Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Prahran: Tram It, Dammit

This week's Stonnington Leader has a decent amount of election coverage, although its treatment of the issue of the week, transport, was monumentally lame. The biggest transport issue for Prahranites: are the old W-Class trams on the Chapel Street route too noisy and cumbersome? Local residents complained about the noise, Tony said he liked 'em and Clem didn't bother. Right.

How about this as the transport question for Prahrainians: what can we do to increase capacity on peak hour trains? As most transport wonks will tell you, it's a question of infrastructure.

Firstly, Melbourne's antiquated signalling system limits the frequency of services because it requires big gaps between trains. It can and should be overhauled.

Secondly, the number of tracks at some outer-suburban parts of the network are inadquate and need to be increased. This effects the frequency of services in the inner-city. Triplication all the way to Dandenong would do wonders.

Thirdly, the city loop is at its limits. The long term option needs to be the building of a fifth and sixth loop, but in the mean time there need to be more train lines that "do a Sandringham" and go direct to Flinders Street.

Looking beyond the Prahranese, there is a desperate need for infrastructure in the outer 'burbs. The trainline to Rowville has been mooted for decades but is no closer to being built. Deviating from the Dandenong line at Huntingdale, it could service Rowville, Scoresby, Mulgrave and Monash University very easily, overhauling that part of the city's reputation as a public transport black hole. Millions have been spend studying the possibility. Electrification to Craigieburn and (finally) the train line to South Morang should be high on the agenda.

So is either major party walking the walk? Not likely. Whilst Rome burns, the two parties fiddle.

Adjusting ticket pricing is the easy option that the parties have adopted. Baillieu wants to provide (PDF warning) free transport to students and merge zones 2 and 3. Talk about missing the point! For those who live within range of decent public transport, PT is undoubtedly better value than a car. For those who live beyond decent public transport, no financial saving will outweigh the inconvenience of using it. Bottom line is that consumers are much more sensitive to service levels and infrastructure than they are to pricing.

Credit ought to go to the Libs, though, for promising the building of the Cranbourne East train line and the extention to South Morang as praised by the fine folks at the Public Transport Users Association.

As for the ALP, thus far into the campaign this is what they have to offer (PDF warning) on public transport:
FARE GO PACKAGE
HOW THE BRACKS GOVERNMENT WILL CUT THE PRICE OF TRAVELLING ON PUBLIC
TRANSPORT


Yawn.

3 comments:

Kit Fur Cat said...

Having moved from my parents place in Dandenong to Croydon I have experienced various aspects of the joy that is zone 3 living.

The Dandenong line has nothing on the Lilydale/ Belgrave line. Cancellations, dodgy connecting bus services that finish at 5 for the route I am on, poor parking availability, half hourly trains, little or no shelter at Ringwood, three changes to get from Mooroolbark to Melbourne central on a weekend, etc..

If it wasn't for the proximity to people like Councillor Donovan and the nearness to my parents I'd move back to the hassles of the Dandenong line any time.)

*Expletive deleted* you know a train line is bad when you become nostalgic for Dandenong in any capacity.

I don't mind paying for a zone 3; I object that we pay extra and get screwed on services.

Peter Parker said...

KFC, it's unfair to compare Mooroolbark to Dandenong; a fairer comparison would be Mooroolbark with Berwick.

In this situation, Mooroolbark is superior. Both in terms of (i) service levels (especially weekends) and (ii) delays/cancellations (the Caulfield group generally has more than than the Burnley group)

Polly said...

Firstly, Peter's abbreviation of kit_fur_cat's handle to KFC cracked me up :-).

Ari - small comment - it's a bit of a stretch to claim that the Rowville line will service Scoresby, maybe you mean Wheelers Hill? The bit of Scoresby where people live is much closer to Burwood Hwy, and would be better serviced by a tram extension to Knox.