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Melbourne's trains are now replacement buses and my commute is a hellscape

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Written by
Cassidy Knowlton
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Are there any two words in the English language that strike Melburnians with existential dread as much as the words "replacement bus"? Part or all of the Cranbourne, Pakenham, Frankston, Sandringham, Glen Waverley and Mernda train lines are closing during the month of April, and that is an awful lot of suburban commuters who need to get into the city.

Today marked the beginning of the worst of the disruptions for people on the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Frankston lines, with no trains running between massive interchange station Caulfield and Flinders Street. My commute normally takes about 40 minutes. 

Herewith, a timeline of how things went so horrifically badly. 

7.31am: Get on the train from my station to Caulfield. So far, so good. 

7.46am: The train terminates at Caulfield, and I join the sea of commuters streaming towards the replacement buses.  

7.50am: I shuffle out of the station alongside hordes of dead-eyed, shambling commuters, heading for the buses. Or what we are told are the buses; none are visible from the station exit, as there are several more steps before actually boarding a bus. 

7.56am: We are herded by people in high-vis into one of what turns out to be three large marquees, lined up end to end. The queue inside these marquees snakes through all of them through a series of Disneyland-like switchbacks, except instead of Space Mountain, at the end of the hourlong queue you get to get on an overheated, crowded city bus. 

8.08am: I get this notification on my phone, which is such an incredible amount of shade for an inanimate object, I can't help but be impressed.

9.12am:  I finally get on a bus. This is a journey that takes about 25 minutes (without traffic), so surely my transport woes are nearly over. I'll be late, but less than an hour late, because at least there aren't any problems with the road networ...

Oh. Cool. 

10.09am: Finally get off the bus and breathe fresh air, begin walking through the city to work. At least now I'll be able to get a tram...

 ... Except that protesters have blocked Swanston Street, so trams can't get through. What an excellent day for a protest, when people are very receptive to messages from people making their already nightmarish commutes even worse. 

10.36am: Arrive at work, a cool hour and 36 minutes late and more than three hours after leaving my house. It's going to be a loooong April. 

It's all in service of a good cause, as someday we will have fancy new train stations and way less congestion in the city loop. Someday.  

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