The Age (via the Australian Associated Press) has reported that Melbourne’s public transport has moved half a million Games spectators on top of its normal commuter load over the first five days of the Games.
Despite minor problems caused by delays and the archaic Metrol signalling system still used within Melbourne the system has performed reasonably well:
Alex Makin, from the Public Transport Users Association agreed the system, with an extra 30,000 services, had coped well with the pressure.
However, Mr Makin said the increased usage was not just by spectators and was proof the Games’ time table should be adopted permanently.
It is imperative that these additional services – and in the particular the evening 20 minute frequencies on the rail network (as opposed to half hourly) and increased evenings bus services are continued:
“What we have found on the bus network in particular is there’s a large number of regular commuters using those (extra) services,” Mr Makin said.
The SmartBus program which operates along Springvale, Blackburn and Warrigal Roads has clearly demonstrated that people will use public transport when the service is frequent, reliable and readily available.
“People will use public transport more when there are additional services provided,” he said.
Route 665 along Stud Road is the future Ringwood to Frankston SmartBus and one of the routes provided with additional evening services. This route is Melbourne’s seventh most highly patronised bus route yet it normally ceases operating at 7:45 pm. Given that this route will be upgraded as part of the SmartBus network these additional services will be required.
Likewise route 670 along Maroondah Highway, linking Ringwood with Chrinside Park, Croydon and Lilydale, has also been provided with evening services and travels along the main thoroughfare within Maroondah.
The government has shown that it has the budgetary capacity to improve public transport and retaining the improved evening services will finally allow the government to achieve progress towards to the goal of 20% public transport modal share by the year 2020.
Melbourne’s public transport must be expected perform at all times and not just when there is an international spotlight on Melbourne and the government.