Save thousands!

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.

Public transport share

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.

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18 Replies to “Save thousands!”

  1. I have read articles in both the Herald Sun and The Age today and the government does not want to listen to the people of Victoria. Rail extensions do even more than just getting people from point A to point B. I can go on about it for ages but I will cut myself short on a thesis. Apparently the ‘minister’ for Public Transport Lynne Kosky got on a train for the first time in her life, not her chauffuered ford. She copped an earful from a commuter on the Craigieburn line. I despise her. There is clearly a vested interest in transport with the government excluding Paul Mees and the PTUA from their transport planning and this Sir Rod Eddington report. People in the outer suburbs are struggling to put food on the table in order to fill their cars with petrol, and they have access to little or no trains, trams, or buses.

  2. Makes sense!
    Which is probably why it’ll go straight over Govt heads like a hairnet :P
    The only transport to my daughter’s house, a bus, runs once per hour on Saturdays and is a nightmare.

  3. Not much point asking people to take the train to work, then not providing sufficient parking space at the point of departure to accommodate those travellers. Mind you though the council does have sufficient manpower to fine those people who in desperation double-park at the station because they need to get to work.

    I am too gutless to do the double-parking thing so I drive the 50 kilometres to work rather than risk incurring a hefty fine.

    What’s even more irksome is to see the huge vacant lot outside the station not being put to use to accommodate the overflow.

  4. Ah yes, parking. No doubt about it, there’s a shortage of spaces. Unfortunately expanding station carparks is really expensive – the current upgrades are costing about $17,000 per space!

    One of the points of the 10 Minute plan is to get the buses connecting better with the trains, so less people need to drive to the station. Why bother paying for a car which sits in a carpark most of the day, if you can just walk to the end of the street and jump on a frequent bus which takes you to the station? It also means you can use the train even if you’re travelling after the morning peak hour, when the car parks are full.

  5. And a few more bus stops would help too – we live in the ‘burbs and our nearest bus stop is a 3km walk away. That’s fine for me to walk – but a pita to drag young kids along!

  6. Lynne Kosky’s so dumb
    Her braincells are numb
    The trains are delayed
    The bus schedules aren’t made.

    We listen to Sir Rod
    Who does nothing but plod
    Freeways are built here and there
    Political spin is just vapour and air

  7. The ten minute plan would make an already good system fantastic. There should be some service throughout the night too, perhaps once per hour or so. This would help those of us who have to be to work early in the morning and who get off late at night such as bakery workers like myself. Not everyone works 9 to 5 in the CBD. I sometimes have to be at work at 4 or 5 AM and luckely I can walk to work but I would need to use a car(or perhaps a bike)if I lived much further away. I do ride the tram down Chapel St. to save some walking when I have to be at work at 7 but there is no earlier service that would get me there on time.

  8. Spot On.
    I recently got a car after years of going without.
    I was wondering what I had spent all the savings on…but then I remembered how I used to get taxis everywhere because I couldn’t rely on public transport, or I didn’t want to wait. Bring on reliable PT.
    AH

  9. I readily believe that it costs $4,000 – $10,000 a year to run a car. We only have one family car for that reason plus environmental reasons. If buses were reliable, frequent and took the children & I where we needed to go easily, we would use our car pretty much only for trips to see my parents (who live a looong way away) and holidays / day trips. I’m not sure we could bring ourselves to get rid of the car altogether, but drop to using it only a couple of days a week? Definitely.

  10. I disagree that some reaches of the public transport system such as Hurstbridge (train), Flinders (bus), Cranbourne & Pakenham (train), etc really need a 10-minute service, well not just yet (and certainly not to the former 2 for some time)

    As to the main road buses – that gets a bit messy as so much of Melbourne has been planned with houses deep into back streets & the requirement for every house to be within 400m of public transport Hence the windy & infrequent suburban routes to satisfy that goal. Better off running them down main roads even if it means some people have a longer walk (to a much better service!)

  11. Jed: the inner-core of the current system is “good”. What this plan would do is bring that kind of service (but better) to the whole city + suburbs.

    Somebody: yes, in fact what it proposes is every 20 minutes such as the single line sections of the train network. Remembering that it’s not about fulfilling current demand, but sparking new demand. Every 10 minutes to Pakenham is justified, for instance, if you look at the amount of traffic on the Princes Hwy. The main road buses would be supplemented by less frequent feeder routes for those who can’t walk long distances. A lot of this detail is on the web site.

  12. My wife recently had occasion to catch a bus from Dandenong to Knox, and on inspection of the online timetables found that the bus had turned into a SmartBus, that ran from Frankston to Ringwood on 15 minute intervals over extended hours. At that spacing you can meet the bus asynchronously.
    And the bus had a reasonable number of people on board (middle of a working day).

  13. I love how those ‘SmartBus’ routes only have a hopeless 30-minute weekend service (when everybody wants to go shopping), and nothing more than a 15-minutely bus in the middle of peak hour.

  14. Also, looking at that PTUA link, I love how they want to extend suburban services from Frankston to *Baxter*. Hasn’t anybody from the PTUA ever visited Baxter!? There is far, far more at places past there i.e. Hastings (which needs far more than the current useless train)

    I think that is more a desire from a train foamer within the organisation to have trains running there to foam over at Langwarrin Bank, not as a public transport service ;-)

    BTW, I can’t help but laugh at the idea of extending the 82 tram to the CBD. It seems that the PTUA also has the same “everybody wants to go to the CBD” bug that most transport planners in Melbourne have ;-)

  15. Yeah, there’s not much at Baxter, but it’s a good spot to stop to ensure Monash Peninsula campus has decent trains, a better P+R location than Frankston, and as a point to later extend to Mornington. I guess you could go to Hastings, but if you’re going that far, you might as well go all the way to Stony Point.

    The 82 would link the inner-west to Docklands, though it’s true that given the existing bus along Footscray Rd, it’s not top of the list.

    I like the word “minutely”. It may not be a real word, but it’s clear and concise :-)

  16. yep, but as ITTM notes, P+R may be appropriate in outer-suburban locations for stations that are outside activity centres (eg where land is unwanted and cheap, and good feeder services genuinely aren’t viable).

    What I mean is operationally it’d hardly be worth running a diesel shuttle just from Hastings to Stony Point… though I suppose you could do it.

  17. Ahh, but these areas are becoming more suburbanised now. Sure somewhere like Hastings might need one for people driving in from smaller towns, while most/all passengers at Baxter would be coming from urban areas.

    As for Hastings – Stony Point, just run buses. Those places don’t need a rail service more than any other small town.

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