Swanston St: Solution is Simple

Mayor Robert Doyle’s ”Damascus” conversion on Swanston Street has led to a good plan. But on design and location of tram stops, it lets the city down badly.

Good planning aims for the shortest walk possible between different forms of public transport. The new tram stops do the opposite. At one of the busiest – the transfer point to Melbourne Central station – most southbound trams will pull up at the Little Lonsdale end of an extra long stop. This guarantees the longest walk possible back to the station. The stop also means a longer walk for bus users who now change at Lonsdale Street – a stop to be abolished under the plan.

Every tram user will be affected: as on Collins Street, trams will halt more despite fewer stops, as trams have to stop at each set of traffic lights, and then at the tram stops.

The solution is simple: shorter platforms at every interchange, and traffic light priority to prevent long tram queues. A brief green light when trams want to cross the intersection is all that is required. This small change would show genuine leadership on transport.

Tim Petersen, Public Transport Users Association, Melbourne

(Published in The Age, 30/1/2010)