|The fragility of rail systems is perhaps more excusable than most of the other needlessly precarious systems but; - it sure doesn't take much to disrupt regular train service & the bus replacements cause a lot of delays.|
Recently some weeknight train services from ~7pm have been replaced by buses to travel from "St Albans" station to "Keilor Plains" & the last suburban stop of "Watergardens" (previously known as Sydenham - it's still called the Sydenham line). Even travelling one stop from "Keilor Plains" can be stuffed up in various ways. ("Keilor Plains" not only lacks staff, it was built with no provision for them, not even a broom cupboard although there are a few cabinets of some kind of electrical equipment).
Eg1 A few weeks ago well before 7 pm it was announced that the (to Melb) train would be replaced by a bus. Most train stations have a map to show where replacement buses will stop. Not at Keilor Plains so I waited near the bus stops on the toMelb side, frequently glancing at the other side of the rwy line but staying near the platform because a man dressed like the rwy workers was on the platform ignoring the announcements. This was a wise (pre)caution as when the bus replacing a train arrived, it was a train.
Eg2 Some days later in late arvo/early evening I went to "Keilor Plains" to catch a train to "Water Gardens". I heard an announcement about buses while near the from "Water Gardens" to "St Albans" (to Melb) side. 1 of a pair of men not familiar with the area or Australian English asked me how to get to "Albion" station which is between "St Albans" & Melbourne. At the same time an apparently live person over the PA said something apparently referring to them. When they pushed the emergency button again I spoke to the remote person who asked me to explain to them that the buses would leave from the other side of the track near the platform for trains to "Watergardens". I got her to confirm that all buses were stopping that side as most or all regular buses stop near the to Melb platform, and usually where practical train replacement buses stop on the same side of the line as the respective platform. She confirmed that buses for both directions would leave from the far (to "Watergardens") side of the track. So we headed off to the line crossing point and fortunately then a "special" bus arrived in East Esplanade on the to Melb side where we still were. I caught that train replacement bus to St Albans after the bus driver explained that the bus TO St Albans would depart from the other side of East Esplanade. So the automatic emergency announcement system wasn't nearly informative enough & the manual backup to that, WHICH ONLY OPERATES IF YOU INVOKE IT, was 100% wrong about buses for both directions. If that bus had been 2 minutes later we likely would have missed it & wouldn't have known what it was or which side of the line to wait at.
Eg3 On Tues 22nd September I caught a train one stop to Watergardens . We spent many minutes stopped just North of Kings Road (almost at the end of the line) because " there is a drug addicted person at Water Gardens station and we are just waiting for someone to remove them." I said to the carriage-full of annoyed passengers "We've got a train-full of people here to remove them." (I wonder how they knew (s)he was addicted, unless (s)he had been identified). Fortunately I wasn't too late for my primary objective, but I was for another objective. There was a printed notice about train replacement services and the last date specified was 17th of September so I wasn't expecting any that night of the 22nd. (Although more were likely to be coming up as there are concrete sleepers spread out from "St Albans" to "Water Gardens". The resale value of the wooden sleepers is probably higher than the cost of replacing them with concrete ones now).
When it seemed likely I would just miss a train due to Safeway shutting down most of the tills and then a customer with eftpos problems, rather than rush & then probably wait nearly 30 mins at the station I chose to repair my backpack first & then saw a bus leave from where the train replacements operated just as I was at the other side of the station - 9 mins after scheduled departure time. If I had known a bus was running I would have expected it to leave later than the train, (they normally do, especially at a terminus) & I would have caught it. The next bus left 13 mins after it's scheduled time so only out of date information delayed me ~34 mins. When the bus arrived at Keilor Plains People were coming in the front door so I waited for the back door to open, the bus started to leave without opening it & even when I requested he open the back door the driver continued until badgering from a lot of passengers made him relent.
So out of my 10-15 recent "railway" trips to or from "Keilor Plains" I've experienced 5 stuff-ups or delays before the next stop. And I've been making the same mistakes as I think are behind the inadequately robust systems;- too much optimism &/or "she'll be right" (Another factor would be the cost of more over-engineering, which would be seen as waste except when it is recognized as having prevented or ameliorated (?) a disaster. Perhaps most of those inconvenienced would have rather payed that money than bear the cost in inconvenience, but what there's little consensus on the probability or outcomes of what might happen.
And the Victorians who don't travel in the biggest cities are the most economically exploited:- while their state taxes mostly subsidise Melbourne public transport, they pay a lot more for local public transport, more for petrol & the local traffic wouldn't be much worse without public transport anyway. Of course they still gain some benefits from the cities working better & from non-motorists having some transport services.