King Street

What’s so special about King Street, in Melbourne’s Central Business District?

Well, it’s the only main street in the Hoddle Grid which has absolutely no scheduled public transport running along it.

So you might think, given the rhetoric is to help people get onto PT, especially for trips into the CBD, that they’d avoid giving private vehicles along King Street priority at intersections — especially since Wurundjeri Way and Citylink are available as city bypass routes.

But no.

King Street is the only main street in the CBD that gets 2/3 of the signal cycle time at most intersections — 60 out of 90 seconds, which means pedestrians get less time to cross it, and trams and buses along intersecting streets have to wait. In the case of the trams, they stop despite the lack of any tram stops there.

King/Bourke Sts - tram waits for lights

King Street is about the only main street in the CBD that gets green arrows for right-turning traffic, even in the middle of the day. (At least one Exhibition Street intersection gets them in peak hour, but certainly not at lunch time.)

King Street and Bourke Street is one of the only CBD intersections where turning cars don’t have to do hook turns to stay out of the way of the trams. At least, that’s how it works in practice. It’s uncertain quite what was intended, because although the correct arrow markings are on the street for hook turns, no signs are displayed, so motorists ignore the arrows. So it’s not uncommon to see trams having to gong their bells because of cars blocking them, and also cars zooming off narrowly avoiding pedestrians when they see a gap in the traffic.

King/Bourke Sts - tram and right-turning car

All this makes King Street an anachronism. It belongs to the 60s car-domination thinking which is long gone. It probably doesn’t need PT services serving it (given blanket coverage of surrounding streets), but it sure as hell shouldn’t have the road traffic priority that it does.