Between a tram stop and a hard place

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’.

Z3.159 on route 57 stops at Elizabeth and Bourke Streets

To make room for these new stops, the road on either side has been reduced to a single lane.

Elizabeth Street entrance to Melbourne Central Station: a big fence prevents passengers from use the most convenient route to the tram stop

These narrow lanes are quite the hazard for clue challenged motorists to negotiate, going by the damage seen at some of the stops.

Presumably some idiot driver drove into this tram stop

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.

Bus on a route 19 replacement service gets stuck turning from Bourke into Elizabeth Street

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.

With poles either side of Elizabeth Street blocking his route, the driver needs to reverse

The next bus driver took the corner wider, but still got stuck.

Route 19 replacement buses negotiate the turn from Bourke into Elizabeth Street

With a third bus driver finally making it around by driving over the tram tracks in Bourke Street.

Looks like another bus has gotten stuck at the corner of Bourke into Elizabeth Street

Eventually the buses avoided the traffic lane altogether, and took to the tram tracks.

Having reversed out of the tight corner, a route 19 replacement bus turns to the wider tram lanes

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.

'No left turn all vehicles over 8.8m long' sign at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have fixed the problem – many long vehicles still try and fail to navigate the sharp turn.

Road coach reverses back out of Elizabeth Street, having been unable to make the turn from La Trobe Street due to the tram stop


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.

Further reading

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