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It was expected that Sydney’s newest light rail network would be bombarded with commuters this morning as it was put to its first real test — the dreaded Monday morning commute.
The $2.9 billion CBD and South East light rail opened to the public for the first time on Saturday — a day that was plagued with technical faults.
But people didn’t seem to mind too much, after all it was free to use and those who had been drinking all day at the races had probably lost all concept of time.
This morning marked an altogether different challenge for the new service as suited people with briefcases made their way to the new tram stations.
Upon arriving at the service’s starting/ending point in Randwick this morning, news.com.au noticed something bizarre about the new service — barely anyone was using it.
We arrived just before 8am which you would expect to be one of the busiest times of the day — given it takes up to 50 minutes to reach the harbour from there.
There were a number of “ask me anything” stewards in high-vis jackets smiling and waving at us when we arrived, but they were the only ones on the platform.
One tram departed as we arrived and it had — we estimate — around a dozen people on it, and, even after waiting a few minutes, the platform was virtually empty.
There was pretty much nobody on the platform, at rush hour.Source:Supplied
The first tram we saw departing had around a dozen people on it.Source:Supplied
The trams have a capacity to move up to 13,500 commuters per hour (6750 in each direction) during peak times and Labor had warned the trams would be opening at capacity.
They warned that commuters would be “standing like a bunch of sardines on the platform” when the trams started running — but it clearly wasn’t the case this morning.
We chatted to a few people who’d turned up, and they told us they knew the journey would take longer than the 35-minute bus journey they were used to, but they just wanted to try it out.
Running out of people to speak to, we jumped on board and the tram began jerking around the tracks and stopped at a couple of sparsely-populated stations at UNSW and Wansey Rd.
It began to pick up some speed as it cut through Moore Park, and some of those on board told us they were enjoying the ride.
One of them, Rachael from Randwick told us the tram seemed cleaner, less crowded and smoother than taking the buses, which had become a “nightmare” in recent years.
Others told me it they thought it was good that trams were taking traffic off the roads, but not everyone was impressed.
Linda Tinsley from the Blue Mountains was stood waiting at Central Station when we alighted in Surry Hills and she told us she’ll never use the service again.
“Saving even the smallest amount time is so important when you’re going to work on a morning like this,” she said.
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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