In a city where sport can seem to outrank politics, school fees, coffee quality, religion and even property prices, the notion there’s no gain without pain is widely understood, teaching the community to unite in adversity with stoicism and bonhomie. When that metropolis is expanding faster than many, pressure on the transport system is one of the most acute growing pains. Melbourne is surely experiencing peak train pain.
Melburnians are again frustrated by delays caused primarily by the massive works to upgrade and expand the rail network. People are reporting spending as much as five hours on a commute that usually requires an hour. The line closures, to permit works on the $11-billion Metro Tunnel project, provide a huge challenge that the replacement buses appear to be struggling to manage. The first day’s transport meltdown on Monday, exacerbated by vegan protesters in the CBD, is unlikely to be repeated and the replacement schedule seemed to work to the delays predicted by Public Transport Victoria.
There is insufficient parking near stations on lines that are still functioning, creating another frustration flash point. Roads that are already hopelessly congested are unable to deal with the involuntary traffic surge. In the past few years, road congestion in Melbourne has become the biggest economic impediment of the entire state.
The Andrews government’s emphatic election victory was largely driven by its record of delivering long-overdue infrastructure investment. People welcome this creation of long-term economic and social assets – especially the badly needed metro tunnel – and are prepared to suffer the short-term pain.