First, to answer a question I now get asked daily on the trams, no, I [still] don’t work for Yarra Trams. I just give them a heads up about things I notice on and around the trams. I’d say we have a love-hate relationship. So why do love Melbourne’s trams?
Well, as I think we’re well aware now, it started with the E-Class. It has a ton of technology on-board and I love technology. I wouldn’t be majoring in Information Technology if I didn’t. But, in a way, it started a bit before that. Back in the US, I’ve memorized several of the announcements on our public transport (we say transit there), which we call SEPTA. I have a love-hate relationship with them too, but I still SEPTA Philly. Technically, you could call the rolling stock of public transport technology. I often get asked why I’m not an engineer. Short answer is I’m terrible at math. Long answer is I’d rather write the software that controls it instead (or maybe just install it).
So, as I’ve mentioned before, a large reason why I like the E-Class tram in particular is the two touch screens that drive it. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the only tram I like, it’s just simply my favorite. I think the Citadis (C1 and C2/Bumblebee) sound the coolest of the trams: they have a real horn and sound like what I’d think a spaceship would sound like when they go by. But, the C1’s swing widely on the tracks. C2’s are better, but the Bumblebees at the cabs still ride like a bumblebee that’s had too much to drink. C1’s are shaken, not stirred.
The Combinos (D1/2) are OK. They’re generally a smooth ride, but their design is shit. The middle bogies are notorious for becoming loud and causing havoc on the track, and at the cab ends, the bogies stick in to the tram, so there’s only room for a single seat. They’re definitely not the finest piece of engineering from Siemens. But, they work, and the delays in the announcements while the computer figures out what to say are hilarious (The next stop is, Swanson Street. Change here for. trams. along. the. Swanson Street. and. Saint Kilda Road corridor). I can’t say much about the older trams. Some have AC, some don’t. Some have the useless “bum seat” some don’t. Windows open (without a key) or some, others not. The W-Class (original trams) are pretty nice. They seem to have held up well for their age. I wouldn’t mind taking one on a route other than City Circle, but they’re probably the least accessible of all the trams in the fleet, especially when not at a platform stop. They remind me the most of Philly’s trams, especially the Girard Street ones (we call them Trolleys or the Subway-Surface line by the way).
So, in short, no, I don’t work for Yarra Trams, yes, I love my trams, and I just like knowing how things work.