Can We Please Talk About The Cluster F**k That Is The Sydney Light Rail?
For years I thought there could be nothing worse than the horror of pouring myself into a Sydney train during peak hour.
That was until nearly six months ago when I started a new job and was introduced to the fresh hell that is the Sydney light rail - the mess of a system that makes the house of cards that is our train network look world class.
We all know public transport in Sydney is one great big joke. Sydney has the longest average daily commute time in all Australia at 71 minutes, according to The Conversation.
Fair enough, it's the biggest city. But if you think you've seen the worst of public transport on trains or buses, I implore you to take the light rail from its first stop at Central. This is where you will bear witness to fully grown adults who don't know how to form a queue.
You will also meet people who stop the service from departing because they get their bags, or worse, themselves, stuck in the doors. All because they insist if 'you just moved down' there would absolutely be enough room for them to get on (note: there isn't).
You will meet people who get into squabbles about fellow commuters being too close to them when you literally have no where else to go. I'm sure there would be more instances of physical assault reported on the light rail if we actually had the ability to move or arms... but I digress.
As though the light rail doesn't have enough issues of its own making, you then introduce external forces such as pedestrians walking through the CBD who can't lift their heads from their phones long enough to realise they are about to be hit by the slowest form of public transport of all time.
This causes the light rail to come to a grinding stop that can send you flying, despite its lack of speed. And don't get me started on what happens when you introduce a little bit of rain.
But it doesn't end there, you see. We are going to have a new light rail that has blown out to $2.9 billion in cost, $1.3 billion more than originally forecast and already a year behind in delivery.
NSW's transport minister Andrew Constance said the project has been a "difficult build".
"We took the busiest street in the nation and ripped (it) up to transform it into the open, inviting boulevard it is today," he said in a statement.
But never mind the extra cost or delays in building it because it's a "really exciting time".
"I can't wait until everyone gets to jump on board and ride this fantastic transport solution," he said.
And there you have a man who has very clearly never had a senior citizen wish them a slow and painful death because you didn't move out of the light rail door fast enough so they could get to a priority seat on an already full service (for the record yes, this has happened to me).
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay had a go at the government's management of the project.
"Not only is the light rail already a year late, but now we've learned it's $1.3 billion over budget," Ms McKay said in a statement on Friday.
This is a testament to the Liberals' bad management.
McKay pointed out the additional money spent on the light rail has to come from somewhere, suggesting they will either have to "privatise or cut".
So might I suggest before we turn our attention to the shiny new light rail that is supposed to make all of our transport hopes and dreams come true, we pay some attention to the one that doesn't have enough services to fulfill the demand from Sydney commuters.
There's no doubt that in densely populated cities like the Sydney CBD area, light rail can help solve major transport problems. Light rail projects such as trams and monorails are notoriously complex to plan and pull off, particularly in densely-packed urban centres, according to Railway Technology.
They take a lot of time and planning to be pulled off properly and if our existing light rail is anything to go by, we were never well placed for a new one to pan out well.
If I can point out somewhere to start? Let's take a note out of Japan's book (yes, I have been there, twice). In 2016, people in Japan spent on average 41 minutes on commuting during weekdays. That's half an hour less than our commute time.
Their transport system -- particularly their train network -- is so efficient and streamlined, it could probably tuck you into bed if you asked it to.
Featured image: AAP One