I am a regular public transport user. I also work and study with a lot of public transport users, and we love to gripe about how unreliable Melbourne's public transport system is. And by a lot of standards, for example, by Japan's standards, it's unreliable and infrequent. And when a heatwave cases public transport to grind to a halt, or when I experience 3 weeks of replacement buses in the evenings adding 20 minutes to my trip home after work, I love to have a good whinge.
But the truth is, I love Melbourne's public transport. It's not an unconditional love, and I firmly believe that it should undergo significant improvement, but I love it all the same.
Australians, on the whole, have a very negative relationship, with public transport, so I though I'd share some of the things I love about it, in a mini public awareness campaign to (microscopically) shift public perception:
- When I'm on the train, I can read, do my study, talk on the phone (yes, I'm one of those people), or read blog feeds. When I'm driving, I have to pay attention to the road, and am responsible for the safety of not only myself, but others too.
- Trains are much, much safer. It looks like since 1976, there has been precisely one Melbourne train passenger killed in a train accident, in 2012. The 1976 incident also only had one fatality (source). Car accidents are much more common. Furthermore, accidents involving trains are almost inevitably caused by drivers of cars, and not by drivers of trains (removing level crossings would remove this risk, are you listening state and federal governments?).
- While it's true that the trains are often overcrowded, at those times, so are the roads. I'd much rather be standing on a train than inching along through stop-start traffic, not to mention that the train is often faster at that time of day too.
- You don't have to spend lots of time driving around after you've supposedly reached your destination to find a park.
- You don't have to pay exorbitant inner city prices for parking.
- It's good for the environment. Climate change is real, and switching to public transport is, (after going vegan) one of the best things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment.
- I can easily take my bike on the train, even when it's busy. Ok, so this is more about my super awesome folding bike than about the trains, but I love combining bikes and trains to avoid walking/buses.
- Trams are cool, in an old-fashioned but still relevant kind of way. I'm afraid that's all I can say about trams and buses, I much prefer trains.