Melbourne’s public transport and me

I catch public transport practically every day, certainly every work day. Here in Melbourne, in the inner suburbs, it is relatively easy to get anywhere by train, tram or bus. To get to and from work I catch all three; two trams, one train and a bus. It takes me about an hour to get to work and I spend almost every minute of that time reading. If I drove to work, I would miss out on those two hours a day to read. I read mostly on my Kindle because it is lightweight and easy to fit into my bag. But I also read library books, often regretting their size and weight as I balance them on top of my lunch, between my wallet and water bottle. I bought a bigger bag, so I could fit everything in it.

I’m not alone with my reading habit, so many people on public transport read and, although I’ve seen several Kindles, most of them read real books, the majority paperbacks. In the past I expected to see more people on their phones, there are a few of them, but the us readers outnumber them. Sometimes I try to see what other people are reading. Yes, I’m that woman on the tram or train who cranes her neck toward you, or bends too far forward or leans way too far back to try to see what you are reading. I’m not often successful.

I am always running for trams and trains, not so much buses. Despite living near St Kilda Road, which has almost continuous trams scheduled during peak hours, I still feel the urge to run to catch the one which is nearly ready to pull away from the stop. It must be the sense of achievement I feel as I hang onto the handle and drag myself up the stairs, puffing and panting and looking anything except controlled.

I enjoy travelling on public transport, but I have one major complaint. Rarely do I hop on a mode of public transport which looks as if it has been regularly cleaned. If anything, the buses are cleaner than the trains which are cleaner than the trams, which are almost always disgusting. I doubt the seats in the trams have ever been steam cleaned and I’m certain the handles, seat rims and poles have never been wiped down. Sometimes they are so sticky it is impossible to hold on.

I’ve travelled through a few countries in Europe where the public transport is immaculate. Germany is one of them. If only the Victorian government would insist on cleanliness as part of the tender for the public transport system. After all, as a city which is noted as “the most liveable city” for seven years running, would be fabulous if it could also claim to be the cleanest. In my opinion, that goes for the streets as well as the public transport.

Mind you, the population of Melbourne who live in the outer suburbs would simply like to have reliable public transport, clean or not.


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