Public Transport in Melbourne makes me love my car!

While public transport has its place in a modern city, it seems that unless you live & work extremely close to train stations on the same line, in many cases it’s far better to take a car.

Our car is currently off the road so we’ve been relying on public transport here in Melbourne and it’s a bloody pain in the neck! We live in McKinnon which is in the sorta-inner south east not too far from Moorabbin Airport so we’re not way out in the boonies but were also not in the inner-city as we once were.

So, here’s a list of issues so far:

  1. From the front door of my house to the front door of my office in West Richmond, it’s faster for me to drive than take public transport, even if I use the bus from home to the railways station instead of walking. At 7:30am I drive to the office by 8am and that’s even after dropping Kitt at Richmond station to get into the CBD. Via Public Transport it’s a bus (or walk) to the station, then a train to Richmond & walk up to West Richmond or a train to the city & then another to West Richmond. Not all trains that go through West Richmond stop there and buses at home are infrequent enough to make walking almost but not quite more effective.
  2. Now that holidays are over, the trains are starting to fill up, occasionally being standing-room only even from McKinnon around 7:50-8am (especially if they’ve cancelled a prior service or it’s running late). Certainly the roads are getting more crowded but I’m still faster in the car.
  3. On weekends when we go shopping, the bus service through Carnegie and/or to Chadstone drops to one per hour from about 3 or 4pm onwards – bad luck if you just miss one!
  4. Later in the evening or on a Sunday, frequency drops right off and you’re screwed if you want to stop off for a late dinner on the way home from watching a movie in the city.
  5. Carrying anything more than a couple of bags of shopping per person becomes a joke! If you’re lucky there’s space but you’re still hauling them all with you instead of chucking them in the back of the car.
  6. Even if I’m in slow moving traffic, I have heating/cooling, my music and space. Woe unto the commuters packed into a bus/tram/train with crappy temperature controls, packed up against others who usually hate moving into the middle of the carriage.
  7. Lets not even talk about going from down here up to Kew or Greensborough where you need to go into the city then back out again on not-so-frequent services (if you’re doing it on a weekend/evening/holiday) and walk a few kilometres if your friends aren’t living near a service.

Yes, public transport is an essential item but we really need to improve the offerings here in Melbourne if more people are to start using it. How about more frequency on routes & not dropping down to “non-existant” on Saturday arvos, Sunday’s or Public Holidays? Just that would help immensely let alone putting in some more routes for those of us not conveniently near a train station or tram stop.

Busy Day

Yesterday wound up being quite a busy day. I spent some time in the morning racing Nykolai in Burnout with smash competitions and trying to clock best time in a champ car. From there it was a walk down to Carlisle St to get food to make for dinner then lug it all home.

Once home I headed over to Reservoir so I could drop off AG’s extremely cool “oil can guitar” that he’d picked up in South Africa. An amazing piece of work where the body is literally an old oil can with wood neck, hand made pickups and controls. From there we drove over to Brunswick East to pick up AG’s car that had been sitting under a tree for months while he was overseas. Clearing off the collection of possum poo, cobwebs and leaves was the least of the problems. Battery was dead (jump started from my car) and brake fluid was very low, but we got it running and ready to go.

Not long after getting home I got a call from Carlo to see if I wanted to come down to his Flight Experience store and spend some time in their 737-800 simulator. How could I refuse that? So, after dinner it was off to the city and 3 hours in the cockpit flying into and out of airports around the world.

Another busy, happy Saturday but not much time for rest today either: I’m about to head off to Queen Victoria Markets to do the week’s shopping then we have lunch with Kitt’s brother. Maybe some down time will be possible this arvo? Maybe?

Minor Maintenance – but I did it :)

Still been having problems with the car over the past couple of weeks – seems the lead to the positive terminal on the battery was getting loose. I’d go to start the car, it wouldn’t fire over (just like the previous hassles) so I’d pop the hood, jump out, push the lead back in and try to reseat it in the socket and then fire it up. Most times it worked first go – some times it needed a couple of tries.

This morning I finally got the time to take the positive lead off and disassemble it all (fortunately it’s *really* simple). Cleaned it, repositioned the cables and put it all back together again. So far so good and all seems to be right again. If only getting the breaks, suspension and aircon sorted out were so easy…

Not the car’s fault

So, remember my previous post about having car problems?. Well, it seems it wasn’t entirely the car’s fault that it wouldn’t start.

After leaving work early on Monday arvo and getting to the car, I called the RACV to arrange the tow down to Greg’s shed. The truck arrived about 40 minutes after I called and did a great job of getting the car on the back and down to the shed in record time. I’d tried to leave early enough so we beat the worst of the traffic and it was a surprisingly good run down the expressway and on from there. Awesome.

The first 20k are free so I only had to pay for the last 10k which meant the whole tow cost me less than $40 – handy. Greg arrived back at the shed with a starter motor to suit my car – $125 – ouch – lucky me to have such a unique vehicle.

We cracked the hood and I demonstrated the lights, camera, no action problem. “Wait a minute” says Greg “Do that again?” – lather, rinse, repeat and Greg goes “Ahhhh – hang on.” He heads into the shed and comes back with a small hammer which he then proceeds to whack the battery terminals with, knocking off a bit of corrosion in the process. He adjusts the leads onto the battery and tells me to try again.

Vroom – Houston, we have ignition!

Bloody hell…

Seems that the battery had power, the lights could work, the windows go up & down and so on, but the connection wasn’t solid enough to supply the current required by the starter motor (the Cranking Amps). So, when the RACV guy had a look at the battery, it appeared fine, but it just couldn’t enough power down to the starter.

So, if I had known to double check the battery connections I would have saved myself a stack of hassles. However, seeing all the lights come on and so on, I figured the battery was fine.

Looks like it fooled the RACV guy too. Greg reckons he should have done the same thing anyhow, even though the battery gave good readings on the meter.


So, the car is working fine, Greg’s able to return the expensive little starter motor and get his money back and I’ve learned yet another lesson about electro-mechanical systems. Hell of a way to learn, no?

Joys of older cars

What a “fun” day – my car broke down at the Queen Victoria Markets this morning. I got back with my load of shopping, jumped in and went to fire it up. Lights, camera but no action. No cranking at all.

Called RACV and had to wait over 2 hours before their roadside assistance guy could arrive (busy day). He worked at it for a bit but couldn’t get it to fire up and confirmed that the starter was shot. While they have starter motors for a number of Mazdas, the RX-7 is not exactly common so there wasn’t much they could do for me.

Fortunately RACV membership includes a taxi ride up to $50 to get you home if your car breaks down, so I used that to get myself and the shopping back. Of course, that didn’t go smoothly as it took 2 taxis to get one who could find where I was. DOH!

So, the car is sitting in the parking lot overnight but security knows about it and will keep an eye on it where possible. I’ll arrange for RACV to tow it to my mate’s shed where we’ll see about trying to fix it. At least I get a discount on the towing – all part of the service.

Yet Another Car Hassle

Oh great, someone else has run into my frickin’ car – I was in working at Destra with the car parked on a side street. When I came out, I found that someone appeared to have backed into the side of my car, putting a massive dent in one panel and a scrape on another. No information left on the car, they just drove away. Did some checking and no one in the area had seen anything. Very annoying, but the car is at least still useable.

General Update

Still here, still ticking along. The work as crew chief with Balloon Sunrise is going well and I’m working my way towards a commercial balloon pilot license. I’m no longer with the AWU but am still doing some tech support for Crumpler.

I had applied to become an Air Traffic Controller and made it right through to the end. After a number of all-day exam sessions, I wound up getting rejected due to not having the right personality match for the position. Basically, they figured I’d not be comfortable being shoved into their mould and would get bored and want to leave. It was a bit of a shame but well worth doing. I’ve logged the experience and am in the process of revamping my Fly Me Friendly section so it’ll show up there eventually.

Nykolai is with his mom in Buenos Aires (Argentina) visiting family for a month. Kinda wierd not having him around.

The car is running well after a recent tune up – still got lots to go on it – new exhaust, new suspension, probably new brakes then fix up the body work. Slowly getting there with it as funds permit.

Stinking Car Thieves!

Got back to my car last night to discover that some little shit had broken into it and gone through the center console and glove box. They attacked the door lock to get in so now it’s unusable (can still lock the door, just can’t use the key to get in). They also broke the center console lid as they tried to get into it.

All they took was my mobile phone charger that was in the cigarette lighter ‘cos there wasn’t anything else in the car.

At the time I discovered it, I would have quite happily smashed the bastard’s face into a wall if I could have found them. Now that I’ve relaxed a bit, all I can do is hope that they get all that’s coming to them. Just wish I could be there to see them get it…