It’s been a while coming, but the long-established tram route number 8 is to be no more. From 1 May, it will be route 58, and instead of going up Swanston Street, it will head through South Melbourne and on up William Street to West Coburg.
There was a bit of a rear-guard action against this concept when it was first mooted. In particular, the traders were concerned that tourists would find it more difficult to get to the Toorak Rd shops if they couldn’t catch a direct tram in Swanston Street. And as anyone who ever catches a tram from Fed Square or the Arts Centre knows, the trams heading down St Kilda Rd are frequently filled to capacity, so the removal of all the number 8 trams in this section will probably add to the congestion.
However, officialdom has prevailed, and is offering the consolation that during the day, there will be a frequency of 10 minutes, instead of the existing 12 minutes. And the number 6 tram will head to Moreland instead of the number 8.
Further changes are in store, too, as the tram tracks are to re-built – ostensibly as part of the Melbourne Metro project – to diverge from St Kilda Rd at Toorak Rd, instead of at Domain Rd as at present (so much for the money spent changing the Domain interchange not so long ago).
My personal view is that more people will be disadvantaged by this change than will find it beneficial, but oddly, we’re in the latter category. It will make taking public transport to A’s place somewhat simpler and quicker (train to South Yarra, then just sit on the tram).