It's no secret that I love public transport. Trains. Trams. Even the occasional bus. They're part of my daily life and I wouldn't have it any other way. For me, one of the joys of going to another big city is getting to know the public transport system, and delighting in the fact that it's inevitably more efficient than our own (excluding the #96 tram line, the most speedy and wonderful tram line in Melbourne, which in my mind could not get more efficient if it tried).
But if there is something more exciting than discovering another city's public transport system, its discovering something new about your own. I'm not talking about where to stand at your favourite train station so the doors stop right in front of you, or which tram door to get on to maximise your chances of getting a seat, or even once on the tram, where to position yourself on a full tram so as to pounce on a newly vacated seat (if north of separation street, beside a girl in a Santa Maria College uniform). That's low hanging fruit.
I'm talking about discovering how to catch a tram that isn't even there.
The PT scene really cranked up a notch with the arrival of Tram Tracker. That little pal in your pocket that can tell you the three next trams at a given stop, what time the tram you're on is due to arrive at a given location, when there is a delay due to some shit going down. It's fantastic.
The next three trams feature is my favourite, and essential when I'm trying to make a tram connection after going to the gym in the mornings. It's all a bit of a rush and I need to know how much I should hustle.
It looks like this, in case you're not a user.
As you can see, it even shows you what kind of tram is coming. Only sometimes, early in the mornings, there ain't no picture of a tram. Just a blank space and then the number of minutes. I found this weird, and several times hustled to catch those trams, but they never came. I gave up on them. They were ghost trams.
But one day, standing my designated stop, waiting for the tram after the ghost tram because I knew better, I heard the faint sound of trams gliding on tracks. I looked up, saw nothing, and then decided to walk down the street a bit, to the corner of Plenty road and high street and around the corner to miller street, where the tram depot is.
And that's when I saw The ghost tram. You see, instead of starting its journey in Bundoora or wherever the heck the 86 goes, it starts at the Preston depot. I guess there are so many people on the 86 route that they have to keep the supply up. The first stop it goes past is the stop after my stop. It's a ghost tram until then.
It was a real eureka moment. Now when Tram tracker tells me ghost tram is on it's way, I trot down to the next stop and intercept it. I'm the first passenger on ghost tram! I tell you, it's really something.We all like to feel special, right? Ghost tram makes me feel special. Because I cracked the code and just because I love being on a tram all by myself.