As Yarra Trams seeks permission to remove the last “safety zone” style stops from Collins St, not everyone is happy.
The Collins St Precinct Group (CSPG) opposes the move, saying super stops impede emergency vehicles, discriminate against the disabled and don’t actually speed up tram movements.
Yarra Trams plans to remove stops at Queen, William and King streets and replace them with a single longer, parallel platform on the eastern side of the William St intersection.
According to CSPG, the removal of two stops (and King and Queen streets) cannot be justified, considering the growth of the city.
“The logic of removing these two Collins St stops, completely escapes our committee, particularly at a time when the tourism attraction is such an important part of the appeal of our city,” CSPG wrote to Yarra Trams.
The group believes that “parallel” tram stops on the same side of an intersection delays emergency vehicles.
“The continued use of the parallel platforms in our street, must be a major concern for emergency services, where easy access is essential,” it wrote.
“Our members see and report examples of this problem occurring at the corner of Collins and Swanston on at least a weekly basis, where the MFB simply can’t get through.”
“Similarly, in Swanston with ambulances entering the city from the south and being delayed at Flinders Lane by the parallel platform congestion caused by the trams.”
However, Yarra Trams rejects the claims, writing to CSPG to say: “The MFB and Ambulance Victoria have now provided written confirmation stating that they do not object to the construction of the proposed side-by-side tram platform stop in Collins St, despite acknowledging that the new tram platform stops generally can have the potential to create minor delays to their responses. The Victoria Police have provided verbal advice that they do not object to the tram platform design.”
The precinct group claimed that the introduction of super stops in Collins St was meant to save three minutes traversing the Hoddle Grid, but had resulted in a time saving of only three seconds.
“When the concept of “super stops” was first mooted by Yarra Trams for Collins St, it was suggested that by reducing the number of stops between Spring and Spencer, a saving in running time of three minutes could be achieved. Research data to hand now shows that commuter congestion created at each of the new platforms reduced this saving to no more than three seconds on average,” CSPG said.
However, Yarra Trams replied that it was unaware of this data source.
“It is estimated that this tram project (rationalisation of three tram stop pairs to one tram platform stop pair) will improve tram travel times by approximately one minute per service,” Yarra Trams said.
The precinct group said the proposal was discriminatory towards disabled passengers as they would be forced to travel further to a stop.
However, Yarra Trams said the roll-out of new tram platforms throughout Metropolitan Melbourne was in line with federal legislation outlined in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
“The City of Melbourne and Yarra Trams have supported this mandated roll-out of tram platform stops and developed a set of factors to be considered in regards to the positioning of tram platform stops in order to provide the most effective outcome for all road users which does not necessarily support the provision of tram platform stops on the “approach corner” of all major intersections,” Yarra Trams said.
The issue is expected to be soon determined by the City of Melbourne.