This is something I've been bitching about for a long time. You know there is something seriously wrong with your cities public transport when on a Friday afternoon, you hop on a city-bound train from a stop, that is approximately 3 km from the city centre and it takes nearly 55 minutes to get there! How is this even possible? Well, I'll tell you how. Just meters before our main train station Flinders Street, the train was stationary for 15 minutes, waiting for another train to leave the platform we were due to arrive on. Then, because the train ceases to travel through the city loop (CBD stops) in both directions at certain times, you have to go through Flinders Street to access these CBD stops - unhelpful and inefficient!
You also know there is something seriously wrong when one of Melbourne's biggest universities, which is out in the suburbs, can't be reached by train because the railway line doesn't go anywhere near it! So instead thousands of students have to get off at various other stops and wait around for buses that sometimes don't turn up, or they have to drive.
You also know things are seriously inadequate in this department when you don't have even a train line to your major airport - c'mon man! This is not good enough! I can only imagine what tourists must think? Archaic? Underdeveloped? Colonial? Well, quite frankly it's embarrassing! Our neighbours from Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Japan must think it's laughable! These countries have some of the worlds most efficient, sophisticated and advanced train systems, why don't we ask them for help?? Why not learn from the best? I've never understood this.
Just the other week I saw an incredible programme about Moscows' superb metro system. Not only are the metro stops historic architectural monuments, a visual feast and squeaky clean but they are super efficient! They transport more than 9 million people EVERY DAY across 12 lines and the wait time between trains during morning and evening rush hour is a mere 90 seconds.....90 bloody seconds! I nearly passed out! God, just imagine!
They even have a central circle which connects all the lines! So you don't have to go all the way in and then out of the CBD - genius! And, they have a monorail and....wait for it....a train to the airport!
Oh, but we have quaint trams, which much to my surprise is the largest tram network in the world. They run approximately every 10-12 minutes. They're also often stuck in traffic (I can't tell how many times I've waited for up to 30 minutes due to delays), they're also completely overcrowded in peak times and sadly, no longer have the option to buy a ticket on board. And the days of having a friendly conductor is ancient history too - it's a time I still think back to with fondness.
Our first steam railway was up and running in 1854, it was one line and 4 km long. Moscow's first line was opened in 1935, it was 11 km long and had 13 stations. Now, I realise there is a difference in our population numbers and Melbourne is a long way off from being a mega city but, we do have 4.5 million people and apparently 854,000 people travel to the city everyday.
I was also flabbergasted to read that there are actually plans in place to develop regional lines, expand the Melbourne metro and that there is a staggering $875 million in the budget to purchase new trains. Well, I do look forward to seeing some progress, however slow it may be, but as far as catching a train to the airport....well, probably not in my lifetime - that's still light years away!