Friday, July 2, 2010

Transportation and Utilities in Melbourne

What I learn in this lesson from Lord Wiki might be useful to us when we go to Melbourne. We'll walk often, but there are times we'll need to use planes, trains, and automobiles....oh, and buses and trams as well.

Melbourne has the largest tram network in the whole wide world. But it might not have the largest in the universe. Maybe one day we'll find out.

People started building up the train and tram system during the gold rush. Then the automobile was invented, so that all died down a bit. People and their cars moved out to the suburbs, and the use of public transportation diminished.

In the 1940's, 25% of people used public transportation. By 2003, it went down to 7.6%. Sometimes Lord Wiki gets his facts confused. I HOPE this is one of those times.

Here's the article he says he got his fact from. I do NOT see that statistic. So maybe he is WRONG. Or I'm misreading. Lord Wiki is known for making mistakes, but when it comes down to it—I'm probably more likely to be the one to make one.

I would think, in a city like Melbourne, more people would utilize public transportation. The good news is the usage rate is rising. By 2020, they hope it's up to 20%.

I think with public transportation, it's a two-way street (ah! A pun). You can't just expect people to stop driving and use their public transportation instead. The government (or whoever) has to make sure that using public transportation doesn't overly inconvenience people. Otherwise, they'll take their car. If you have to walk two kilometers to the train station, wait twenty minutes for a train, transfer to another train, and then walk another kilometer, it's really tempting to just hop into your car. This is especially true if transportation tickets aren't much cheaper than gas.

So the government has to provide more buses and stops and more train stations and train lines. Then in turn, people have to agree to do a LITTLE more walking, and a little waiting.

Tim has just started to utilize public transportation. He's working in Dallas now which is about an hour away from us. For the first week, he drove his car. That was kind of a pain, having to drive two hours every day. Then he decided to use the train. He takes two trains to work, which I think is a bit annoying. But he's okay with that. Tim tolerates transfers much more than I do.

He also has a long walk from the station to his office. The other guys working there pick him up. Later he plans to ride his bike. It sounds a bit tedious to me. But I give Tim major kudos for doing that. It's a nice reduction of his carbon footprint. I think it will save us a little money. And I think it has benefits. He can do more while riding, in the train than he can do while driving. For example, he can sleep! This makes me feel better. It worries me having him drive that much everyday—especially if he's tired. So I much prefer him being on the train.

What's even better then the whole train thing is the fact that Tim's new job is VERY flexible. They're not insisting he come into work everyday. He's going to work mostly from home, or/or go to various meetings around town.

I think companies could greatly reduce carbon emissions by not insisting people show up in person. It would be great if companies more often utilized email and video conferencing.

Let me get back to Melbourne.

So they have a lot of trams. Some of them sound very cool. A tram restaurant? And it actually moves. We have to go! They don't seem to have a lot of vegetarian food, though. Although they do say you can call ahead with dietary requirements. I'm not sure if they'd include vegetarianism in that.

Now that I think of might not be the best choice for Jack. The meals are kind of long. I doubt he could keep seated that long. I don't know if I could do it either.

We'll probably skip it. But I DO like the idea in theory.

What's even better than eating overpriced food on a tram is a FREE tram. The City Circle takes tourists around the CBD. That's really neat.

Okay, now I'm starting to love Melbourne a little bit. Actually, the love began when Lord Wiki started giving me his Melbourne lessons.

Now for trains....

The busiest station is Flinders Street Station. It's a fancy impressive building. It reminds me of Grand Central Station in NYC.

I'm looking at the metlink fare stuff. It's really confusing. I guess we'll get a week pass, but then we need to find out what zones we need. Well, Zone 1 takes care of the CBD and inner suburbs. That's probably all we'll need. I don't think we're going to go too far out. Or maybe we will. I don't know.

The Metlink website says that children over nine years of age can travel alone on the train. I'm always wondering what kind of independence is allowed these days. At what age can I leave Jack alone without getting in trouble? Jack will be ten when we go to Australia. We can put him on the train alone! Will we do it? That's HIGHLY doubtful. But I like knowing that we could if we wanted to.

I left Jack in the house for about thirty minutes today and went to our pool in the backyard. Is that legal? Okay? I don't know. I had a LOT of freedom when I was a child, and my parents didn't get in trouble. But times have changed.

Melbourne has buses. These fill in the gaps of the train and trams. I like buses less than trains. They confuse me. It's hard to find the bus stops, and then it's hard to know when to get off. We've gotten lost using buses in Sydney.

Here is the most awesome thing about Melbourne buses, though. My super special friend (who was temporarily a Kiwi) worked for a company that provided buses to Melbourne. The company's name was DesignLine—if you want to look it up. My friend says they provide hybrid buses. That's good.

Lord Wiki says that people in the outer suburbs are more likely to use cars than people in the city. That makes sense. I guess one day, it's ALL going to be city. The population is growing so fast. I think most places are going to be densely populated.

 Maybe not the outback.

There is water transportation in Melbourne. It doesn't look like they have much of a ferry system. They have Station Pier, but that's used mostly for Cruise Ships, and the Spirit of Tasmania. Well, I guess that's a ferry. But it's not like the Sydney ferries. The Spirit of Tasmania is more expensive, and takes you a fairly long distance.

My parents went to Melbourne on their cruise. So I'm sure they've been to this Station Pier.

Melbourne has five airports. It looks like the one we'll most likely use is Melbourne Airport which is about thirty minutes north of the CBD.

Okay, now onto utilities.....

Water storage and supply is handled by the government...a group called Melbourne Water. Gas and electricity are done by private companies. I'm going to cut this short because Tim just got home. We're going to go to the movie!!!!

P.S-We never saw the movie. It was sold-out. Instead we went out for dessert.