Oddball bus stop names of Victoria

The predecessor of Public Transport Victoria was Metlink, and one of their main achievements was getting every single train, tram and bus stop in Victoria in one big database, and making the timetable information for each one available to the public via a single website. So what oddball stop names lurk in that database?

Bus signage at Newhaven, Phillip Island - purple for the V/Line coach to Dandenong, and orange for the local bus to Wonthaggi

You can catch the bus to places of natural beauty.

National Park Entrance/National Park Rd (Loch Sport)
Eastern Sister Lookout/Point Nepean Rd (Sorrento)

Or beyond the black stump.

Black Stump General Store/Princes Hwy (Johnsonville)

Toilet humour is always good for a laugh – and gives me three funny bus stop names.

Tooleybuc Toilets/Murray St (Tooleybuc (NSW))
Public toilets/Timboon – Nullawarre Rd (Timboon)
Car Park Rear Toilet Block/Lloyd St (Dimboola)

When you flush, it might end up here:

South East Water Oxygen Plant/Baxter-Tooradin Rd (Baxter)

But to clean up, you could leave the bus at any of these stops:

Laundry Block/Barwon Heads – Ocean Grove Rd (Ocean Grove)
Ironing Service/Deakin Ave (Mildura)
D And K Cleaning/School Rd (Springhurst)
Wizard Car Wash/Princes Hwy (Narre Warren)

Since you are on the bus, you don’t need to park a car.

Council Car Park/Beveridge St (Swan Hill)
Beachside Car Park/Nepean Hwy (Frankston)

Freeway on and off ramps aren’t something you are looking out for:

Eastern Freeway On Ramp/Wetherby Rd (Doncaster East)
Off-ramp/Princes Fwy (Darnum)

Or repairing roads.

VicRoads Depot/Ballarat Rd (Deer Park)
Nillumbik Shire Depot/290 Yan Yean Rd (Plenty)

You don’t need to buy petrol either.

Service Station/Breadalbane Ave (Mernda)

None the less, you still have your choice of fuel retailer.

Caltex Service Station/Calvert St (Bairnsdale)
BP Service Station/Sunraysia Hwy (Speed)
Shell Service Station/Princes Hwy (Narre Warren)
Mobil Service Station/Fifteenth St (Mildura)
United Service Station/Princes Hwy (Cobargo (NSW))
Apco Petrol Station/Gisborne Rd (Bacchus Marsh)

Maybe you are looking to build a car from scratch?

Toyota Australia/Grieve Pde (Altona North)
Holden Engine Works/Lorimer St (Port Melbourne)
Ford Engine and Chassis Plant/Princes Hwy (North Geelong)

Or something more high tech?

Centre for Nanofabrication/Wellington Rd (Clayton)

Perhaps you are peckish?

Kraft Factory/Salmon St (Port Melbourne)

You could pick up the raw ingredients for dinner.

Geelong Sale Yards/Weddell Rd (North Geelong)
Grain Silo/Wimmera Hwy (Marnoo)

Cargo to send by rail?

Pacific National Terminal/Dynon Rd (West Melbourne)

And finally, the really weird.

Bridal Advisory Service/Jamieson St (East Albury (NSW))

Some bad names

There are a few bus stop names with ‘opposite’ in the title, and refer to a local landmark – for example:

Opp Ballarat Health Service/Edwards St (Sebastopol)

Bus some are just lazy – streets have numbers down both sides!

opp 399 Centre Rd (Narre Warren South)
Opp 28 Ash Cres (Pakenham)
Opp 184 Old Geelong Rd (Hoppers Crossing)
Opp 85 Melville Park Dr (Berwick)

Footnote

For a number of years at both Metlink and Public Transport Victoria, the usage of the ‘SC’ abbreviation in bus stop names was inconsistent: sometimes it meant ‘Shopping Centre’ and other times ‘Secondary College’, which led to confusion for any passenger in a suburb where the local shops had the same name as the school!

Thankfully some of the staff at PTV didn’t think confusing passengers was a good idea, so put in place a new standard for names – ‘SC’ for ‘Shopping Centre’ and ‘Sec Col’ for ‘Secondary College’.

Do you know the way to Moonee Vale?

Each morning on William Street in the CBD, there are a handful of route 55 trams that display a destination of ‘Moonee Vale’. There are a number of Melbourne suburbs with similar sounding names, along with a racecourse and local government area called ‘Moonee Valley’ – but is Moonee Vale a real place, or just a typo?

Z3.122 on a route 55a shortworking to 'Moonee Vale'

The suburbs of Moonee Ponds and Ascot Vale are located next door to each other, but are located on the route 59 tram so an amalgam of those two place names can be set aside. The same applies for Moonee Valley, so a truncated name can’t explain it either. Pascoe Vale is a suburb closer to the route 55 tram, but is too far north to be served by it.

My next port of call was the Victorian Register of Geographic Names – it contains more than 200,000 place names including cities, towns, suburbs, regions, roads, landscape features, recreational reserves, transport stations, schools, hospitals, national parks, forests, reserves and tracks!

Unfortunately it came up blank.

’Moonee Vale’ not found in the Victorian Register of Geographic Names

Going back to the destination board of the tram, there is a further clue: “Daly & Dawson Streets”.

That intersection is located in Brunswick West, with Daly Street being a residential street that parallels the much better known Melville Road.

Z3.200 on route 55 heads outbound along Melville Road with the CBD skyline behind

As for the Moonee Vale name, a check of the locality listing at the back of the Melways brings it up – Map 29 B8, see Brunswick West.

’Moonee Vale’ in the Melway locality listing

It also gets namechecked in The Age as an example of ‘secret suburbs’ in Melbourne.

If you’re coming from Tally Ho you travel west – likewise from Bennettswood – and go via Willison, vaguely in the Macaulay or Batmans Hill direction. Pass through Rushall then Sumner and Anstey.

Westbreen is too far. Look just north of Moonee Vale and you’re there: Coonans Hill.

Directions from Burwood to Pascoe Vale South via Fitzroy have never sounded so confusing. But touring via Melbourne’s secret suburbs gives the route a quaint, village feel. Little-known place names have gained favour in recent years, according to those who make it their business to know where Westgarth is.

Beyond that, I had to start digging through the Trove archives from the National Library of Australia.

In 1907 The Argus writes of a new ‘Moonee Vale Settlement’ in Brunswick West.

Moonee Vale settlement. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Monday 19 August 1907, page 6

In 1910 development must not have taken off as the developers wanted, as The Argus reported that Brunswick Council had removed 70 kerosene lanterns from the streets in a cost cutting exercise.

Railway to Moonee Vale village settlement. Brunswick and Coburg Leader (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), Friday 10 July 1914, page 1

And finally in 1914, the Brunswick and Coburg Leader led local agitation for the construction of a railway to Moonee Vale, via Royal Park.

Moonee Vale in darkness. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Tuesday 25 January 1910, page 6

Construction of a railway never happened, but what is now the route 55 tramway was progressively opened between 1925 and 1927 to the current terminus at Bell Street, West Coburg.

These days the only organisation beside Yarra Trams still using the ‘Moonee Vale’ name is a licensed post office on the corner of Albion Street and Melville Road.

’Moonee Vale’ Licensed Post Office details

Public transport should be clear and concise wherever possibly, and not rely on layers of historical anachronism – for this reason I reckon Yarra Trams should get with the times and drop the misleading name of ‘Moonee Vale’, and use the accepted name for where their route 55 shortworkings terminate – ‘Brunswick West’.

Footnote

A check of the public timetable reveals there are two route 55 trams that terminate at Daly and Dawson Streets each weekday – both at the tail end of morning peak.

Route 55 tram timetable, featuring ’Moonee Vale’ shortworkings

Timetables at tram stops also have a note drawing attention to these short terminating services.

Daly Street / Dawson Street shortworking notice at the bottom of a route 55 timetable

When I paid a visit to Daly Street when the terminating services are due, I found the tram driver stopped in the middle of the road, dodging traffic to change the tracks that allow trams to cross between the tracks.

Driver of B2.2072 throws the points at the Daly Street crossover

Traffic in both directions then comes to a halt, as the tram trundles over the crossover and onto the citybound track.

B2.2072 heads back to the city on route 55 after shunting at the Daly Street crossover

The logic behind these two shortworking services is that it provides much needed capacity on route 55 for passengers boarding closer to the city, as the trams in question can race back into the CBD on the tail end of morning peak. If the trams continued all the way to the end of the line, by the time they made it back to the inner suburbs, the passengers would have already crammed onboard other trams.

Z3.175 picks up route 55 passengers at Brunswick Road and Grantham Street in Brunswick West

With tram patronage increasing at a rate faster than new trams are being acquired, there isn’t much else Yarra Trams can do.

Finding the Maldon – Dombarton bridge to nowhere

South of Sydney there is a bridge to nowhere, built in the 1980s as part of the never-completed Maldon – Dombarton railway line. Intended to cross the Nepean River near the township of Maldon, only the approach spans on each side of the gorge were built before the project was cancelled, where they remain today. So how did I go about seeing the bridge for myself?

Bridge to nowhere

I started my hike from Picton Road, where I parked the car and loaded up my backpack with water and snacks, before wandering off into the dense bush.

Walking through the bush from Picton Road to find the bridge

After walking down into a gully then back out again, I found myself in a clearing.

After walking through the bush, I'm out in a clearing

There wasn’t any sign of the bridge at this point.

Walking around the open plains towards the bridge

But I kept on wandering around.

Walking around the open plains towards the bridge

And I eventually found a metal stanchion on the unfinished bridge sticking up above the tree line.

Stanchion on the unfinished bridge sticks up above the trees

With my target in sight and the sun starting to go down, it was time to head back into the bush.

Back into the bush again to find the bridge

Eventually I came out into another clearing, but this time the metal stanchions were larger – I was on the right track.

Stanchion on the unfinished bridge sticks up above the trees

I kept walking in the same direction, and finally – I found the bridge!

Finally - I found the bridge!

The 30 year old concrete still looks to be in good condition.

30 year old concrete still in good nick

I headed up onto the bridge, and walked towards the dead end.

Looking towards the dead end

Fences prevented me from walking off the end.

End of the line on the southern approach

Looking west from the bridge was another bridge – carrying Picton Road across the Nepean River.

Looking west towards Picton Road from the southern end of the bridge

And to the east was the advancing shadows of a setting sun.

Looking east from the southern end of the bridge

With the moon now visible, it was time to head out of the bush before darkness fell, and find my car again.

The moon comes out under the bridge

Footnote

Here is the GPS tracklog on my adventure to find the unfinished bridge – it took me 30 minutes to walk the ~1.5 kilometres between my car and the bridge, using a Google Maps printout and the setting sun as a guide, and with a lot of wandering around in order to pinpoint which direction I was supposed to be walking in.

GPS tracklog on my adventure to find the unfinished Maldon - Dombarton railway line bridge

Also of note is how closely my return journey matched my inward hike – my sense of direction must have been working well that day!

A check of Google Maps shows a supposed unnamed road that I didn’t use – leading from Picton Road to the bridge, it looks to be a dirt track that passes through a nearby skydiving centre, then follows the unfinished alignment of the railway.

Further reading

Wikipedia has more on the history of the Maldon – Dombarton railway line.

Buses and trams sharing Melbourne’s roads

Melbourne’s bus and tram networks have one thing in common – they get delayed by single occupant cars. Dedicated lanes are one way to keep public transport moving, but what happens when there is not enough road space for both?

Pointless bus lane southbound on Queensbridge Street: it forces road traffic onto the tram tracks!

An interesting setup can be found on Queensbridge Street in Southbank – trams and buses share the concrete covered tracks that run along the centre of the road, away from pesky cars.

National Bus #536 5832AO heads northbound along Queensbridge Street with a route 253 service

In addition buses and trams share a stop outside Crown Casino, allowing intending passengers to flag down whatever vehicle is next to arrive.

Transdev bus uses the combined tram and bus lane along Queensbridge Street

A similar intermodal transfer facility can be found at the Clifton Hill interchange, where route 86 trams share the centre of Queens Parade with a number of different bus routes.

B2.2046 passes the bus stops at the Clifton Hill interchange

It raises the question – why doesn’t this appear more often in Melbourne?

In 2003 Andrew Somers published a paper titled Improving Utilisation of Existing Public Transport Infrastructure by Allowing Bus Access to Tram Rights-of-way, which looked into the infrastructure issues faced. Some relevant points include:

Track Bed

Tram tracks in Melbourne can be broken into three categories – part of the road pavement, separate ROW with tracks laid in mass concrete, separate ROW with tracks mounted on sleepers on ballast. The first two of these categories can support bus operations, ballasted track requires relaying in mass concrete at significant cost.

Overhead Power Poles

Experience on Burwood Highway has shown that unprotected central poles
pose a hazard for buses. This setup is found on much of the reserved track in Melbourne. The issue is one of horizontal clearances – although the trams are slightly wider (around 150mm) than buses, they have the advantage of a fixed guidance system.

The collision risk is anticipated to be lower at lower speeds and on straight sections of track; curved track at higher speeds would therefore require further increased clearances. Additional space may be able to be provided by widening the pavement to the left, avoiding the need to relocate poles

Stop Design

Two issues emerge with the design of existing tram stops – horizontal clearances and the platform height at the new Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant superstops. Experience from bus operators indicates that
the high level of the platforms (around 300mm compared to standard 150mm kerb) causes problems as the buses are designed to load wheelchairs from standard height kerb (through kneeling).

Horizontal clearances also pose a potential problem for buses using existing tram stops. Although buses are marginally narrower than the trams in use in Melbourne, manual guidance by drivers is not as precise as track guidance for trams.

Maintenance Agreements

Introducing buses to existing light rail infrastructure changes the maintenance requirements for that infrastructure. The institutional framework and particularly the system of payments to public transport operators in Melbourne complicates this, by emphasising the importance of determining who is responsible for cost of maintenance or repairs, both scheduled and emergency.

Entry/Egress to/from ROW

Buses using tram lanes need to be able to enter and exit the area safely and without significant delay. In addition, it is important that the entry
point reinforces that only authorised vehicles may use the tram ROW.

Delineation

A recurrent issue in the stakeholder interviews was a feeling that car drivers view buses as a part of mixed traffic – this makes delineation of tram lanes critical for any application of joint operations. Cars mistakenly or deliberately following buses into tram lanes will lead to delays to public transport and an increased risk of collisions.

The paper also mentions the current operating rules relating to the shared tram-bus lane on Queensbridge Street.

  • Buses are not to exceed 30km/h
  • Trams have priority over buses
  • Buses must not exceed 8km/h through safety zones (stop areas)
  • Buses may use the signal phase provided by the T light (also provided for in the road rules)

There are also rules which detail safe following distances, interestingly the bus operator did not have these to hand, indicating perhaps that this operating regime was necessary to have joint operations approved and is not so important in day to day operations.

The paper acknowledges that Melbourne’s buses are treated as third-class citizens.

Generally in Melbourne, trams get a higher level of special treatment over mixed traffic than that which is offered to buses. This situation is reflected in the attitudes of the operators – the tram operators have previously gained benefits that they wish to guard (and build improvements upon) whereas the buses are looking to gain any improvements, off a generally low base

And finally addresses what might be the biggest barrier to mixing trams and buses – the institutional framework that governs public transport:

Traditionally the attitude of those involved in public transport in Melbourne has been to view the modes as separate, with buses and trams being potential competitors. This is being partly addressed through attention being focussed on integrated transport solutions, however the contractual framework and institutional structures act as a brake on this attitude change.

Shiny new stickers will never fix that problem!

The 'PTV' sticker only covered the top half of the green section, the old logos are still showing

Missed opportunities

Andrew Somers also lists a number of missed tram-bus opportunities in his paper:

A recent example of a failure to take account of buses in tram infrastructure design is the Exhibition Street extension. The Department of Infrastructure noted that during the construction phase, the rerouting of Bus 605 down the tram right of way was investigated and found unfeasible due to incompatible infrastructure.

Proposals for joint operations as part of both the Box Hill and Vermont South tram extensions were floated but not pursued.

Further reading

“You can get it fixing the trains”

Hat tip to @rpy on Twitter for finding a V/Line locomotive in an old Victoria Bitter commercial. You can find the full version on YouTube.

The featured locomotive is V/Line’s P18 – it entered service in February 1985 and is still in service today, hauling passengers between Southern Cross and Bacchus Marsh.

P18 at South Geelong

I then did a little more digging, and came across this 1973 VB commercial that also features the “you can get it fixing the trains” line – but this time with a steam locomotives.

1973 Victoria Bitter television commercial featuring steam locomotive R761

This time R761 was the star, but by the time that the commercial was screened, steam on the Victoria Railways was dead – the first diesels had entered service in the 1950s and had slowly taken over the rails, with the last regular steam locomotive hauled train running in April 1972. Luckily for railfans, R761 still exists today, having been restored by volunteers and used on special trains across Victoria.

R761 climbs upgrade towards Bank Box

Beer related footnote

Heritage specials are now the only place you can legally buy a beer on a Victorian train – V/Line stopped selling alcohol on their trains in December 2008.

(I’m not counting the Melbourne-Sydney XPT, as they only have light beer)