So since I sold my car in March last year, I travel virtually exclusively by Train/Tram (mostly Train).
For those who never use them, Melbourne trains are changing. Since I started using them regularly about 8 years ago, they have changed markedly.
Weekend travel for instance. When I first started, the patronage can be best described as "Bogan Central". It really did appear that public transport at weekends was mostly bogans and drunks and rednecks. At least that's how it appeared to me. I didn't particularly like travelling by train at the weekend.
But as petrol prices have risen, and Melbournes population has grown, this appears to be changing, thankfully for the better. It's simply due to more and more people using trains at the weekends. People who never would have dreamt of it 8 years ago are now forced to either through economic circumstances, or it's simply easier to use the train. I know even if I did have a car (and this is one of the reasons I sold it) I would never dream of driving into the city, and certainly not parking there. It's much easier to jump on the train and get where I need to go.
Peak hour is another example. Again, due to rising petrol prices and other socio-economic reasons, patronage on peak hour trains has increased substantially. I always try not to catch a train after 8AM, as it's just Sardine City onboard. Also, trains seem to run on time (mostly) before 8AM, but after that, it's potluck if they are on time or not. If you have something you have to be on time for, it pays to leave with plenty of margin for lateness, delays sitting for what seems like hours in the Flinders Street Rail Yards, or the odd arrival at Platform 13 which requires a GPS and a knowledge of Stalactites to navigate.
The actual trip in however is fraught with peril. You have the crowd of St Kevin's schoolboys (who thankfully get off at Burnley). There's always the good old person on a mobile phone who seems to forget that most people don't care if somebody forgot to take the mince out of the freezer. And loud Ipod's are prevalent... though because most people have them, most people can't hear everybody elses. Heaven help the one poor sod who doesn't own an Ipod. (The Melbourne Reviewer does own an Ipod, but always tries to turn it down so that it's not audible to other commuters.)
But by far, the most annoying and offensive thing about travelling on Public Transport, at least to me, is The Whiff.
Last time I checked, there seemed to be an absolute plethora of Personal Hygiene products for sale at our supermarkets. There are also other merchants, such as chemists and pharmacies who sell soaps and body washes and things like that, all designed to keep the human body clean.
And, in my experience, most people do succeed. Not that I go around purposefully sniffing people, but if you are jammed up against others in a packed Comeng, it's always much nicer if you can't smell them.
Now, this is where I have to tread lightly. So I'll just say it. People of, shall we say, particular... extractions, well, the do tend to exhibit The Whiff much more so than those who aren't of those... extractions.
That's not to say you don't get it from all sorts. You do get the odd homeless dude who obviously hasn't showered since Big Brother 1 stumble onto the train in a seemingly genius effort to escape the city (though invariably he'll end up in a lockup somewhere out in the burbs).
But those of these particular... extractions, they do tend to emit certain unpleasant aromas on a more regular basis than others.
Recently we've had cab drivers and now oldies baring all at the Flinders street steps. Should we bare all for personal hygiene?
Would it be rude to loudly and jarringly say "Somebody on this train stinks!"? Who would be more embarrassed, me or the stinkee? Would it be offensive to carry a can of Rexona around for such emergencies?
Or should I just attempt to move away (as I have done in the past). Though on packed Sardine trains, this is easier said than done.
I guess in the end it just comes down to another one of the vagaries of Public Transport that you have to put up with. I'm not sure what conclusion we can come to except that we need to grin and bare it.
Meanwhile, beware of, The Whiff.