During 2013 new platform tram stops were constructed along Elizabeth Street in the Melbourne CBD, giving tram passengers on routes 19, 57 and 59 a much safer place to wait than the former ‘safety zones’.
To make room for these new stops, the road on either side has been reduced to a single lane.
These narrow lanes are quite the hazard for clue challenged motorists to negotiate, going by the damage seen at some of the stops.
They also cause difficulties for long vehicles attempting to turn left into from side streets into Elizabeth – I found this bus run into trouble while operating a route 19 tram replacement service, a few weeks after the new stops had opened.
With the tram stop to his left and traffic light posts to his left, the corner was too tight to get a normal bus around, forcing the driver to reverse.
The next bus driver took the corner wider, but still got stuck.
With a third bus driver finally making it around by driving over the tram tracks in Bourke Street.
Eventually the buses avoided the traffic lane altogether, and took to the tram tracks.
Eventually somebody in a position of responsibility realised long vehicles had no chance of making left turns into Elizabeth Street, so ‘No left turn all vehicles over 8.8m long‘ signs were erected on the side streets leading towards the tram stops.
Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have fixed the problem – many long vehicles still try and fail to navigate the sharp turn.
Wondering where the 8.8 metre figure comes from? The Australian Standard for Parking Facilities
AS 2890.1-2004 (Standards Australia 2004) has the following categories of vehicles to consider when designing roads:
- Passenger vehicle (5.2 m)
- Service vehicle (8.8 m)
- Single unit truck/bus (12.5 m)
- Long rigid bus (14.5 m)
- Articulated bus (19 m)
- Prime mover and semi-trailer (19 m)
- Prime mover and long semi-trailer (25 m)
- B-double (25 m)
- B-double (26 m)
- B-triple (35.4 m, was formerly 36.5 m)
- A-double (Type I road train) (36.2 m)
- A-triple (Type II road train) (53.4 m)
Looks like whoever designed the tram stops along Elizabeth Street decided that service vehicles should be able to make the turn, but not buses or semi-trailers.