Glenhuntly and Truganini road track and overhead upgrade
Construction of new platform stops on St Kilda Rd - 11 June to early August 2015
Tram routes changed, abolished in shake-up to ease congestion
Moonee Ponds tram upgrade project
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Toorak Terminus tram upgrade project
Record tram performance in 2014
May 2015 performance results
Your new Jolimont/MCG tram stop
The idea of freebies is always thought to be attractive to the public. It’s why companies insist on plying us with drink bottles, bags and caps just for being part of an event.
So the initial concept of the free tram zone sounded generous and appealing. But in reality it is a gimmick that has overstayed its welcome and needs to go.
Currently, State Parliament is considering widening the free zone to include more of Melbourne’s tourist attractions, plus hospitals, to encourage people to take public transport. But by doing this, you’re going to put more of the locally based travellers off using it, because more trams will become more crowded, for a longer distance.
Trams are often sardine-like crowded in the CBD.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO
It sounds altruistic to extend the free tram network out to the hospitals, but really, unless your journey originates in the CBD, you’re already paying for the transport to get into the free tram zone, so it’s not really free.
The zone also encourages laziness in a population that is already fairly sedentary. People who could otherwise walk the small stretch they are travelling, jump aboard a passing tram and add to the sardine-tin feel that plagues trams through the CBD, making it difficult for paying customers to access a service they legitimately need to use. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for someone with mobility issues to have to attempt to navigate such trams.
Tourists should be happily welcomed to Melbourne, but they should not be the main focus of our public transport policy. I would think tourists expect to pay to travel around – it is the norm elsewhere – so instead of offering them free travel which creates flow-on problems for regular users, offer them easier ticketing.
The current myki system is frustratingly difficult to access for short-term visitors. Or even better, have a discounted tourist pass which is readily available and covers travel to the main tourist attractions.
And why all this focus on the CBD? If we genuinely want to address congestion, then the attention should surely be on providing more frequent and reliable services to outlying suburbs, especially to those who currently have very little access.
The free tram network is really only free to the people who live, or are staying, in the CBD because everyone else has either paid on their journey inwards or has driven, the latter which we are trying to avoid.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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