Post-celebration Chaos On Cards

The Sunday Age

Sunday December 30, 2007

Winston Tan

PUBLIC transport chaos is expected in Melbourne as people try to get home after New Year's Eve celebrations.

Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said that all loop stations, not just Flinders Street and Southern Cross, should be open to help revellers get home.

He said Parliament Station, which is closest to New Year's Eve celebrations to be held at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens, should be opened as a priority.

"It would make sense to open Parliament Station all night if that's where people are going to be gathering to watch the fireworks.

"For the sake of putting a few more staff on, all the loop stations could be open, which could provide an easier trip home for most people."

While Mr Bowen said it was good to see trains and trams running all night, many people in areas served only by buses would miss out and could be stranded in the city.

"The suburbs that are away from the train and tram networks really only have infrequent bus services, and that goes doubly for New Year's Eve when many services won't be running," Mr Bowen said.

Metlink spokeswoman Stephanie Arvanitis said NightRider buses would help those in suburbs such as Doncaster get home.

She said there was no need for loop stations to be open, with most train passengers going from Flinders Street Station to the Alexandra Gardens and through to Southbank, and from Southern Cross Station to Docklands.

But with the event at the Royal Exhibition Building only recently announced, Ms Arvanitis said there would be a review of passenger movements.

With a warm night anticipated, the City of Melbourne will provide drinking water at Alexandra Gardens and Birrarung Marr.

Lord Mayor John So said: "We have taken every precaution to ensure the city is a fun, safe place to celebrate."

People who choose to celebrate New Year's Eve at the beach are being warned not to go swimming.

Greg Scott, from Life Saving Victoria, said alcohol had played a large part in drownings on Victoria's coast.

"Given that it will be hot weather, and people may take their drinks down to the beach later in the day, it is a worry," Mr Scott said.

He said lifesavers had rescued many people in the hours after New Year's Eve celebrations, around 1am or 2am, after the victims had been drinking.

WHERE TO PARTY IN THE CITY

1 WATERFRONT CITY, DOCKLANDS, 6PM-1AM Family entertainment, including Wags the Dog and ice skating at rink.

2 NEW QUAY, DOCKLANDS, 9PM-12.15AM 3 SOUTHGATE ARTS AND LEISURE PRECINCT, 7.30PM-12.15AM Carnival theme with roving performers.

4 FEDERATION SQUARE, 8PM-1.30AM Live bands including soul outfit Pablo Discobar. Also aerial bungy acrobats The Electric Catapult.

5 ROYAL EXHIBITION BUILDING WESTERN FORECOURT, 6pm-12.15am Outdoor cinema screening latest release movies, including Spiderman 3 and Casino Royale.

6 BIRRARUNG MARR, 7PM-1AM Swing dance classes launch a night of dancing, jazz, funk and Latin. Also youth bands rocking live on stage behind ArtPlay.

7 ALEXANDRA GARDENS, 5PM-12.45AM Family fun with magicians and kids movies, including Open Season, Monster House and Are We Done Yet.

VANTAGE POINTS

FAMILY FIREWORKS, 9.15PM

Best viewing: Alexandra Gardens, Birrarung Marr, New Quay and Waterfront City, Docklands.

MIDNIGHT FIREWORKS

Best viewing: Alexandra Gardens, Birrarung Marr, Federation Square, Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct, New Quay, Waterfront City, Docklands, Royal Exhibition Building forecourt.

GETTING AROUND

TRAINS AND TRAMS will run all night. Free from 6pm until first normal scheduled service on New Years Day.

Last trains depart city loop stations at 12.20am. Flinders Street, Southern Cross and Richmond will remain open.

NIGHTRIDER BUS services every half hour from 12.30am, leaving from Collins Street between Swanston and Russell streets.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

CALL METLINK ON 131 638

STAYING SAFE

ALCOHOL Banned in public spaces.

FIRST AID City Square, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, St Kilda Road, Birrarung Marr, Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct, Alexandra Gardens and Docklands.

PICKING UP KIDS From 12.30am pick up at supervised zones on Collins Street between Swanston and Elizabeth streets or on St Kilda Road near Linlithgow Avenue.

© 2007 The Sunday Age

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