As Sydney and others abandoned their trams, one man in Melbourne fought back
Thank you for a well researched and thoughtful article.. A couple of comments if I may … One important factor in the survival of the electric tram system was the cable tram system that lasted so long. The central tram tracks in Melbourne were much newer than those in other cities in Australia, so the cost of track renewal was not as high in the 1950s. Second comment: By the mid 20th century all tramways in Australia were run by local state or city government. The distinctive feature of the MMTB was that it was a statutory authority - effectively a state owned private company. That gave Risson more independence from bureacracy.
Superb. Toronto featured a similar close call on the abandonment of its large streetcar network, but public opinion in the early 1970s reversed the politicians' and US consultants' plans to replace the streetcars with diesel buses. Toronto also had a trolleybus network, which had generally been converted from lesser patronized streetcar lines. However by the 1980s, the city had been lax in maintaining the electrical network, transformers, and wires as they got increasingly older and worn, so the trolleybuses were all converted to bus by around 1992. I still remember fondly the quiet, non-rattling trolleybus ride. Compressed natural gas (CNG) buses were trialled for a few years as 'non-polluting' trolleybus replacements, but those were not a success.
Thank you for writing this essay. As a Sydneysider, I had often wondered how there came to be a difference in views between Melbourne and Sydney with regards to tramways during the post-WW2 period; your article has certainly educated me in that regard.
I note there is a spelling error in the section regarding Sir Risson's military career. The text states "In April 1943, Risson led the trips of the 9th Division...", which I believe should have the word "troops", instead of "trips".
Again, thank you for publishing this essay! I sincerely look forward to your next installment in this 'Substack'.