Sunday, August 17, 2008

Trains just as packed despite extra services -

by Melissa Fyfe and Reid Sexton

THE Brumby Government's efforts to ease the commuter squeeze on Melbourne's train system have failed, with extra services achieving no reduction in overcrowding.

The Sunday Age understands that Connex's latest survey of train passenger overcrowding, which the Transport Department has yet to release, shows a rise in "load breaches" — more than 798 passengers in a six-carriage train is a breach.

In April, the State Government introduced an extra 105 services to the weekly timetable but, only a month later, the survey found the number of overcrowded trains had risen. "The new services were just gobbled up by the increases in patronage growth," a transport source said.

The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures on social trends show public transport usage in Melbourne is growing faster than in any other capital city, with Melburnians' patronage of the rail network surging by 30% in three years.

In the decade to 2006, the proportion of adults using public transport for work and study leapt by 35% to 300,500 — almost triple the rate of growth in Sydney and higher than in Brisbane, which experienced a 22% rise in public transport usage...

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