MELBOURNE’S newest tram that delivers a “massive increase in capacity” has made its maiden journey on Route 96.
Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder, Yarra Trams CEO Clement Michel and Public Transport Victoria CEO Ian Dobbs unveiled the 33m E class tram at Southbank this morning.
The tram, which arrived about 10 months late, can carry 210 people but only has 64 seats.
It is the first of 50 E class trams, worth $300 million, ordered by the former Labor government.
Commuters welcomed the new trams, while St Kilda traders expressed concerns about plans for the route.
Mr Mulder said the tram interior had been designed after consultation with the community, including disability groups.
“There is a massive increase in capacity with the new tram,” he said.
“People are used to standing on trams. There is always an opportunity for someone who is sitting to give up their seat for someone who does have special needs.”
Mr Mulder said trams were big business in Melbourne and the newest addition to the city’s fleet was a tribute to local manufacturing.
“I’d rather it be a bit late and make sure we get everything right,” he said.
“It is not as if we have taken an off the shelf tram, here this is from the ground up ad there have been some issues, particularly in the early stages in skilling up (of workers).”
David Major, who was one of the first passengers to catch the tram when he jumped on board outside the casino, said he was impressed.
“(It’s) nice, very nice. From the outside it looks very different, just the sharp front and it’s nice and clean,” Mr Major said.
“It’s good to see some new ones on the track.”
Williamstown graphic designer and blogger Andie Leslie said she liked the spacious interior and improved layout.
“They don’t have those mini seats any more, the bum rests. The four-seater situation is way better than separate seats,” Ms Leslie, 22, said.
“The pattern on the seats could be improved, but that’s just me being picky.”
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said it was acutely aware of the government’s promise to expand the fleet by 10 new trams and expected it to be fulfilled.
Mr Dobbs said the low floor trams operating on Route 96 would be cascaded on to other routes as each new E class arrived.
Mr Michel said the new tram provided a new passenger experience.
The tram, which was made in Melbourne, also has CCTV cameras inside and out.
Five new trams will be on the network by early next year with the rest to arrive by 2018.
The trams are part of PTV’s premium line project 96, which would take a whole of line approach and see new and bigger stops, car spaces removed and tram priority.
St Kilda Village Traders Group president Chris Hickey said shop owners wanted improved tram services but were concerned about on-street parking being removed.
He said transport bosses wanted trams to run every four minutes, instead of every nine.
“They are trying to turn Acland St into a tram depot. There will be one leaving there (the terminus), there will be one in the terminus ready to leave and then there will be one coming into Acland St going into the terminus. That’ll be 99m of tram in Acland St,” he said.
Source: News Ltd.