As many of Melbourne’s regulars would know, all of the tram stops on Elizabeth Street have been “upgraded” to fully accessible platform stops, except the terminus. Leaving aside the issue of the platforms being so long and fenced for the full length that they impede pedestrians’ movability, and so wide that they endanger the lives of cyclists, many of the new platform stops have done away with the convention that trams stop before a major intersection, at a red light, to allow passengers to alight and board before continuing.

For many of the new platform stops, trams now stop after, not before, major intersections, but if Yarra Tram’s drivers miss their chance at the terminus, they will find themselves stopped at a red light before a major intersection, wasting time while passengers in the tram and just a few metres ahead on the platform must wait before they can alight and board safely. But there is a way, “a better way”, and it can be taken advantage of right now.

A warning, what I am about to tell you, great tram driver, is not for the faint hearted. If there is but one delay, but one self-absorbed passenger, car driver or street sweeper, you will not succeed. You will be left behind.

Your great journey begins at the terminus at Flinders Street. Do not worry about departing slightly late, instead give most of your attention to the traffic lights at Flinders Lane. Your one and only chance depends on this. Once the lights change, giving Flinders Lane the right of way, slowly move your tram out of the terminus and wait for the green.

The lights change and you are off. You may have noticed that Collins Street gave you the right of way before Flinders Lane, but not to worry, just stick to the 40 kilometre per hour speed limit and you will cruise through arriving at the first platform stop — Collins Street at Little Collins Street.

If everything ran smoothly and there is not a tram ahead, you will have arrived at Little Collins Street at a green light, but do not be tempted, while your passengers are alighting and boarding at their brand new platform stop, the lights will change to red. It is possible for tram drivers who were caught up earlier to re-enter the race at this red light and any red light at a platform stop, but their chances are not great, they will have less time to pick up passengers.

With all passengers aboard and a green signal, you can proceed to Bourke Street Mall. The procedure is much the same as before. Cruise through Bourke Street and arrive at a green light at Little Bourke Street, which will change to red a few moments later.

Lonsdale Street is different, the old safety zones have been removed, but not replaced with a platform stop, instead you must make it though two sets of lights to the next stop — Melbourne Central at La Trobe Street. So long as you leave Little Bourke Street at the beginning of the green cycle you should make it though to Melbourne Central, but keep an eye on the lights ahead, if they are already green, step on it.

Now you are almost out of the central business district, but do not lose that adrenaline rush, you are yet to encounter your toughest challenge — Franklin Street.

Like Lonsdale Street, Franklin Street was once a tram stop, but the old safety zones were not replaced with a platform because the stop for Queen Victoria Market is just a few metres further north, however the light sequence does not appear to have been altered to reflect that. In order to make it through, like at the other stops, you must leave Melbourne Central immediately upon receiving a green signal and travel at the full speed limit, 50 kilometres per hour, in order to make it through three intersections including Franklin Street which is likely to change to orange as you pass through. Any tram immediately behind will not make it, but you can and you will.

You have now arrived at Queen Victoria Market and this is where I leave you to continue alone your great tram journey to bridal shop land, or that shopping centre by the Ring Road, or that massive top secret government defence facility near Highpoint. Before I leave though, here are a few notes for travelling south-bound, from Queen Victoria Market to the terminus.

As with travelling north, ideally you want to arrive at the stop at a red light and depart immediately upon receiving a green signal, however, due to heavy loading and quick light cycles at Queen Victoria Market (featured above) it is unlikely that you will make it to Melbourne Central without having to stop at one or all of three signalised intersections and this in turn inhibits the journey further to the terminus. Perhaps one day the lights across Melbourne will be properly timed.

A TERRIBLY INTERESTING THING BY AUGUSTUS BROWN.

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