Sunday, September 26, 2010

Using public transport to turn a 40 minute drive into a 3 hour trip

Today I decided to catch the free 901 Smartbus and head off to Hawthorn. Yes I knew it would go to Blackburn station which wasted a bit of time, but that's OK, it was to be an adventure.

I arrived at the bus stop in Williamsons Road and checked the Metlink iPhone app for the 901. First problem was there was no 901 Smartbus listed in the nearby function. You'd think they'd have updated their application. Perhaps it was my fault as I hadn't sync'ed the app. But a check now shows no updates available. Pretty poor really.

I decided to grab the first bus which was a 902 Smartbus. The problem isn't the bus trips as the actual trip is OK. It is the waiting between trips. A 15 minutes wait at Doncaster for the next bus to Box Hill. A 20 minute wait at Box Hill for the next train. The tram at Hawthorn was only going to be three minutes but I decided to walk the short distance to the destination. The tram came and beat me by one stop. I had no way of knowing if it would be on time. I dropped off the item I set out to drop off and caught the next tram back which was running two minutes late. Lucky for me or I'd have missed it.

I didn't mind which way I went back home and this tram went to the end of the line in North Balwyn. No problems I thought. The end of the line will always have a connection up to Doncaster Shoppingtown at regular intervals.

How wrong was I. The only bus on a Sunday was the Route 207. I was lucky as I had to wait 20 minutes to the 5:08pm. Had I arrived earlier and just missed the previous bus at 3:38pm I'd have had to wait up to an hour and a half. But check out the bus timetable. To have a tram terminate and have just 8 connecting buses for a day is an outlandish service.

A drive on a Sunday from Templestowe to Hawthorn and back would have taken about 40 minutes. Using public transport it took me a little over 3 hours.

It is no wonder we need our cars. I pity the people in North Balwyn.

I enjoy exploring the buses and personally think all politicians should be forced to use public transport. If they did we'd have the best public transport system in the world. Just try telling the Prime Minister you were late because your train was cancelled and see how far that gets you.

Kelvin Eldridge

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