From MX, Melbourne’s free afternoon commuter newspaper, 19/10/2005 page 1:
Trains in an instant
Trains would run every 10 minutes during peak hour on all lines under a radical plan to boost Melbourne’s public transport.
The Public Transport Users Association today called for a massive lift in train frequency to ease overcrowding in carriages and on the city’s roads.
As part of the group’s five-year plan for public transport, trains would also run every 15 minutes after peak hour until 9pm, including weekends. Services would then run every 20 minutes until midnight.
Some lines, including Upfield, Williamstown, Werribee and Cranbourne, only have trains every 20 minutes in peak hour.
PTUA president Daniel Bowen said most extra non-peak services could be run now.
But he said lines with single-track sections, such as Werribee, Epping and Hurstbridge, would need upgrades.
Bowen said the timetable changes would cost about $25 million a year, offset by extra fare revenue.
But Transport Minister Peter Batchelor rejected the plan, branding it a well-meaning budget buster.
He said the scheme would affect express services from the outer suburbs, with little benefit to passengers during non-peak times.
“Their costing assumptions are unrealistic,” Batchelor said today.
“And outside of peak hours there is already spare capacity to carry many more people on the rail network.”
Opposition Transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the scheme could see Melbourne echo the success of Perth’s 15-minute service on all lines.
“We think it’s an excellent idea. The only down side is some extra drivers would be needed and there will be some increased maintenance costs,” he said.
“The experience in Perth shows that if you have good connections between services people love to use them, because a pet hate is waiting around for connections.”
The full plan will be unveiled next week.
Naturally, lines already having peak services more frequent than 10 minutes would retain them. Good to see Terry Mulder come out in support of the idea, noting Perth’s success in improving its rail service.
Unfortunately Peter Batchelor misses the point. Lines that have expresses wouldn’t be affected, because they mostly already have peak services every 10 minutes or better. And to claim it wouldn’t help outside peak hours is to ignore the current overcrowded services (due in part to use of short trains on many lines). But in any case the purpose of more frequent off-peak/evening/weekend services would be to attract more users, not alleviate overcrowding.
The idea is to move the rail system towards the “just turn up, there’s a train within a few minutes” model seen in so many cities across the world, to make trains a “mode-of-choice” for more trips and encourage people out of their cars.
Not exactly rocket-science, I’d have thought. Nor that radical either.