New Tram stops: Have your say

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By Daniel Wilson

Letters went out last month to 95 000 addresses asking for community feedback on upgrades to tram stops on Fitzroy Street and Acland Street.

Public Transport Victoria and Yarra Trams have announced plans to upgrade the Acland Street Terminus and Stop 133 Fitzroy Street, and have provided options for the public to choose from. Port Phillip Council has released further options for the public to consider.

Stop 133 Fitzroy Street is located at the intersection of Fitzroy Street and Canterbury Road / Grey Street. This junction is served by trams on both Route 96 and Route 16. Public Transport Victoria is seeking feedback on early design options which propose to relocate and upgrade Stop 133 further along Fitzroy Street between Grey and Princes streets.

The Acland Street terminus is currently located at the busy Acland Street and Barkly Street intersection in St Kilda. The terminus operates as a single track, kerb-side tram stop next to a busy footpath lined with popular cafés, restaurants and retail outlets.

Here too Public Transport Victoria is seeking feedback on early design options. Concept 1 would almost entirely ban cars from Acland Street shopping strip except a short one way loop between Irwell and Belford Street connecting the two one-way streets. Within this design the terminus could be moved away from Barkley Street to make room for a small plaza. Also a kerb side or island tram stop are both possible options. Concept 2 would see Acland Street become one way for motor traffic.

In both cases palm trees would have to be removed. The cause for all this upheaval is that trams would not share the same space as cars, which slow them down, and further, the stops are bigger and bulkier, which means that existing features would need to make way.

At a recent Council meeting at St Kilda Town Hall, it became apartment that there was opposition to the proposals. Grievances ranged from inaccuracies in the designs, to questioning the need for such expenditure in the first place.

Professor Michael Kamm, property owner in Acland Street, suggested “all options had a potential to destroy the viability of Acland Street”. He pointed to Bridge Road in Richmond where he claimed new public transport infrastructure had a negative impact. “Do we need to compromise Acland Street for trams” queried Professor Kamm.

Chris Hickey, President of St Kilda Village and Acland Street Traders Association, said the research “does not constitute a feasibility study”, and warned “our livelihoods are at stake”.

Roger Wyndham, President of the Fitzroy Street Precinct Traders Association, suggested that not enough research had gone into assessing the impact of any of the options, particularly traffic impacts, and hence questioned if community consultation was premature.

Jennifer McCrabb, Principal of St Kilda Park Primary School, worried that the new stop would inhibit access to the school by car, which is a considerable worry as 75% of students arrive by car.

Council has put third and fourth options for both stops out for public consultation. For Fitzroy Street that would mean stop 133 would move closer to Princess Street or be removed altogether. In Acland Street that would mean the shopping strip would entirely be a pedestrian walkway, or a potential fourth option could be that the trams and cars could share the space as is currently the case.

Serveral times during the meeting it was suggested the trams could simply terminate in front of Luna Park and not go down Acland Street. While this isn’t an official option, it is worth noting that 40% of visitors arrive by car.

Councillor Serge Thomann remarked that with the information he had before him he didn’t know if he could make a decision and doubted if that would change by August 31. Council will send a written request to Public Transport Victoria to extend the consultation period by at least a further two months.

Feedback can be made to Council: http://haveyoursayatportphillip.net.au/tram-route-96

Public Transport Victoria is also accepting feedback: http://ptv.vic.gov.au/projects/trams/route-96-project/

Next Information session: Thursday 15 August, 5.30pm – 7.30pm, Acland Court Shopping Centre, 158 Acland Street, St Kilda

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