- This is in answer to:
- If public transportation were available in your neighborhood, would you use it? See all answers
- March 31, 2012 by wondering
- Slow Train Coming
Can I put a qualifier on my answer? Yes, if public transportation THAT RAN EFFICIENTLY were available in my neighborhood, I would use it.
I'm lucky enough to live pretty close to the city and any inner suburb is about a half hour drive away at most. Which is lucky, because I don't like driving more than half an hour to get anywhere in the city, as mentioned in my previous blog post.
Here is one example of the inefficiency of Melbourne's public transport system. While it takes me 15 minutes to drive to work, it can take an hour and 15 to travel in by public transport. That makes it difficult to choose public transport over driving, for me.
In recent years - since starting a job that was not in, or walking distance from, the CBC, I rarely use public transport, because of the above mentioned expansion in my travel time. I don't enjoy getting up early for any reason, let alone rising an extra hour early, just to allow an extra hour to travel to work.
In Melbourne, our trainlines were built....um...a long time ago. If I was to draw a picture of the train lines in those days, I could draw a circle in the middle to represent Flinders Street Station, and then lines representing the lines out to the suburbs. It would look a little like the sun, with rays coming out of it, as drawn by a primary school child.
In those days, the outer suburbs probably took a long time to get to, but those same suburbs are now in the "Zone 1" (inner zone) area and take about 20 minutes to reach on a modern train, or even on the trains currently running on Melbourne's lines. The only change to the train system since it was first built is the City Loop. In 1981, this was a radical new system which allowed trains to travel underground to stations around the CBD!! (They may have got the idea from some little thing over in London).
Melbourne has continued to expand since those days, and now, what were little country towns 10 years ago are swallowed up and have become outer suburbs of Melbourne, but that basic rays--of-the-sun diagram has not changed. All that has happened regarding public transport is that country lines eventually became part of the metropolitan line.
Now, as any scientist can tell you, if you draw a basic sun-with-rays-coming-out-of-it diagram inside a circle, and then the circle expands and only change you make to your diagram is to tack a bit of length onto the already existing rays of the sun, that is very much like a model of the expansion of the universe.
What I'm saying, in case you haven't followed my dubious astronomical metaphor for our public transport system, is that, as the circle, (or blob-like shape) (that's the city) expands, and the length of the sun's rays (that's the train lines) is increased, there is increasingly more and more space between those rays (that's the outer suburbs that are miles away from any train lines). So to conclude my scientific hypothesis: just as the galaxies are rushing further and further away from one another at a speed that is increasing exponentially, so the outer suburbs of Melbourne are being pushed further and further away from the train lines, probably also at a speed that is increasing exponentially but has a long way to go before it reaches the speed of light.
As the city expands in all directions, (except into the bay, obviously) there are more and more suburbs popping up in the huge expanses between train lines. And so far, that seems to be how it remains. They have no currently existing train line either.
What is needed is a train system with lines that connect up at interchange points all over Melbourne the way they do in other, more travel-friendly cities. In Melbourne it's still often the case that the only way to get from A to B - for example from where I live, to where I work, is to go via C, which stands for the city. After 30 years, I think it's time that planners expand that radical City-Loop idea into loops all over the city that are not CBD-centric.
So I seem to have got off the track (that was a clever pun) a bit, since I began by talking about the inefficiency of the public transport system in Melbourne but ended up trying to draw a similarity between the expansion of the universe and the lack of public transport infrastructure in the outer suburbs. I don't even live in the outer suburbs and probably won't be travelling to any, any time soon. Certainly not by public transport anyway.
So let's just say, I like the idea of public transport, but in Melbourne it is just not efficient enough to be worth using if you are lucky enough to have another option.