One of the key tenets of Meeting Our Transport Challenges (MOTC), the State Government’s plan for Melbourne’s public transport system, was the construction of a third track between Caulfield and Dandenong. This project alone is expected to cost up to one billion dollars and will take a decade to complete delaying many other public transport projects.
Unfortunately the State Government has failed to examine simpler methods, such as a streamlined timetable and more efficient operations, which could be implemented in as little as six to twelve months.
Melbourne University transport expert Paul Mees said 11,000 people travelled to the city in the morning peak each weekday and the current number of services meant an average of 524 commuters were carried on each train. Dr Mees, who has prepared his own timetable with a more regular pattern of service, argues that if services were spread out across the peak, every passenger using the line would have a seat. It would also allow room for new suburban and V/Line services.
A consistent stopping pattern consisting of two train configurations, one express and one non-express pattern, as opposed to the current confusing mixture of numerous stopping patterns, would assist both passengers and rail schedulers through allowing a consistent and reliable level of service.
Public Transport Users Association vice-president Alex Makin applauded the idea of a simplified timetable. He said many commuters found the mix of express, part express or stopping-all-station services confusing. A repetitive timetable would allow the network to recover quickly if trains were late.
It is entirely unreasonable to expect Melbourne’s public transport users to wait up to ten years for a dramatic improvement in services, when far simpler options such as a reconfigured timetable could be considered in a much shorter timeframe and deliver greater benefits.