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Ventura Volvo B7RLE Volgren Optimus 1067
Thank goodness for buses! A hot few days this week saw PTV, the body responsible for public transport in the state of Victoria replace some trams with buses. This Volgren Optimus bodied Volvo B7RLE of Ventura operating in lieu of Yarra Trams Class A trams on route 78 from Balaclava to North Richmond along the popular Chapel Street. Route 82, the only other route not to touch the city centre was also replaced by buses. Route 30 was suspened altogether and route 11 diverted via Latrobe Street to cover the 30 route. This was done as the older trams are allegedly unreliable in the heat, but the action taken by PTV displaced only a small number of the most elderly Z3 trams. It was not clear in the Class A trams displaced from the 30 and 78 were deployed to cover Z3 units or if the A units were themselves unreliable in the heat. Notwithstanding substantial numbers of Z3 and A trams were plying other routes all day long. Route 78 passengers got to enjoy low entrance and air conditioned buses instead of their usual step entrance non air conditioned trams. At least one replacement bus was observed not taking advantage of its low entrance and staying astride tram lines to pick up passengers at tram stops. It is illegal for motorists to undertake trams at tram stops for fear of colliding with alighting and boarding passenegers and have signage to reinforce this. The buses do not. Saturday was another hot day but the trams were back on the 78, presumably because schedules are not as demanding. However Chapel Street still had replacement buses, this time replacing trains, with the Sandringham line suspended. Over Easter the demand for rail replacement buses will rocket. The Dineen Group has established a new subsidiary T2B (Train to Bus) specifically to undertake rail replacement work, other companies have also introduced dedicated rail replacemnt buses, like Victorian Touring Coaches. They are all taking advantage of surplus Volgren CR225L Mercedes O405NH buses from Transperth, the buses featured in this week's new australia.showbus.com gallery. These buses are around twenty years old. This month's Inside Track column in BUSES magazine by Phil Stockley suggests the bus industry does itself no favours by providing no frills rail replacement transport. There is a problem though with the way some passengers abuse both trains and buses in Australia. While Melbourne has a culture of street art, Sydney's moquette almost encourages graffiti on its buses. Many of Melbourne's coach companies operate the "one driver one coach" model and drivers are loath to use "their" coach on rail replacement work.
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See February 24th's picture of the week here.