MIA – rubbish bins at Melbourne’s stations

Back in September 2014 Public Transport Victoria removed rubbish bins from Melbourne’s railway stations due to the “increased terror alert level”. So where has all of the rubbish ended up?

Rubbish bins also removed from Flagstaff station

Most of the time it just ends up on the platform, with lazy slobs leaving their rubbish wherever it falls.

Rubbish litters the platforms now that the bins have been taken away

As a result, cleaners have to do the rounds more often to clean up after litterbugs.

Cleaner does the rounds of Melbourne Central looking for litter, since rubbish bins are no longer provided

With the bins all removed, extra staff have to clean up after the filthy pigs that catch Melbourne's trains

Extra cleaners on patrol at Flinders Street Station following the removal of every rubbish bin

At least some people try to take their rubbish with them – resulting in rubbish bins outside railway stations overflowing with coffee cups before 9am.

Rubbish bin overflowing with coffee cups outside Flagstaff station

As for the redundant rubbish bins, they were locked up in a cage outside Flinders Street Station for a number of months before they disappeared – sent away to Guantanamo Bay?

Now redundant rubbish bins stored in the 'Milk Dock' at Flinders Street

Footnote

I reckon you can group people into three categories:

  • Filthy slobs who throw crap on the ground even if there is a rubbish bin right next to them,
  • The pragmatic, who put their rubbish in the bin assuming they can find one,
  • And finally the idealistic, who when presented with a lack of bins, take their rubbish home with them

My desk at work currently has a pile of used tea bags and banana skins to take home for the compost bin, so you can guess into which group I fall!

Southern Cross – the non-integrated interchange

As the hub of the V/Line network, Southern Cross Station is supposed to be an important interchange between suburban and regional trains. However Metro Trains Melbourne and V/Line don’t like to make it easy for passengers, as these recent changes on the Bourke Street Bridge show.

Bourke Street bridge rather empty

Historically platforms 9 through 14 have been dedicated to suburban passengers, with the exception of a handful of Geelong and Gippsland line services, so the suburban rail operator managed the ticket gates.

Bank of eight plus seven Myki gates at the western Bourke Street entrance at Southern Cross

Meanwhile platforms 1 through 8 are used by country trains where conductors check tickets, so access was a free for all. The ticket gates at the Bourke Street end are only a recent addition following the rollout of myki to V/Line services.

Work still pending on the new V/Line paid area fences on the Bourke Street bridge

In the days when V/Line didn’t have ticket gates, there was a glass wall between platforms 8 and 9 to prevent fare evaders from sneaking onto suburban trains.

Glass barrier between the suburban and country paid areas still in place at Southern Cross Station

With the addition of ticket gates to the V/Line side, one might assume that the wall could be removed, allowing V/Line passengers to change onto suburban services without having to touch off then on again, and vice versa. However the reality is very different.

Looking across from the V/Line paid area to the suburban paid area at the Bourke Street end

Yes – the glass wall was removed, only to be replaced by a massive set of steel gates.

Steel gates block access between the V/Line paid area and the suburban paid area at the Bourke Street end

Presumably Metro doesn’t trust V/Line to keep out fare evaders, and V/Line doesn’t trust Metro – any passengers wanting to change platforms has to exit the station, then come back in through the other set of gates.

Metro doesn't trust V/Line, and V/Line doesn't trust Metro - the two paid areas at the Bourke Street end of Southern Cross are separate

Footnote

The gate between platforms 8 and 9 looks even more ridiculous when you take into consideration the V/Line services to Geelong and Gippsland – they use platforms 15 and 16 on a full time basis, both of which live within the suburban ticket gates!

How long until we see a gate between platforms 14 and 15?

Mid-December update

Down in the comment section Kevin let me know that the gates between platforms 8 and 9 are now open – I went past later that day and got a photo. Sanity prevails!

Gates between the V/Line and Metro platforms at the Bourke Street end of Southern Cross are now open

Melbourne Central’s missing myki machine

At the tram stop outside Melbourne Central Station, there is a black and yellow striped plywood box sitting where the myki machine used to be.

'Bumblebee' box marks where a Myki machine used to be at the tram stop outside Melbourne Central Station

Note that the above photo was from October 2013 – fast forward to a year later and the yellow stripes have faded, hidden beneath a plethora of stickers and tags.

Myki machine at the Melbourne Central tram stop is still missing in action, a year since it was vandalised

As to why the machine was removed – PTV blamed vandalism, at least while this notice was still visible.

Notice that the vandalised Myki machine outside Melbourne Central Station has been removed

Seriously – over a year and PTV still haven’t found a replacement ticket machine for one of the busiest tram stops in the city?

Footnote

The myki machine at Tecoma went MIA for an extended period back in 2012 – good luck finding an alternate retail outlet that far out of town!

Regional Rail Link to skip Sunshine station?

As part of the Regional Rail Link project, platforms were built on the new tracks at just two stations: Footscray and Sunshine. With an inconvenient interchange at Footscray and no platforms at North Melbourne, Sunshine is the stand out station for passenger convenience.

VLocity VL16 passes through Sunshine on the up

Citybound V/Line services stop at platform 3, where it is just a short walk up the stairs to the overhead concourse, then back down to platform 1 for a City Loop services – with no need to exit the paid area.

Alstom Comeng arrives into Sunshine with an up Sunbury service

However the number of V/Line passengers able to use Sunshine station is small, due to the limited number of services that stop there.

The vast majority of Ballarat line services stop there to drop off inbound passengers who want to change for a suburban train at Sunshine, and pick up outbound passengers for the country.

V/Line Ballarat line timetable - October 2014

However the current Bendigo line timetable doesn’t have any stops at Sunshine – V/Line passengers need to change trains at either Footscray or Sunbury.

V/Line Bendigo line timetable - October 2014

For the purposes of comparison, the current Geelong line timetable has three stops in the suburban area – Footscray, Newport and Werribee.

V/Line Geelong line timetable - October 2014

So should all V/Line non-express services stop at Sunshine? From an interchange perspective, I say the answer should be yes – as the meeting point of all three V/Line routes that use Regional Rail Link, changing trains at Sunshine will save passengers at least 15 minutes compared to changing at Footscray, and even more time compared to changing at Southern Cross. In addition, Sunshine is also a major station on the suburban services towards Sunbury, saving country passengers the ~15 minute trip into Footscray, just to catch the train back out from the city.

Finally, Sunshine has been designated as one of nine ‘Metropolitan Activity Centres’ in the Plan Melbourne metropolitan planning strategy released in May 2014 – the same designation as Footscray.

Plan Melbourne: Metropolitan Activity Centres fact sheet, May 2014

Sunshine was also designated as one of 25 ‘Principal Activity Centres’ in the now-defunct Melbourne 2030 planning strategy released in October 2002.

With Geelong trains due to start using the new Regional Rail Link tracks via the back of Werribee from mid-2015, it would seem like a sick joke if passengers boarding V/Line services from the new stations of Tarneit and Wyndham Vale have to travel all the way into Footscray just to catch a suburban train back out to Sunshine!

Refreshing Melbourne’s ‘Bumblebee’ trams

Back in 2008 Melbourne’s tram network was overflowing with passengers, so Yarra Trams turned to a different tactic to address it – they imported five secondhand trams from France to expand their fleet.

C2.5103 'Bumblebee 3' on route 96 westbound on Bourke Street at Swanston

Known as the ‘C2′ class trams in Melbourne, these five-section Alstom Citadis 302 trams were originally built for the French city of Mulhouse, but were surplus to their requirements. Yarra Trams originally leased the trams for four years at a cost of $9 million, until were purchased by the State Government in 2012.

In the years since, the harsh Australian sun started to fare the special ‘Bumblebee’ livery.

Faded 'Bumblebee 2' stickers on C2.5113 (originally named 'Ungersheim' at home in Mulhouse)

Vandals scratched the windows to within a inch of their lives, making the glass look more frosted than clear.

'Bumblebee 2' stickers removed from one end of C2.5113

The decals on the site also became tattered following repeated graffiti attacks.

Tattered remains of 'Bumblebee 4' decals on the side of tram C2.5106

Five years old and falling apart - faded 'Bumblebee' decals on a C2 class tram

Finally in July 2014, something was done about the decrepit look of the ‘Bumblebee’ trams when Public Transport Victoria started to roll out their livery to the fleet of five.

C2.5113 heads east on route 96 at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Street

In a nice touch, the ‘Bumblebee’ name has been retained at each end.

'Bumblebee 1' decal on PTV-liveried tram C2.5123

When repainting things Public Transport Victoria walks a fine line between polishing turds and keeping things fit for purpose – at least this time the work wasn’t an attempt to distract the public.