Tuesday 2015-12-08 — Flagstaff station to open on weekends from January. The Victorian Government finally confirmed what we already knew. Not before time.
Tuesday 2015-12-08 — Ventura Buses has its Christmas bus out and about again, and a competition if you post a selfie with it.
Tuesday 2015-12-08 — The state government announced the Western Distributor has been green-lit. It’s certainly less evil than East West Link, but Yarraville residents are rightly concerned, and it may flood the north-west end of the CBD with more cars — precisely what isn’t needed.
And remember, there was on mention of this road during the election. It’s $5.5 billion, so it’s a huge project, but as with East West Link, we didn’t vote for it.
Part of the plan is to further widen the Westgate freeway west of the bridge. Over the years it’s gone from 6 lanes to 8 lanes… now it’ll be 12. Funny how they always seem to fill up with cars.
And make a note of the government claim of a 20 minute trip saving. From what I can see of the Business Case, that seems very tenuous, and even if achieved, is unlikely to be lasting.
Wednesday 2015-12-09 — City of Port Phillip gave approval to their Acland Street redevelopment plan. It’s not perfect (tram stops will be further away from the bus stops, making interchange more difficult) but it’ll be a big step forward in providing accessible tram stops and reducing cars from what should be a very pedestrian and PT-friendly area.
Wednesday 2015-12-09 — The Auditor General published its report into the East West Link debacle. It makes for some interesting reading.
The Age published a blistering criticism of the State Coalition over this, and notes that Labor doesn’t come away unscathed — it’s well worth a read. The Herald Sun managed to completely blame Labor, at least in their headlines. Amazing. (The actual article was a little more well-balanced.)
Wednesday 2015-12-09 — PTV announced the fare rise for January 2016. Oh sorry, fare “adjustment”. Most fares are up about 4% — as expected, this is CPI plus 2.5%. It was originally budgeted by the Napthine government for each January from 2015 to 2018, and has been continued by Labor.
PTV is taking the opportunity to remove some quirks: two zone regional trips will drop in price — at present they’re more expensive than three zone trips! And trip time allowances will be increased slightly for three or more zones, which may help reduce the current problems with default fares triggering.
Thursday 2015-12-10 — Crikey uncovered (pay wall) that Lend Lease had suggested to both major parties that a rail alignment be included in the East West Link. Both rejected it. Rail doesn’t really make sense along there. For rail to work effectively it needs to directly serve major destinations. Having trains bypassing the busiest part of the metropolitan area wouldn’t work.
Thursday 2015-12-10 — The new Night Bus network timetables are online now, following the Night Train and Night Tram timetables which went online some weeks ago. If you take a look at the network map, then search the PTV web site for the route number, they’ll come up. The routes originating in the CBD are mostly half-hourly. The suburban routes are mostly hourly, and seem to be synchronised with train arrivals from the CBD at the most obvious station — for instance the 978 departs Elsternwick five minutes after the train arrives. Routes aren’t necessarily well timed for other station connections, and it’s not yet clear what protocols will be in place to handle train delays.
By the way the hourly strains are staggered on some lines to provide half-hourly services to Caulfield, Footscray and Clifton Hill.
Thursday 2015-12-10 — It was reported that City of Knox had fined a real estate agent for blocking footpaths with advertising. Good. The agent has shown no remorse. Perhaps someone needs to explain to him that no, not everybody can walk around the signs.
Friday 2015-12-11 — The state government announced a review of fare enforcement (See also: Age story). It makes sense to overhaul this — too many people are getting caught in the net, having tried to do the right thing to pay their fare and either making an innocent mistake or being let down by the unreliable Myki system. One big problem is the lack of discretion allowed for by Authorised Officers and in the Departmental appeal process.
Penalty fares in particular need reform — they were supposedly modelled on Britain, but in fact are quite different. UK penalty fares vary, but for instance in London aren’t paid on the spot — you have 21 days to pay the cheaper rate, then it increases. This allows time to appeal.
Friday 2015-12-11 — Rail Futures released a report proposing tram/light rail expansion across Melbourne. (Herald Sun article, paywalled). I’m not sure why this has gained prominence now — the report seems to have been published in March.
Some in the media seemed to assume the report had some kind of official status, but alas no. Hopefully the government will respond, but they’ve shown a remarkable reluctance in recent years to acknowledge the need for any tram route extensions, even blindingly obvious short affordable extensions to trams so they terminate at local railway stations instead of in the middle of nowhere. Those would improve network connectivity and help balance out passenger demand, which is heavily skewed towards the CBD ends of routes.
Edit — additional item:
Friday 2015-12-11 — the woefully named Bendigo Metro (stage 1) timetables have been released. It consists of a handful of extra services, all weekday (and most weekend) trains stopping at Kangaroo Flat in suburban Bendigo, and some trains extended to either Epsom or Eaglehawk. It starts on January 31st, in conjunction with Bendigo local bus service changes.
It makes sense to maximise the potential of Bendigo’s V/Line services for local travel, but with most services at best once an hour, it’s not of course a suburban “metro” service anything like that seen in Melbourne. Later stages are apparently likely to increase services.
Thankfully they haven’t gone down the road of dedicated Bendigo local trains, which would be incredibly expensive to provide for little benefit. I know people probably prefer rail to bus, but really for local travel I suspect introducing Smartbus services (eg every 15 minutes) to Bendigo’s busiest PT corridors would be much more successful, and probably far cheaper.
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