Robert Risson

As chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board between 1949–1970, Robert Risson played a critical role in saving Melbourne’s tram network from destruction, the way that happened in every other Australian city (almost uniformly to their modern-day regret). He had a successful military career before coming to run our tram network, and some have suggested that it was that militaristic efficiency that he applied to our trams that prevented politicians from being able to justify dismantling the system (much as they, and the right-wing newspapers, dearly wanted to). Part of these “efficiencies” did include some cuts, like the loss of nearly all of the Footscray local system, and the elimination of the line to Point Ormond in Elwood, but overall our tramways have survived relatively intact – something that can’t be said of systems in cities like Sydney (and their network was once bigger than ours!) or Brisbane.