Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Public transport use hits all-time high

by Clay Lucas
Squeeze ... Melbourne's public transport patronage is experiencing 'extraordinary' growth.

Squeeze ... Melbourne's public transport patronage is experiencing 'extraordinary' growth. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

More than 200 million people travelled on Melbourne's trains between 2007 and 2008, according to Premier John Brumby.

- Rising patronage
- 'Extraordinary' growth
- Overcrowded services

Unveiling new train, tram and bus patronage figures on North Melbourne station this morning, Mr Brumby said the growth of passengers on public transport in the last few years had been "extraordinary''.

There were 201.2 million trips on trains in Melbourne in the 2006-07 financial year, 158.3 million trips on trams, and 91.3 trips million on buses.

The growth in public transport patronage was up 7.7% on the previous year.

Mr Brumby hailed the increase in passenger numbers as a sign of success for Victoria, even if there was pressure on travellers who boarded overcrowded services.

"This is the first time we've ever had more than 200 million Victorians use our rail system (in a year),'' Mr Brumby. "In the last year alone, there have been something like 25 million extra passenger trips.''

The Premier was accompanied by Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky; both arrived by train. Ms Kosky's train arrived on time; the Premier's train was two minutes late.

Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said Mr Brumby and Ms Kosky had chosen to visit North Melbourne because there were fewer passengers coming through it than Richmond station, Melbourne's other main rail hub outside the CBD.

"John Brumby and Minister Kosky would not be game to show up at Richmond station where eight of Melbourne's 15 electrified train lines operate through, compared with five lines through North Melbourne and two through Jolimont,'' Mr Mulder said.

"The Cranbourne, Frankston and Pakenham lines have not once in the past 13 months met Labor's punctuality benchmark of no more than 8% of trains being six minutes or more late,'' he said.

On the Pakenham line, 13.9% of trains were at least six minutes late in July.

On the Frankston line, 13.1% were more than six minutes late, and on the Cranbourne line, 11.9%.

Mr Mulder said trains ran at their latest during weekday peak hours.

"When Melburnians are trying to get to work, or get home to see their families, they are being thwarted by John Brumby's `too little, too late' approach to investment in vital rail infrastructure,'' Mr Mulder said.

In the seven months from January to July this year, there were 4044 suburban trains cancelled, including 361 services in July.

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" increase in numbers as a sign of success for Victoria..." Jeez... doesn't he realise that quite a few people who read The Age also watch 'The Hollowmen'?

I'm thinking the spiralling digits on the petrol pump may have had a little bit to do with it, perhaps? It's certainly not the quality of service!

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