New Years Eve shambles
Notes from PTUA observers in the city on New Years Eve 2003.
Trains at Flinders Street
1.01am - Platform 4 - The last train to Upfield was a three car (half length) train with people left behind. We wonder why M>Train did not run a six-car train on this line like they (now) do in peak hour.
1.04am - Platform 3 - At least a thousand people waiting for Eastern line services with people being turned back up the top of the escalators due to the platform being full. When the last Glen Waverley left at 1.10am people were left behind.
1.10am - Platforms 6 and 7 were now totally full with queues still coming in on the concourse like platforms 2/3 were immediately prior. 15 people deep for the full length of the platform at least. Police were just arriving to start turning people away from entering the platforms. No trains in sight, people very agitated.
1.12am - Platform 6 - a six car train to Pakenham arrived finally for 1.14am departure. The train already had passengers on board from Spencer Street Station, but filled up immediately (literally) with hundreds and hundreds left behind clearly wanting to board the train. Then people started streaming onto the platform from the other two entrances that weren't blocked off by the police. People on the train were sardined and those by the doors were forcing them closed and holding them so that people on the platform couldn't try and squeeze in. One woman with a family & a stroller said this was the first time she'd done new years eve fireworks in "the city" and this would be the last. Train finally departed about 1.20am.
1.15am - Platform 5 - six car train arrived at 1.15 for a 1.30 departure to Broadmeadows. This was one of the three services that wasn't timetabled but seems to have been arranged at the last minute. We wonder if people gave up thinking the last trains had departed and therefore missed these unscheduled trains.
1.20am - Platform 7 - no less than 1500 people were still waiting for the 1.25am Frankston. A hundred or so left behind on the platform, with more having been turned away by the police at the steps (we have footage of police doing this). People were standing on the connecting platform between carriages trying to escape the crowding in the trains (police telling them to move out).
12.50am at Market/Flinders Street. A smaller Z class tram (about 40 seats) was 5-10 minutes from departing. M>Tram staff were trying to keep people off the tram as it was packed full and people were hoping to ride on the steps (which would have prevented the tram doors from closing and the tram from leaving at all). This was at the first stop in the city - no one at subsequent stops would be able to get on the tram.
Elizabeth Street tram terminus: Similar story. When I first got there about 12:40am there was not a tram to be seen in the terminus, but hundreds of people were waiting. I then spotted several route 19 and 59 services - all were all at crush load after leaving Flinders Street with dozens left behind to wait 20 minutes for the nrest service - and no one at subsequent city stops would be able to get on. The last route 19 and 59 services (according to an M>Tram staff member on duty) were at full crush load leaving Flinders Street leaving more people behind. People dispersed in dismay, however it turned out these services were not actually the last to run. A B clas tram appeared displaying route 59, and it had only a moderately full seated load at Flinders Street, with a full seated load by Collins Street. Misinformation meant the last service was not used to capacity. One passenger complained that they were told trams would run at 1:30am, but was then told the last tram had left before 1:30am.
Many services were run with smaller Z class trams, while there were surely larger B class sitting idle in depots. M>Tram indicated to the PTUA that they would maximise use of longer B and Combino class trams this year, but smaller Z class trams were observed on several routes. We can be sure larger B class trams remained at Essendon depot (in peak hour there about 4 times as many B class trams on the road).
Observed many buses until about 2am, most not completely full. Rudimentary signage was present in Collins Street with just with lists of suburbs the buses pass through. No maps or timetables at the stops, and it seems no one bothered to clear parking from the street so buses were actually blocking the traffic lane. And of course if you don't live near those NightRider routes you would have a hard time getting a taxi for the last leg home.
2:23am: About 50 people in taxi queue at Flinders Street, not an empty taxi in sight. Then a drunk driver skids and slides all over the road and rams his car into the railing outside fed square. Police drag him out of car onto his back, handcuff him and take him and the car away. Could easily have killed a pedestrian. The city full of people, and just 9 bus routes operating in a city of 3 million to get them home by public transport. For many driving must seem the only real option - and I wonder how many people therefore took the risk of drink driving.
What do you think?
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© 2010 Public Transport Users Association Inc. (PTUA), Victoria, Australia. ABN 83 801 487 611.
Published: 2 January 2004. Last modified: 19 November 2004.