Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Les trams

Bridge Road is great for tram travellers (and therefore Cottage stayers!) as there is a choice of two trams heading into the city - the 75 lumbers along Flinders Street (Federation Square) and around past Southern Cross Station while the 48 lumbers down Collins Street, past Southern Cross and over to Docklands. Either are great for the city and also for Etihad Stadium. To have the choice of two trams so close to the Cottage really is a bonus. And they run pretty regularly - except when you're in a hurry!
Laying the lines in 1927 - ready for the 75 and 48 trams!
I used to receive a questionnaire from Yarra Trams who have the contract for both tram routes but obviously I didn't answer the surveys with enough positive responses as I have been 'dropped' from their circulation list! One of their proposals was for 2 mega-stops in Bridge Road. I questionned why and recommended that they spend the money on more trams and better service. Silly old me! As you will see if you board near the Cottage my answer was ignored and Yarra Trams have now installed what I consider two dangerous mega-stops along Bridge Road. One wonders why? I suspect it has something to do with easy access for the disabled, wheelchairs and prams. Now I have absolutely nothing against those very valid and important needs but by providing only 2 stops between Punt Road and Church Street - and no others - seems rather bizarre. If you need to board the tram with a pram or wheelchair on the remainder of the 50 stops (on the 48 route) then it's back to the old way of boarding (passengers helping and/or sometimes the driver having to help passengers to board and disembark). And - most of the trams still require a step up into them even from the mega-stop island. Which rather defeats the purpose of the exercise in my opinion. I think the mega-stops are dangerous - not just for those wanting to access the trams but also for cars travelling past them. 
When is a road not a road - when it's a dangerous ramped mega-stop
A friend reported seeing a car mounted at a bizarre angle - half on the road and half on the mega-stop. I watch drivers dithering as they try to decide whether they are allowed to travel following the tram tracks or whether they can drive over the hump of these new instillations. Strip shopping which is so integral to Melbourne with carparking along the kerb has also been diminished. Around 24 carparking spaces (6 x 2 x 2) have been removed just for the 2 stops - I just can't fathom the reasoning behind it at all. It can't make the shop owners who are already struggling very happy.
The tram recovery vehicle - a good old truck!
I hate to think of the cost of these two mega-stops.  And for me the piece-de-resistance recently was seeing a bevvy of 8 trams (if that's what a line of stationary trams is called!?) in a row waiting in Bridge Road for the lead tram to be towed away by a truck! And to make matters worse it was one of the new French trams that wobble at speed and turn corners with difficulty, but do provide access for those wheelchairs and prams. It certainly made a farce of bringing our trams into the 20th century!
A 'bevvy' of 8 trams waiting patiently (?!) for the new tram to be towed away!
If you have a smartphone you can make your tram travelling easier by downloading the free apps. For your iPhone it is Tramtracker and for android phones it is Tramhunter. Both give you the time of arrival to the minute of your choice of trams/routes. I find Tramhunter great to ascertain when the next trams are coming as it lists their arrival time at your chosen stop - for example 3, 9 or 15 minutes. It gives me time to cram another thing into my schedule and not waste time waiting for the tram - or worse still - missing one by 30 seconds! 
A great app - as is Tramtracker
So armed with my MYKI card (a pretty useful tool now that I'm used to it - sort of!) and taking 'on board' the above provisos I do use the 48 and the 75 a lot. They're pretty quick, easy and safe. On the whole we're lucky to have them. Enjoy.

Bowen Cottage client comment: What a location! (and near the trams!)

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