Yay I’m in Melbourne!
I’ve been here for a couple of days now and it’s HEAPS different to Sydney (thank goddess!). Except for the public transport.
Now before I moved here heaps of people told me that I would love Melbourne because it had trams and other awesome public transport things like that.
I thought Sydney was pretty cool cause you walk into a train station and there’s a giant machine with a button for every station on the network. You press your station and your ticket type and it tells you how much and what platform to go to. Or if you’re on a bus, they’re all pretty logically labelled but the drivers are friendly as if you have no idea where you’re going. Piece of piss!
So I get here and get a bus from the airport into town assuming that it would take me reasonably close to the train station. But no… Unless you count four blocks with sixteen tons of construction site and a few road crossings in between. Now that doesn’t sound like too far but when you’re carrying 28 kilos worth of crap on your back and then all your hand luggage as well, it feels like 10 miles. Then once you get there you have to dodge all sorts of temporary fences to find your way up this massive escalator to find the ticket booth.
They have automatic ticket machines but unless you know exactly where you’re going and understand the local ticketing system, they’re useless. And the office with a human in it is pretty hard to find and the staff in there are not at all helpful. Then you have to go all the way back down another escalator to get to the platform and there’s nothing to tell you what train is what. They all have the same thing written on them and there’s no staff around to ask for help. I eventually found a local to ask questions of but while he had good intentions, his advice (if I had’ve taken it) was not helpful, in fact wrong.
So then I finally get on a train and I think ‘yeah, this is cool!!!!’ spunky new train, pretty, quick and clean. And all the stops are all really clean and spunky. And if you sit at the back it looks really cool up the middle cause the carriages are all open and you can see things bending in front of you. But then as I approach North Melbourne station this voice comes over the intercom to tell us that the train stops at that station and we’ll be loaded on to a bus. Bloody hell, do they know how much shit I’m carrying? This is information that would have been useful to know before I got on the train.
So I stagger up this great big long ramp, get on a bus and finally make it to where I’m staying and it’s taking me 2 and a half hours since I got off the plane. Ridiculous! I could’ve just got a cab and it would’ve taken me 20 minutes.
My other (not quite as) traumatic public transport experience was this evening when I was getting a tram into town to go to the treedom fighters public meeting. I got on the tram and asked him if it was going to the street I wanted, he grunted yes. I asked how much it was and got no response. So I sat down. I had no idea how to pay, and there was no one around me to ask. So I didn’t. Quite odd. I like supporting public transport and am happy to contribute my bit for the cost but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how!
Oh well, not tomorrow either, since the bus and fare drivers aren’t checking fares in solidarity with the national day of community action against Howard’s new industrial reform laws. Which are mighty dodgy!
Anyway, I think I might have to get involved in some public transport activism while I’m here. I’m certainly getting a bike as it’s so easy to bike around Melbourne. I haven’t seen any hills yet, a couple of slopes but they weren’t hills. And the 10th birthday of Critical Mass is coming up at the end of this month. Neato!