A Herald Sun article last week quoted figures showing that ditching cars and switching to PT could save you between $4,000 and $10,000 per year. (Seriously, it’s not just fuel — if you take into account finance, rego, insurance and repairs, it adds up fast.)
Problem is that somewhere in the sausage factory that is the media’s editing process, the reason for the PTUA pointing this out was lost. It’s no use telling people to ditch their cars if all they have is crap PT. It’s up to governments to provide a viable alternative, and as new figures showing Sunday bus patronage up 44% proves, when the PT option is there, people actually use it.
Separately, a new study called Unsettling Suburbia notes the outer suburbs are suffering through car dependence.
So what does it take to get lots of people willingly out of their cars? There’s a bunch of things (which even have a nifty acronym: SCARCE — standing for Safety, Comfort, Accessibility, Reliability, Cost and Efficiency), but the number one is waiting times. If the waiting time is too long (and at present it’s often more than the total travel time by car), then people will keep driving.
And it’s not just a matter of providing frequent services into the CBD and inner-suburbs, during peak hours. As the Unsettling Suburbia report notes, that’s already pretty much in place, and PT dominates that market. The problem is all the other trips — around the burbs, and outside peak hours. Little wonder that with only around 15% of Melbourne’s population going into the CBD on a typical working day, cars dominate for other trips.
No, what we need is a whole network of frequent services, running seven days a week, and into the evening, so you can travel from anywhere to anywhere, at most times of day, without having to wait. In other words, genuinely competitive with car travel.
And that’s what’s behind the call for services “every 10 minutes to everywhere” — trams, trains, and main road buses running every 10 minutes, right across Melbourne.
(If the animation’s already stopped, Right Click and select Play to play it again.)
Every 10 minutes is often enough that you’ll never wait very long, even without checking timetables.
Every 10 minutes is often enough that even if you walk to the stop and just miss the bus/tram/train, another one will pick you up in less time than it takes to go back and get your car.
Every 10 minutes means operators don’t have to work hard at trying to co-ordinate good connections between services, because you’ll never wait very long anyway, no matter where you’re travelling.
And interestingly, every 10 minutes is about how many buses you need to carry 20% of the passenger load of the typical suburban 2-lane arterial road. In other words, to reach the government’s own 20% target, they need to run services every 10 minutes!
It’s also not as expensive as it might sound, because most of the rail/tram infrastructure and fleets are in place. The major cost is extra buses, and more drivers… and even that is small compared to the 18+ billion dollars worth of major transport projects proposed by the Eddington report.
It’s the type of thing needed to get people to happily reduce the number of cars in their household, and not suffer for it. On the contrary, everyone would benefit economically, there’d be reduced traffic congestion, and a big cut in transport-related emissions.
- Campaign web site: Every 10 Minutes to Everywhere.