Tipping Points in Public Transport Modal Share?

I was reading through an old post on Peter Parker’s excellent blog about service frequency and its capacity to change travel behaviour; and it got me thinking about the marginal modal share return to increases in service provision. Here, quality is fairly broadly defined – I’m basically looking at a combination of frequency, ease of use, comfort, etc. Working out how patronage and modal share respond to investment in better quality public transport is an important factor in determining the optimal level (and nature) of the investment and the consequent service standard provided.

Current government policy is to make small, incremental improvements to public transport and hope that more people use it, both in actual trips made and as a proportion of total trips (modal share). This was a big part of Melbourne 2030 – government policy was for 20% of motorised trips to be taken by public transport by 2020, basically a doubling of its modal share. Now given that total trips are increasing – largely because the population is growing and employment is increasing – we will expect to see public transport patronage to increase even when it’s treading water in modal share.

So why did the government set such an ambitious target backed up by only moderate levels of investment. There are two explanations that immediately come to mind: firstly, that they were never serious about 20% by 2020 (probably the truth); secondly, that their expectations of marginal returns to investment with respect to modal share were that it was more or less constant. This would see every extra dollar spent on improving the quality of public transport improving modal share by the same amount every time. This is represented graphically below:

So has this happened? Whilst patronage on Melbourne’s public transport – and especially the trains – has been increasing substantially, the modal share for public transport has been going nowhere. Basically, the investment hasn’t done much to improve modal share.

An alternative Explanation?

Clearly, the state government’s story doesn’t explain what’s driving transport habits in Melbourne (pun intended). I’d propose an alternative explanation – modal share isn’t going anywhere because public transport ultimately has to compete with the car. Even though there’s been investment in public transport, and an argument could be made that the quality has improved slightly over the past decade, modal share isn’t going anywhere because public transport simply isn’t as convenient as the car for many trips. For modal share to increase substantially, public transport has reach the point where it is a better quality service than a car. This is the tipping point I alluded to in the title. This is expressed graphically below:

So, what are the implications if we accept this idea? Well, basically it means that public transport investment needs to be targeted to meet the needs of drivers rather than looking at public transport in a vacuum. An empirical example would be the Metropolitan Bus Upgrade Program, where lots of money has been put into upgrading bus frequency and operating hours. But if a bus route has been upgraded from an hourly frequency to a half hourly frequency (making it twice as good), there’s still no reason why choice passengers will use it – it’s still not as good as a car. Until they reach the tipping point where they are as efficient (from a user perspective) as cars, buses are unlikely to be a roaring success.

It’s not all doom and gloom and you don’t necessarily need vast sums of money to get anywhere – small improvements can make a difference and big improvements needn’t be that expensive (improving off peak rail frequency for instance). I suppose my point is that policymakers need to be mindful of what the investment is targeting and how it affects quality relative to its competitors. Spending $1billion on Myki won’t get us much closer to that modal share tipping point, but spending $1billion on frequency upgrades probably would.

For a most interesting in depth look at providing quality public transport, have a look at this document from Canada, kindly sent to be by Jason.


41 Responses

  1. I like your graph above. But i’d nuance the conclusion you draw. Building PT’s muscles so it can duke it out with car owners round by round, trip by trip, may add only marginal value.

    Getting PT to the point where it is better than the *variable cost* of operating a car for a certain journey might
    1. involve high fixed costs
    2. improve social welfare only by the margin PT is better than cars
    3. distort PT investment decisions towards commuter trips

    whereas getting pt to the point where it is better than the *total cost* of owning a car might
    1. involve making better use of existing infrastructure (e.g. at non-peak times – late night trips are a key reason to buy a car)
    2. lock in commuters for all sorts of trips, allowing long-run growth in patronage and market share in complementary services like taxis, grocery delivery, etc.
    3. free people from the fixed cost of owning a car, potentially making them much better off.
    4. have commuters face the true cost of each trip, meaning transport use is closer to socially optimal levels

    … these ideas are just babies at the moment, but on a regimen of counter-argument, testing and refinement i think they can grow big and strong… let me know what you think!

  2. Another thing to look at is the speed of trains.

  3. Well actually Tom fixing the speed of trains is one of the most expensive things you can do and I would say Phin is recommending other options. If you do go for train speeds, fix the following first:
    -unnecessary pointwork
    -signalling problems
    -insufficient terminating or platform space
    -track condition

    I fully endorse Phin’s approach. Just be careful Phin, we’ve already had Mees sent to Siberia for what he’s said and we don’t want a good blogger having to write this stuff from a gulag.

    This ‘public transport could be cheaply improved’ theme is clearly seditious in some circles!

  4. The metropolitan bus upgrades are more upgrading them to a “minimum” standard rather than anything useful. Most of the routes upgraded on a Sunday, for example, start around 9 or 10am and run hourly until around 9pm through back streets. Hence the name “minimum standards” – the bare minimum in case if you have no other choice but to use PT.

    Train speeds are generally OK (but not great, either) – I see the main issue being rail lines trying to service every suburb from Officer to Hawthorn, Seaford to Glenhuntly or Tecoma to Burnley in the same fashion when two tiers are needed.

  5. Whoops – meant Officer to Hawksburn, not Hawthorn.

  6. It’s fine to say that PT is being incrementally upgraded and this may deliver extra pax, but in the meantime, roads/car funding is also busy raising the convenience threshold. And not just funding, policy too – witness the recent clearway extension in Melbourne (falsely sold as ‘also improving bus and tram times’). More people will drive knowing there will be fewer obstacles, leading to the same-old…

    Not saying roads should miss out, but the clearways extension is a pretty radical move, and except perhaps for the baby step of the 401 bus, there’s no obvious recent equivalent in the PT world.

    PT already beats cars at peak hour for many commuters (over the ‘tipping point’), but the clearways is a regressive step to bring the balance back to cars.

    A similarly cost-neutral (or low cost) measure for PT might be to add a few extra bus-only lanes (why is it only intermittent on Victoria Pde and Hoddle?), tram clearways etc, speeding up these modes relative to cars, and potentially allowing additional services too.

  7. I am talking about the timetabling of modern trains to red rattler timetables.

  8. And what difference does that make Tom?

  9. Tom, I don’t think they run the trains deliberately slow.

    But some of the red-rattler ttimetables come from red-rattler era infrastrucute and practices.

    If the Dandenong line had a 90km speed rather than 80kms, you would probably lose 3 minutes on every express journey. If a turn up and go service of 3 minutes was provided you would then save a whole set and driver roster.

    But to get 90kms you don’t need to do anything to the straight track – it is the same grade of track used on any number of main lines. It is the signalling, the trackwork, the platform layouts and the odd patch of poor maintenance that keeps the speed low.

    And speed is nothing if reliability is not increased. I see Vline trains that can do 160kms crawling through Murrumbeena because of delays at Caulfield junction.

    The junction is therefore the problem, not the trains or plain track.

  10. Dave good points but not sure we can promote PT on existing lines during peak hour.

    The sort of traffic that needs promoting is:

    -short outer journeys

    where capacity is not yet full

    There’s not much incentive to catch the trian from Pakenham to Dandenong at the moment although the capacity exists.

  11. Riccardo, agree that peak has limited capacity and that we should be encouraging shoulder/offpeak/contra journeys.

    However, the clearways extension bugs me because it’s increasing convenience in shoulder times for cars, while despite ample opportunity for similar measures to be taken with PT there has been no innovation.

    The clearways is clearly a rushed measure; witness the changing of consultation laws to allow it to pass in Parliament quickly. I can’t remember the last time such measures were invoked for PT, much less really encourage shoulder usage (except the Early Bird tickets, I guess, but they’re kind of handicapped by not having an afternoon equivalent (making a monthly cost much the same, with greater convenience).

  12. Thanks Dave, agree about clearways – it is a kneejerk reaction and the only good news is that it won’t make much difference, the traffic will be back to a crawl in no time and all the government has done is make more enemies.

    Early birds appear a ham-fisted attempt at a good idea. Not sure why the tickets had to be ‘free’ – a layered discount would have been better (and I thought, one of the reasons you have these machines). Smartcards would make it very easy to give incremental $1 refunds off standard journeys if you pass by 7:30, 8:00am whatever.

    It’s the shoulder peak services that are the problem. Dandny line, for example, is still doing good trade at 18:30 and 19:00. No good encouraging people to travel at these times without a frequency boost.

    I still get the impression that the powers that be think that getting train drivers clocked off and home is more important than getting passengers home – and having trains sleeping soundly in their sidings.

    Obviously the operational managers sleep less soundly at night worrying about labour costs than they do about meeting passenger needs.

  13. They do run the trains to timetables for the red rattlers and not the modern trains with their better acceleration and braking.

  14. Counteracting the improved accel/decel of the newer trains is likely the increased dwell times, at least in peak, owing to passenger crowding. Thus the ‘powers that be’ probably prefer to leave some extra margin in there, instead of moving towards a service standard (as espoused by Riccardo) rather than worrying about -1/+6 timetabling.

    On a side note, and kind of related to the blog topic, I had a great ‘turn up and go’ experience on all forms PT (tram and train, for me) tonight, until I got most of the way home, and it being after 6pm, the tram went back to 15-20 min frequency, and I just missed it… People are still getting home from work after 6 still need suburban connections to maintain convenience factor and enlarge a station’s catchment!! Still, I’m only preaching to the converted here : )

    With petrol apparently at record highs today, and Nelson’s idiotic 5c/l cut (“Nelson having about as much influence as a shopper-docket”, a letter to The Age read…) unlikely to help any, I don’t see PT share going backwards, but without increased convenience etc PT’s chance to capture increased share could be lost, because no-one wants to be crowded onto an infrequent service.

  15. Many thanks for the comments all.

    Jason, I basically agree with all of it. The variable/total cost issue should lead us to look at low hanging fruit ripe for the taking. I know I always talk about but off peak frequencies are the big one here. Getting better pricing (for both roads and PT) is also very sensible. That shouldn’t rule out government funding though, because I think it would it would be very tricky to effectively price all the externalities properly.

    Tom, while I don’t totally agree on the need for higher line speed across the board, I think you make a fair point about timetabling insofar as that it currently isn’t fully optimised for maximum service provision.

    Riccardo has blogged a lot about this (I’d recommend reading the Pakenham series), and the upshot is that he finds that timetabling hasn’t really been looked at holistically for many years, and that you could fit lots more in with targeted infrastructure improvements.

    Riccardo, I don’t know if you’re a Seinfeld fan, but the idea of the state government sending me to a gulag reminds me of the episode ‘The Package’ where George and Jerry argue over who is more bombable. A very funny episode…

    On a more serious note, I think you’re spot on with the line speed issue. Getting total trip time down is the key, which means getting average wait time down. Higher line speed would be good, but if the money required could get enough trains and drivers to get 10tph all day, then that’s probably a better investment.

    On the ticket cost issue, I admit to having been sceptical in the past (largely because I place a high value on simplicity in a ticketing system), but I’m slowly coming around to higher prices for premium trips and lower prices at lower demand times. If myki ends up working, price modulation could be readily expanded.

    Somebody, agree that the bus improvements were really nothing more than a welfare measure, also agree re. the need to two tier running.

    Dave – you’re absolutely right about car quality not being stationary either. As cars have been getting better and better, the onus is on PT to remain a viable alternative in the face of the competition – this means a steeper increase in the quality of service. I think we’re already at the tipping point on inner city trams and on some peak hour line haul rail, offpeak is where a lot of effort should be targeted (as we’ve all suggested!.

    thanks again for the comments, really enjoying the discussion.

  16. Higher line speeds would mean that trains get to cover a line in a shorter amount of time meaning more trains can run with the same number of trains and drivers. The only extra cost would be slightly more electricity and maybe a bit more mantenence.

  17. Excellent post, Phin.

    Finding the exact shape of that curve and the tipping point service frequency would probably be a good candidate for Masters or PhD research.

  18. Hi Tom, you have a point, but it depends what part of the system you are talking about.

    If you are talking about the Ballarat line for example, then journey time can be seriously reduced. If the Velocities did close to their 160km/h top speed most of the journey, I suspect a 40 minute journey time would be possible. This would put a serious dent in road traffic from Ballarat CBD to Melbourne CBD.

    But would it make a serious dent in overall end-to-end journey times for people in greater Melbourne and greater Ballarat?

    As long as the other components of end-to-end journey time remain poor (connections, bus-rail interchange, reliabilithy) I doubt even this time would make much difference.

    No good trying to get from Glen Iris to Sebastapol by public transport in a way competitive with car, until other aspects of the journey improve.

    Consider that journey. Glen Iris adds ten minutes to the freeway journey as compared to a CBD origin. Sebastapol might add 10 minutes at the other end. So take your best freeway journey time (70 minutes) and add 20 – you get 90 minutes.

    Now your best journey time from Glen Iris to Southern Cross is unlikely to be below 20 minutes. There you go, already lost 10 minutes of the advantage. The bus is likely to leave Ballarat station to Sebastapol 10 minutes minimum after arrival, and there you go, just lost another 10 minutes of the advantage. Then the bus takes 15 minutes. Another 5 minutes lost. The minimum recommended time for transferring from GWY to Ballarat at Southern Cross would be 15 minutes. At the moment you have to buy another ticket, go to the ticket box. Another 15 minutes advantage lost.

    Not looking so good. Reliability at North Melbourne could take another 5 minutes. You’ve lost 60 minutes overall of advantage and now the train is 10 minutes slower than the car end-to-end, even with the train belting it out up the Werribee Gorge.

    The ratio of CBD-CBD: total end-to-end journey time is 40:100 or only 40% of the journey relates to the fast bit. And we haven’t even looked at the frequency of the fast train!

    Now your point about utilisation is good – but that’s the operator’s point of view, not the passengers’.

    And the other point relates to what priority would you give this work over other work that would produce immediate benefits?

    This improvement might be another 500 million more, which according to Phin’s costings, should get you a Whittlesea line, and probably a East Cranbourne extension thrown in, for thousands of ordinary suburban commuters crying out for such a line.

  19. All it needs is for the timetable to be rewriten with inter-station travel times that are now possible with the current trains on the network so it should not cost too much or take much time and would free up trains and drivers for frequency increases.

    Melbourne has the slowest trains in Australia.

  20. Tom, post some examples. I’m very surprised to learn Melbourne is – Sydney would be much worse, especially after the deliberate padding of the timetable.

    I think you’ll find the limitations are a:

    -signalling and level crossing predictor speeds
    -timetable padding

    For an example, look at the places that have velos on them, but under the wire eg Keilor Plains to Watergardens. What is the limitation here for a velo? It isn’t the track, which is not much different from the section beyond Watergardens. It is the signalling and the need to fit in with suburban sets that can’t do 160km/h no ,matter how you flog them.

    And most of the all stations suburban times would be affected by peak dwell times and junction congestion.

    I would be all for increasing the speeds tomorrow, if it was possible, but Tom, it wouldn’t do much for the passengers as I’ve demonstrated, and there are higher priorities.

  21. Sorry if you’re all board about my discussion with Tom. I think the thing to realise is that if the benefits of higher speed were entirely captured by the operator, then wouldn’t they spend their own money to achieve it? If Connex, for example, had been able to cut the number of drivers dramatically by increasing line speeds without spending money, wouldn’t they do it?

    And I think a lot of us are interested in how the passenger experiences the service, not how the operator improves its own bottom line (though that is interesting too!)

    BTW Phin, can recommend the Kevin Spacey film 21 – a change watching Americans who respect knowledge and use it. Bit of conditional probability in it too – I once had an economics supervisor who used to get excited about Bayes – would literally jump around the lecture theatre stage when talking about applying Bayes theorum to his models.

  22. I read the Canadian paper – good, although hard to imagine service quality improvements in the current set up. Some of the trains need to actually do their job, carry people rather than worrying about seats and so on.

    In my own honours thesis I looked at service quality as only non-vehicle attibutes, eg frequency

    I do worry if the oil price did fall, PT usage would fall quicker than in the past because people have bad memories

  23. At least there’s no indication of a petrol price fall until 2011, according to the last report I read….

    Now the govt has to actually get public pressure to put money into PT, instead of fiddling with excise and the like.

  24. My initial impressions of this blog, and of riccardo’s are that they cover a lot of “engineering questions.” e.g. new lines, new rails on existing lines, track quality. Not exclusively, but significantly. As an economist these are questions I find extremely interesting but have very little perspective on, i must admit.

    I am interested to find out if these questions emerge as a result of first-principles examination of travelers needs.

    Just as focussing on train speed misses the whole end-to-end journey time, there may be a risk of looking at PT as a system and applying engineering style optimisation solutions that, for example, improve end-to end journey time, but don’t provide the largest increase in demand/patronage. (I’m not trying to say this is what is happening, just asking).

    the reason for posting the canadian paper, and for talking about designing a PT system that could drive people to not buy cars, is to see if the answers to these questions are the same as what is already being discussed.

    I guess another aspect to this is asking what the goal is of the various solutions proposed on the pages of this blog… obviously everyone is talking about travelers needs. What i am asking then is “which travelers?” “which needs?”.

    I don’t want to make a value judgment about what is most valuable, and am personally very keen to hear other’s views… hopefully a discussion of first principles would be valuable to other newcomers to these issues as well.

  25. Jason, I agree that many of the solution here are engineering based. However, if you look at Riccardo’s and Phin’s blog, many of the engineering projects act to reduce end-to-end journey time (something which the car is competitive or superior in, except at the worst of peak) but also to increase other factors like frequency (which reduces average e-to-e time, and also perceived ‘dead’ time, while Riccardo particularly has blogged about possibilities of first/premium services (and pricing for) to capture the current business/premium traveller which would always opt for a car at present.

    I’ve started reading the Canadian paper, when I’ve finished it I’ll comment some more! : )

  26. Thanks Jason. I agree with you, engineering solutions are not usually the best way of coming up with improvements to the status quo – the point I was trying to make to Tom.

    Or small-scale engineering, as melbourneontransit would point out – moving pedestrian crossings, platform entrances and so on.

    Service quality and service standard make the best difference to the ‘marginal’ passenger, and the non-marginal (entrenched driver) won’t be impressed by PT until a rolls-royce quality bus drives to his door on demand, and takes him to his TGV for his 300km/h ride to his destination.

    I think one point to make is a lot of entrenched drivers love their cars, and treat them as a cross between a pet and a hobby and it just also so happens to be a way to get to work.

    A lot of this love of cars was generated by car companies and if the railways had been so effective at doing the same (as they have in Japan) they might not have copped it so bad.

    On my own blog my aim is to provide most of the explanations where possible from the customer perspective. Of course, a few can’t do that, or most of the benefits accrue to the operator rather than the passenger.

    I think this was Tom’s point – wanting to discuss a benefit that would accrue mostly to the operator.

    The problem here is that taking the operator’s perspective (and the unions) has not served the system well to date so why continue this line of thinking?

    I would definitely support first/premium pricing for time of travel and quality of travel.

    If you remember your economics, the concepts of economic rent, consumer and producer surplus and price discrimination.

    With the market price for travel being P and the Quantity Q, and demand elasticity somewhat normal, you would be able to capture a significant piece of consumer surplus above P by offering a product only marginally more expensive to produce than the existing product (since these people were prepared to pay P^ for the existing product, it is perfectly rational for them to pay P^ for a product that is only slightly more costly to produce but is noticeably better quality) – an implied “quality of supply” curve rather than “price of supply” which is very elastic.

    If we look at the Comeng trains, for example, quality might mean putting back the comfortable seats, say full height seats like a Sprinter, and fit the spare driver’s compartments with a passenger toilet and drinking fountain like in Sprinters, and say you ran this train to the outer limits say Mel-Caul-Dandy and all to Pakenham, I would say your operational cost is not much higher – water servicing once a day spread across a 18 hour day, the capital cost of the seats spread across a ten year life, no loss of capacity.

    You would get a whole lot of people who don’t want to be crammed in (and take the pressure off Vline to offer a service to these people).

    Whether you got many more on to rail than the ‘marginal’ road customer, I can’t say, but it would with worth a survey or two I think.

  27. Another interesting discussion. Thanks for the Canadian paper, there’s some good reading in it. That VTPI site has a lot of resources.

    As for what drives people to take cars over PT, I have my own suspicions. Better PT options could get some people across the divide but some people won’t be budged from their automobiles. As Ricardo said, some people treat their cars as pets and the others? I suspect they just don’t like other humans. Trains might not be 5 star but people will still drive some fairly crappy cars instead. Some people are just addicted to having their own personal space.

    As far as an economic view goes, wouldn’t it be easier to start from the other side? Instead of (or maybe as well as) spending on PT to make it more attractive, make cars less attractive. The planet is doing its part by running out of oil, even Eddington suggested congestion charging. Throw in the true cost of road use and rail becomes a much nicer proposition.

  28. Sorry for posting the same post twice, it had not come through and I though it may have been me not posting it properly.

    Increasing train speeds would be benificial to Passengers as well, for reasons I have already mentioned. I am not saying this should be the only step taken but that it is an easy and quick step to make a small improvement.

  29. Is it an easy and quick step to raise train speeds though? Surely if it were that easy, it would already have been done. From the jolting I feel already, I suspect a lot of track and pointwork needs upgrading to permit higher line speeds….

  30. I am talking mostly about having trains speed up faster to the existing speed limits instead of being constrained by past restrictions that are no longer there (the power to weight ratio of trains no longer used (Swing-door Tait and Harris)).
    Many of these sections of track havew express trains at these speeds or higher.

    Increasing the speed limits through track upgrades is a longer term but still useful project.

  31. The only way to grow modal share is to massively increase service hours and frequency to all modes of mass transport.

    Also its time that Melbourne talk about its system as MASS TRANSPORT Not public transport. Ie planned to include all and allow modal shift from cars to mass transport. For a city to function without extreme congestion the mass transport modal share needs to be at least 70% of all trips city wide.

    Frequency upgrades like outlined below are important to allowing this modal shift to occur.

    The Current rail system in melbourne needs to be converted over to a modern high frequency metro system. Ie 2 mins at peak 5 min off peak/weekend and 10 min late night. This conversion would mean all current lines would become metros the sole exception would be berwick to paknamham which would be converted to DMU operation every 10 mins at peak and every 15 mins off peak connects with metro at berwick.

    The Smartbus routes need to have limited stop buses “rapid bus” operating though out the day at least every 5 mins at peak and every 10 mins off peak. These limited stop buses only make stops at universities, shopping centres, tramways, and where other major bus services intersect the service. This allowing a tighter timetable and shorter runing times on the “rapid bus”

    Bus and Tram service freqency standards for the whole of melbourne except minor feeder routes.

    Weekdays Monday to Friday.

    4am to 5am every 10 mins, 5am to 10am every 3 mins, 10am to 3pm every 6 mins, 3pm to 8pm every 3 mins, 8pm to 11pm every 10 mins 11pm to 1am every 15 mins.

    Friday night: 11pm to 4am every 15 mins.

    Weekends and Public hoildays:

    4am to 6am every 10 mins, 6am to 8pm every 6 mins 8pm to 11pm every 10 mins 11pm to 1am every 15 mins.

    Saturday night and eve of public holiday: 11pm to 4am

    This standard needs to be applied to all smartbus routes, Eastern Expressway routes and all main road services.

    Then maybe the buses in Melbourne will be viewed as high frequency service like the trams.

    Also the upgraded system needs to be heavily promoted to all users on a wide range of media and not just for a week or two but for a number of years. The advertising needs to be effective and make a good case to car users why mass transport is a better choice.

  32. I’d be interested in others views of what service hours PT should run in Melbourne

    I’ve assumed till midnight (when the carriages turn back into pumpkins) to allow for maintenance but of course on multi-track routes, and on Friday and Saturday nights it might be possible to go later.

    For example, you could work on Richmond to Caulfield one track at a time, leave two for a buffer from the works, and then run one track outbound only for a couple of trains at say 1am, 2am, 3am and 4am. Assuming you didn’t turn the power off.

    Trams you could run all night – maintenance tends to be more localised and straightforward and you just run the trams via alternative routes and with bustitution if required.

    Buses of course have no limit on when they can run and their capital cost is best recovered if they run as much as possible (with of course the necessary down time for maintenance).

    I would also like to see midnight to dawn only taxi permits sold (these taxis could be forced to be a distinctive colour so you would know they shouldn’t be aronud in daytime). I regard taxis as good value for an evening out (if you are spending that much on everything else, a taxi is worth it) but they are not meeting demand.

  33. I think the last train should be leaving the CBD ~12.30 or so during the week (Sun-Wed), and probably 1.30 thurs and pretty much all night Fri and Sat (maybe on the hour after 12.30 – easy to remember). The nightrider bus system is not easily grasped for a non-regular – different routes, etc. If they’re not running the trains it should be nightriders every 0.5/1hr on the train routes, or close enough to.

    Trams run hours as above more or less already, just not the all night bit Fri/Sat. I think inadequate after-hours PT is one of the reasons the 2am lockout thing was instituted – people hang around until 5.30, or get aggro because they can’t get a cab – either way, it causes problems.

    The midnight-dawn taxi might work, I’d be getting the upholstery in vinyl though…

  34. Thaitransit, although not strictly related to the original topic of this, commuter rail has it’s use and commuting every current service out into the sticks into a metro which would be appropriate for inner suburban areas is not the solution. As I have said before, metro would be appropriate for the inner tier on major lines (and some entire lines) to places up to about 30mins out, followed by commuter rail to the outer suburban sprawl.

    New York City only achieves 50% of it’s trips by subway & bus (many of the rest are by foot) so I don’t see Melbourne ever achieving 70%.

  35. On the subject of service hours, IMO the Monday-Saturday operation hours of trains & trams in Melbourne are fine as-is. I’m divided if overnight services are required everywhere.

    Sundays are a joke though – at the time when the first trains are leaving the CBD in Melbourne (8am) it will have already been light for up to three hours depending on time of year. Even Adelaide’s first train to Gawler Central will have terminated before the first train to Greensborough has left Flinders Street & CityRail’s first train to Penrith will have completed it’s trip while the driver of the first service to Werribee is still in bed.

    Not to mention the appalling service frequencies (30min for trams / 30-40min for trains) until about 10-11am.

  36. done this on my blog if you’re interested


  37. Have to disagree with somebody, who posted that late night frequencies are fine. I do shift work and see the fairly large movements of people that take place in the early hours of the morning.
    Most shift work finishes after midnight, the arbitrary end of the day, or starts from 4 am onwards. 7 days a week.
    Thats our city. If PT worked, I would use it. For me, for work, there is no option.

  38. “Steve”, please do not put words in my mouth. Where did I say anything about FREQUENCIES? I commented on OPERATING HOURS, which is completely different.

  39. apologies, a slip of the keyboard… You are quite correct, operating hours are the issue for those of my ilk.

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