07 January 2008

Transport matters

Suburban railway travel

Today The Advertiser published (but not online) some more letters about Adelaide's public transport situation.

I travelled on the rail system today and found it very punctual (I just missed one train but won't complain) yet still looking tired and in need of upgrading.

A relatively cheap way of doing something would be to clean the train windows, or replace those those which are badly scratched (see this post from last year for an illustration). It's dispiriting not to be able to see clearly where you're travelling: I wonder how many people have missed their station because of not being able to read station identification signs (some of which are themselves defaced and illegible). I know drivers often read out station names, but their voices don't always come through clearly on the PA systems.

The drivers are currently in dispute with TransAdelaide over pay and they are holding stop work meetings (short strikes?) during off peak hours on some days. As it's school holidays I doubt whether too many people are inconvenienced much, but even so I hope that this relatively low key pressure helps obtain a reasonably satisfactory result for them.

Another current issue, and one which almost certainly will not be resolved as easily as the drivers's dispute is the poor condition of the track. The Outer Harbor line was reballasted and generally upgraded only five years or so ago yet there are now a significant number of speed restrictions, some as low as 15 kph, as the photo above, which I took during my travels today, indicates. (I found the page in a carriage- someone had used the back of it to draw attention to a wet seat).

The suburban railway system for all its shortcomings is an essential part of Adelaide's public transport system but an element for which the government seems to have no coherent or feasible plans for the medium to long term. It is planning to effect some repairs to the Outer Harbor and Grange lines over the next couple of weekends, but beyond that what? The State government's goal of doubling public transport use by 2014 or thereabouts seems to have been shunted into a siding. The cover story of this week's Independent Weekly indicates that the Noarlunga railway line is unlikely to be extended in our time, which is probably a wise decision notwithstanding the urban expansion down south, but something should be done to ensure the sustainability of the existing system, especially the major north and south lines.

Bicycle sales exceed those of cars...again

Today I used the train as a means of transporting my bike to and from the beach, where I rode from Grange to Outer Harbor (an excellent ride when the weather is like it was today - sunny and not too hot - and the tide is out). It's therefore good to see that, as The Age reports, in Australia bicycle sales have outstripped car sales for the eighth consecutive year.

Not that I've bought a bike for several years, but I do own two: a mountain bike, whose tyres make it easier to tride on firm sand, and a road bike, which I use less often. (I only have one car, which I try to use as little as possible around town, even in inclement weather).

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