I don't understand. Why does Melbourne have the dirtiest trains in Australia if nobody rides them?
Here's what happened in Melbourne.
They built the greatest and most extensive commuter rail network imaginable. They built an amazing network of tramways (streetcar). Then they let the two compete against each other, and let all of the different bus companies compete as well.
You can't easily transfer from the train to the tram. Even though the train stations are next to tram tracks, you have to walk a couple blocks to a tram stop.
You can't easily transfer from the train to the bus, or vice versa. On a time trial I conducted, we came into a train station on time to watch the bus dissapear into the distance. To get to the bus stop, we had to make our way around a razorwire cyclone fence, jaywalk across a 6 lane road (no pedestrian crossing), then walk two and a half blocks to a vandalized stop - then wait half an hour, as the bus times were arranged so that the transfer would be impossible. We wanted to get on a different bus, but the routes snaked around and were spaced to make that equally difficult.
Buses and trams in Melbourne do not have bike racks. In fact, the bicyclists I talked to there were impressed by the cleverness of the idea, then disturbed to learn that such things were essentially standard even in such places as Fairbanks, Alaska.
If you ride the train, the entire route outside the window you will take is covered completely in graffiti. No-one seems to care.
When you get to a train station, nobody is there to watch it. You will have to wait half an hour for your train, perhaps, because of the non-meshing schedules. Usually, the stops are set away from things. If someone decides to attack you, there will be no-one to come to your rescue.
Meanwhile, the highway engineers have slowly been building freeways following a plan they were ordered to scrap, one engineered around the premise that anyone could drive at the freeway speed limit at the height of rush hour and never encounter a hint of congestion.
I took my Masters degree in city planning, specializing in public transportation, there. They have some of the best theorists on public transit in the world in that city - all in a state of perpetual cynicism and despair at seeing such an amazing infrastructure used in such a pathetic manner.
I dread having to catch Public Transport in the small amount of times I have no choice.
Also recently, in 2008, the last few times I have caught it, its delayed, re-routed and packed to the rafters with people.
I can't believe I pay for it and if your ever caught without a ticket, watch out!
You'll almost be murdered by the transit police.
Still, it's the same in just about every city in Australia -- well, almost every city. Here on the GC it's about 10 times worse. We have a total of three, that's right, three train stations in the entire city -- all built in the middle of nowhere, with only one route -- to Brisbane. Buses? They might be an option if you live within two blocks of the Gold Coast Highway, otherwise forget it, they'll have stopped for the day by the time you finish work. And that's if they show up at all. Personally I make a point of having more than one bike in good working order, so that if something happens to my primary bike, I can ride the other one. It's either that or pay for a taxi.
That said, I think that generally speaking, the biggest problem with the public transport is the public. Especially in Australia which is rapidly turning into a nation of vapid bogans. On the rare occasions when I use a bus to go somewhere, there's almost invariably some dickhead getting on who thinks they know where the bus is going better than the bus driver and wants to waste everyone's time by arguing the point. Now if that idiot (or others like them) uses buses on a regular basis, you soon see why they're all running at least 15 minutes late.
The only real solution is the one in place in London, with a high speed underground rail network. I had the pleasure of using it last year. Even if a train isn't running, there's another one along within a few minutes anyway. Best of all, there's virtually zero opportunity for a bogan to sit and argue with a train driver and hold everyone else up.
Our public transport system is quite effective. Trams across most of the city every 9-10 minutes during the day, and 15-30 minutes apart at night. And also plenty of bus lines throughout, especially in the less densely populated areas, once every 15-30 minutes. The trunk bus lines run every 5 minutes during peak hours, and every 10 minutes outside that during the day. 15-30 minutes apart at night.
For most journeys, there are multiple paths you can choose, if a certain line has a problem (accident, delays, et c), so that you still get there, even if it takes a bit longer.
A pass valid for a month costs the equivalent of US$70, but you can also buy cards with a certain number of "tokens", that you can use whenever you need, if you're not a frequent user (like me). If you're really unprepared, you can buy a ticket from the bus driver or from a vending machine (on the trams), but they're quite expensive compared to the other options.
A single journey paid for using tokens or cash, is valid for 90 minutes throughout the city, no matter how many times you get on a new tram or bus, or which direction you're going.
All in all, a great public transport system. And yet, a majority still prefers to drive even for short journeys. The lure of the automobile is terrible...
Here's a short film I've made showing mainly trams, but also buses, passing through the main hub of the public transport network.
I wonder how many trips Mr Stone does on trains. I wonder if he has travelled on trains in London and Paris and the US which comparatively, are filthy.
I wonder when people like those quoted in articles like this are going to realise that cycling is NOT the panacea to transporting people to and from work, but rather is a small contributor and always will be. Public transport options, yes. Walking, yes. Car-pooling, yes. Cycling no, because there are people who are never, ever going to get on a bike -- they simply cannot be forced to.
I also love this stuff about carbon emissions targets that Ms Rice refers to. The trains and trams in Melbourne are powered by electricity which is generated by... wait for it... brown coal! Yep, get the drivers out of their cars and using electrically... errr, um... coal-powered vehicles.
There is also this other factor that seems to elude the minds of cycling advocates and quasi-advocates like Ms Rice -- or maybe they just don't understand it. But if you are going to create a demand for something (such as cycle commuting), then you need to be ready to deliver what is demanded. Right now there is almost nothing available in the way of co-ordinated, reputable rider training courses, appropriate bikes on the retail market, and facilities that are conducive to commuting (I will leave separated facilities such as bike paths out of this, but will include undercover storage and change facilities). This is apart from any education programs for drivers and a legislative process that actually protects cyclists' interest (as in some countries in Europe where a driver is always held responsible in a collision wtih a cyclist until proven otherwise).
Bicycle Victoria is virtually impotent unless it's organising rides in other States or countries. VicRoads used to try (at least when I had some association with bicycling advocacy), but it's brief was more for on-road facilities. There is no co-ordination or cohesion amongst cyclists and cycling organisations, much less an interest by those groups in creating meaningful, working partnerships with various levels of community (including the RACV) and government; in other words, if there isn't confrontation, there's nothing
So when Ms Rice glibly calls for people to ride bicycles instead of drive motor vehicles, does she know that cycling is in a much much much more parlous state than Victoria's public transport system ever could be?
EDIT: I also have to call into question the headings on this thread and on the articles as linked. Nowhere does it say that Melbourne is worst at public transport use -- it says that the decline in public transport use is the greatest in Melbourne... which indicates not an increase in Sydney, but ALSO a decline. And the comparison is only of two cities -- Sydney and Melbourne. Hmmmm... statistics and errant manipulation. No wonder cycling doesn't have a favourable public face.
Last edited by Rowan; 04-28-08 at 04:55 AM.
Dream. Dare. Do.
Yup. There are all kinds of disabilities that make bikes and walking impossible. Many of them are invisible - you can't see if someone has the kind of heart trouble that makes too much exercise dangerous, or if they need a hip replacement.Cycling no, because there are people who are never, ever going to get on a bike -- they simply cannot be forced to.
Bikes are good for some people (like me!), but not everyone is like me.
As far as electricity goes... I'm not entirely sure the average person even knows what sort of power plant provides their electricity. And I'm quite certain that the average enviromentalist is vague on which kinds of electricity generation are cleanest. Protesting against the local nuke plant and proposing a coal plant was fairly common *in Pennsylvania*. It was obvious that most protesters didn't have the faintest notion of what was involved in coal mining, or in coal burning... even tho coal is a major industry in the state.
IMHO (as a local) Melbourne public transport is pretty bad, but it's a tough gig - it's a very sprawled out city. The real problem is money hasn't been spent on the infrastructure in the last few decades, so the train lines are at capacity, the trains are slow, and the level crossings are so bad there are places where trains are limited to 5kph! Meanwhile, billions has been spent on freeways, tunnels etc.
I do agree that it's pretty pointless to simply "call" for people to change behaviour, when that behaviour is not attractive to them, or the infrastructure is not there. It was like a few months (years?) ago when they abolished Zone 3 to encourage more people to take the train. Result? Instant overcrowding. Great.
Of course our trains are dirty, we've been under ever-increasing water restrictions for what, four years now? Methinks Mr Stone should be more horrified at how clean some people's cars are...
It's only natural that PT usage is declining. It's been at capacity for ages now with no investment in infrastructure, so it couldn't possibly increase. If the governments would stop pissing money into building more freeways and widening roads to "decrease congestion", and actually made some useful long-term investment, we might someday actually have the capacity to support an increase in PT use. But, unfortunately, the only governments that actually make it into office are the ones playing the short-term game and pandering to the 73% of people who're commuting in cars...
It's a cultural thing that happens when a country has a boom period and getting money on credit is a snip. Everyone is suddenly "wealthy" and can pick and choose their lifestyle. And who among the "wealthy" would want to travel by public transport with all those derros, invalids and losers? It's why the salss of 4WDs (SUVs to you lot in North America) are still booming, even though the price of petrol has hit $1.60 a litre (around $USD6.40 a gallon) and it costs around $250 to fill the tank of some of these vehicles.
Look at the money the State Government was prepared to throw at the car industry to keep loss-making plants operating. There are jobs at the end of the line, and those jobs vote.
The issues are far, far deeper than whatever excuse for a cycling lobby wants to admit. The opportunity to build the relationships existed back in the early 2000s. The industry -- retail, wholesale, advocacy and sport -- failed dismally. Every year that passes is another two years lost at least in getting cycling into a legitimate position as a viable, long-term transport mode.
Whining about perceived deficiencies in other transport modes (those that cycling should be building sound alliances with) just doesn't cut it.
Dream. Dare. Do.
I used Melbourne public transit extensively when I was there. The train lines cover almost the entire city, and you can take your bike on the train if you avoid peak hours/directions to get to the places in between lines. But I'm from Utah, so I have nothing else to compare it to. The buses were great, too--if you want to take hours to get anywhere.
Ah, I'm getting nostalgic. Graffiti on every surface, stoned/drunk teenagers, unstaffed stations late at night, needles, purple lights in the restrooms, people having sex in public. . .no wonder ridership is down.
i don't remember the trains or trams being that dirty when i lived in melbourne in 2004. maybe things have changed since then? then again, i live in nyc so maybe my standards are a bit low
"only"? that's more than one in three.
Dunno, never used the buses. You get so used to the certainty of trams that buses seem like a pointless risk. Heh.The buses were great, too--if you want to take hours to get anywhere.
How many "advocacy" organisations regularly consult with any more than a few core members? How many of them consult with the people currently riding for transport? Not very many. I remember at one meeting being told that I didn't know what I was talking about because I was "an experienced cyclist". I'm still waiting for someone to explain that one to me. I would have thought an experienced cyclist who is out there dealing with road conditions in the real world day after day would have some insight into a particular problem or whether or not a particular solution is going to work, but apparently not.
It seems to me that most "advocacy" groups are only interested in a few core members having their own little place to ride on Saturday morning without cars, never mind the fact that they'll probably all drive to get there. This is why they promote the "cycling is dangerous" message that only serves to scare people away. That, and the people who want to hang onto their titles like "Bicycle Queensland Manager" or whatever else because they like the sound of it. There are few people there with any real interest in promoting or increasing bicycle use, and those that have such interests are often shouted down repeatedly until they give up through sheer frustration.
The facts are that people will only consider cycling as a transport option if they have some desire to do it already, or if the other options become less desireable. Unfortunately, most cycling "promotion" seems to focus only on the second part of the equation (i.e, "driving is bad"), which is something advocates have little or no control over. What advocates should be doing is concentrating on the first part, which means waiting until the desire naturally arises (or even, God forbid, promoting the desire by actually saying something positive about cycling), and encouraging those who want to give cycling a try with training courses and support. Instead, all we have is the "trade union" scenario described above, but no real support for the newbie.
When did Melbourne's public transport tank? About 12 years ago I lived in Brunswick East and remember it having very good public transport.
Sydney's has sucked for a long time but mainly due to the government running it down and the amount of control exerted by unions. Still, Sydney's was still pretty good when you have to get around and usually much better than driving.