The government may be embarassed by crowded trains and Myki, but what they should be embarassed about is the sheer number of people who never use public transport because it simply isn’t a viable option for them for any of the trips they make.
So many areas in Melbourne have no PT other than local buses, and most of these run only every 30-60 minutes. It’s no wonder so few people use them and roads are clogged.
Channel 7 interviewed people in the aptly named Transit Place in Tarneit — their only PT is the 444 bus running every 40 minutes — for their views on outer-suburban transport. The report aired on Friday:
I compared some trips from Transit Place to major centres in the west, as well as the CBD, in the Metlink Journey Planner (eg by public transport, in the middle of the day on a weekday) to Google Maps trip planner (by car). The latter is always optimistic, and assumes little or no traffic, but it shows just how poorly the area is served for PT.
Trip to Werribee: PT 45 mins (via Hoppers Crossing); car 20 mins
Trip to Sunshine: PT 84-89 mins (via Hoppers Crossing and Footscray!); car 30 mins
Trip to Flinders St: PT 80-84 mins (via Hoppers Crossing); car 32 mins
And remember, the Journey Planner times are designed so you walk out the door just in time to catch the local 444 bus. On the way home again, you may have to wait up to 39 minutes if you just miss one.
Despite what Graham Currie says, it’s not just low income earners who feel the stress of having to drive everywhere. Many families have multiple cars in the driveway by neccesity, and for each vehicle it’s costing them thousands of dollars a year more than it would if they had useable PT that could replace some of those cars.
You can’t necessarily build rail lines into every suburb, but expanding the successful Smartbus services, offering frequent connections to major destinations, would go a long way to giving more people the option of using PT.
It’s great to see the media giving this issue an airing.