96 problems

The route 96 tram between East Brunswick and St Kilda Beach is Melbourne’s busiest. More than 15 million people ride this line annually, so any changes that impact its users will be predictably contentious.

The proposals to change this route into a dedicated light rail for its entire length have been mooted since 2012. This would involve changes to the available parking spaces or drivable lanes, on stretches of the route that are shared with cars. However, opposition has been ever-present and is indeed mounting. Residents and business-owners have campaigned – surprisingly enough in the left-leaning areas of Brunswick East, Carlton North and St Kilda – to maintain the amount of parking available in the stretch north of Brunswick Road/Holden Street (see below), as well as rejection of proposals for a public mall at the St Kilda terminus.

Northern terminus of route 96 – Public Transport Victoria (PTV)

Public Transport Victoria is making an admirable effort in its consultation processes, but obviously cannot address everybody’s concerns. Among the issues being debated with the opposition are congestion, threats to businesses, safety, and the debatable necessity of the project. A common thread throughout these points of contention is the assumption that mode choice will remain the same after the proposed upgrades. Resistance to change often appears inherent in transport issues though: even Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

With rising fuel prices and increasing congestion, who is to say that ridership of the 96 won’t become more popular as locals seek to save money? Indeed, certain businesses abroad have been incredibly successful at encouraging their workforce to drive less and use public transport more. With proposed infrastructure works designed to make the tram a more attractive option, would this be an opportunity for environmentally conscious businesses to take advantage of?

Read here for the full story: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/tram-route-96-freeway-struggles-as-opposition-mounts-20141019-118arp.html

Banner image source: http://www.myweb.net.au/mottram/trams/Melbe/Melbe.htm


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