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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Maybe a "Perth style" PTA is the way to go.
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/05/30/1180205335525.html

On the rails to nowhere

Paul Mees
May 31, 2007

Melbourne must look overseas for inspiration if it wants improved public transport.

MELBOURNE has developed a new annual ritual to complement the AFL grand final and the Melbourne Cup. Every year, some eminent person or body releases a report lamenting the state of public transport in what used to be the world's most livable city. Stories are printed, letters written to editors, teeth gnashed and breasts beaten. After a few weeks, the fuss dies down and nothing changes, thus allowing the ritual to begin again the following year.

The 2007 Festival of Public Transport Lamentation was kicked off by the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, who released a report listing familiar woes, from crowded trains to the lack of new lines to outer suburbs. In accordance with tradition, he demanded action to address the problems without first analysing the causes. For example, his report called for a "co-ordinator-general", even though there has been a co-ordinator-general division in the Department of Infrastructure for almost a year.

Meanwhile, Perth's new southern railway is set to open on July 29. The line runs to Mandurah, 72 kilometres from the city centre (as far as North Geelong is from Melbourne), via a city tunnel featuring two underground stations. The trip will take 48 minutes, with trains every 10 minutes at peak times and 15 minutes at other times, but on the section running through Perth proper, trains will be twice as frequent. Each station has a purpose-built interchange at which buses will be fully integrated with train arrivals.

Perth's rail system carries five times as many passengers as 20 years ago; the New Metro Rail project, of which the Mandurah line forms part, will lift this ratio to eight or nine. New Metro Rail has gone from the drawing board to virtual completion in only four years, during which time Melbourne has seen a dozen reports urging rail upgrades, but no action.

Public transport in Perth is not perfect, but it has one feature that Melbourne conspicuously lacks. The Public Transport Authority of Western Australia is a competent, customer-focused public agency that handles the planning, integration and expansion of all modes of public transport.

The PTA runs Perth's trains itself and subcontracts bus services to private firms, but both modes form a single system planned centrally by the authority. When the Western Australian Government decides on the next expansion to Perth's rail system — probably a line to the airport — it need only find the money. The PTA can be trusted to deliver the rest.

In Melbourne, by contrast, government subsidies for public transport have doubled since 1999 without improving or significantly extending services. Instead, billions of dollars have disappeared into a maze of bureaucrats, private operators and byzantine contracts running to thousands of pages. The main function of this network of operators and regulators seems to be to consume ever-increasing subsidies, while asserting that no significant improvements to public transport will be possible for at least a decade.

The elephant in the Melbourne public transport room is privatisation. The franchise agreements with Connex and Yarra Trams expire in November next year, and the Government must decide what to do about them by November this year. If the contracts are not renewed or extended, public transport reverts to Government control, with compensation payable at the token rate of $1 per train or tram.

The Public Transport Minister, Lynne Kosky, is apparently being advised by h
er bureaucrats to grant Connex a short extension and then seek new tenders for private operation. This will not solve any of the problems that afflict Melbourne's public transport, nor will it allow us to even dream about the kind of progress seen in Perth.

I don't believe that Melbourne should follow the Perth model when the Connex/Yarra contracts expire. Rather than the best in Australia, we should learn from the best in the world — cities like Vancouver and Zurich, which now win the "most livable city" awards formerly dominated by Melbourne.

Zurich is particularly interesting: it starts well behind us in the livability stakes, because weather is one of the criteria, but breezes ahead when public transport is assessed. While public transport's share of motorised trips in Melbourne stands at 9 per cent, the figure in Zurich was 48 per cent at the last survey in 2000, and is now estimated to have passed 50 per cent.

The Zurich Transport Network (or ZVV in German) plans, funds and co-ordinates public transport across the whole canton, but employs only 34 staff. Its transport planning division has five staff — all of whom are named on its website.

In July last year, the agency released its latest transport strategy, covering the years 2009-12. This strategy is designed to deal with patronage growth rates much higher than seen in Melbourne (rail patronage has more than doubled since 1990) well before problems like crowding and late running set in.

One reason the ZVV needs so few staff is that local government works in partnership with the canton to provide local bus and tram services. The ZVV integrates these local services with regional links to form a complete network.

Melbourne City Council is currently considering stepping in to respond to the poor performance of Connex and Yarra Trams. Although the details are sketchy at this stage, it is commendable to see someone talking about tackling the public transport management problem, instead of merely lamenting it.

The best way of structuring a regional public transport agency, and of giving local government an appropriate role, is and should be a matter for debate. What should not require any further debate is the fact that without a competent, dynamic regional agency drawing on the positive lessons of Perth, Zurich and other successful cities, Melburnians will be lamenting the lack of progress on public transport for many years to come.

Dr Paul Mees is a senior lecturer in transport planning at the University of Melbourne. He will speak on public transport at a public meeting this evening at 5.30pm at the Wesley Uniting Church, Melbourne.
 

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I do wish this Mees would stop comparing Melbourne to cities such as Vancouver or Zurich.
Vancouver has less than 2million residents in it's entire metropolitan area.
It has 2 elevated rapid transport lines, and one heavy rail commuter service which runs in peak hour only, and only in the direction of the peak, ie, Suburbs - City AM, CIty - suburbs PM.
There is also 1 ferry service.
The rest of the system is bus based.
Hardly an accurate comparison.

As for the continuing reference to the Melbourne City Council, that council has no juristication over public transport & only has juristiction over it's allocated area, that being the CBD, Sth Melbourne, Docklands, Carlton, East Melbourne etc. It is not a governing body across the metropolitan area.
The council does not have the money to operate public transport, the means to, the ability to, or most importantly the right to.

If we had one big council like Brisbane, then it would be another story, but unfortunately we have a series of small, inefficient councils.
 

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As for the continuing reference to the Melbourne City Council, that council has no juristication over public transport & only has juristiction over it's allocated area, that being the CBD, Sth Melbourne, Docklands, Carlton, East Melbourne etc. It is not a governing body across the metropolitan area.
The council does not have the money to operate public transport, the means to, the ability to, or most importantly the right to.

If we had one big council like Brisbane, then it would be another story, but unfortunately we have a series of small, inefficient councils.
The story referring to MCC taking over said that it would be in conjunction with other metropolitan councils or private industry. Its doesn't suggest that it currently has jurisdiction, rather, it would seek to bid for the new contract in competition with Connex.

It seems logical to me that as the will is in the councils to push for PT upgrades, that any alternative is better than Connex or the state government, which I suspect have their arms twisted behind their backs by some very powerful people in the roads lobby.

I think also that its probably time for less letter writing and more protest action by commuters. Imagine if commuters on mass refused to pay 1 day every 3 months until serious action was taken. Apart from the lost revenue, it would bring the complete lack of action by this government into greater focus.
 

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I think also that its probably time for less letter writing and more protest action by commuters. Imagine if commuters on mass refused to pay 1 day every 3 months until serious action was taken. Apart from the lost revenue, it would bring the complete lack of action by this government into greater focus.
All serious commuters would be using periodical tickets, where it's somewhat hard to boycott fares for a day. For the rest, I'm sure Connex, Yarra Trams and the bus companies will be quite willing to offer their ticket inspectors overtime.

How about the state gets off its arse and does something? It's not Connex's responsibility to build the infrastructure and supply the trains. And for the state to fund improvements to bus routes - credit to them for actually doing this, and I hope that once they get most routes running to 9pm 7 days a week, they start funding improvements to frequency.

I think Yarra Trams are doing a great job running the tram network though. They seem to be copping the flak from people like the above lecturer in transport planning, although experience at uni tells me that lecturers who have spent lots of time in the industry are so less full of shit than academics who only rant on about random case studies.
 

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All serious commuters would be using periodical tickets, where it's somewhat hard to boycott fares for a day. For the rest, I'm sure Connex, Yarra Trams and the bus companies will be quite willing to offer their ticket inspectors overtime.

How about the state gets off its arse and does something? It's not Connex's responsibility to build the infrastructure and supply the trains. And for the state to fund improvements to bus routes - credit to them for actually doing this, and I hope that once they get most routes running to 9pm 7 days a week, they start funding improvements to frequency.

I think Yarra Trams are doing a great job running the tram network though. They seem to be copping the flak from people like the above lecturer in transport planning, although experience at uni tells me that lecturers who have spent lots of time in the industry are so less full of shit than academics who only rant on about random case studies.
True about the tickets, although a similar day of protest was organised last year in Sydney, and it made good press - was even on the BBC Breakfast show in the UK. I'm sure it wouldn't be a bad thing even if it was just for show.

As for the state getting off its arse, they are also in a difficult position. Look at all the bullsh*t that came up when the cycle lane was proposed for St Kilda Road.

The government are probably sh*t scared of the impact of extending clearways, creating bus lanes, giving tram priorities, because although benefitting PT or cycling actually improves conditions for private vehicles in the long run, not many people can see this in the shorter term.
 

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They mentioned Perth a lot in that article, I had no idea our transport authority was so envied!

I hope they build the airport line soon :)
 

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Isn't Paul Mees the head of the PTUA? If so take everything he says with a grain of salt.

The most important and cheapest thing to do with the train system would be to improve timetabling and signalling to improve frequencey. The government has already budgeted for this - with a complete refit of Melbourne's control system.
They should also remove some bottlenecks like the Springvale Rd rail crossing. This would also please the overlords at Vicroads, as it's a benefit to road users too.

It galls me to think that they're spending untold billions on widening the fairly new M1 but peanuts in comparison on a viable alternative to these huge dirty parking lots! Get people off the road and you'll improve congestion!

I have a deep dislike of the roads lobby at the moment!!!!!! :mad2:
 

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The REAL elephant in the room when it comes to comparing PT use in various cities is of course residential density. Of course Melbourne's PT use is a tiny fraction of Zurichs, because everyone loves their sprawl and won't accept high density suburban hubs on rail corridors (like Sydney has done) which would somewhat mitigate car dependency at least a bit.

Just to clarify, I don't believe that PT WONT work with low density (look at Perth) but rather that it's ludicrous to expect a European level of patronage within the classic Aussie sprawl. Especially when you keep buying shiny new freeways lanes for the marginal electorates.
 

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They mentioned Perth a lot in that article, I had no idea our transport authority was so envied!

I hope they build the airport line soon :)
The Joondalup line is used as an example by planners from all around the world. It was the first major urban heavy rail transport service to be built in decades for a suburban market. Prior to that line it was generally assumed heavy rail was a dead option for the suburbs.
 

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The Joondalup line is used as an example by planners from all around the world. It was the first major urban heavy rail transport service to be built in decades for a suburban market. Prior to that line it was generally assumed heavy rail was a dead option for the suburbs.
And unfortunately it leads planners and politicians to think that heavy rail down the middle of a freeway is the best option...
 

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gappa said:
It galls me to think that they're spending untold billions on widening the fairly new M1 but peanuts in comparison on a viable alternative to these huge dirty parking lots! Get people off the road and you'll improve congestion!

I have a deep dislike of the roads lobby at the moment!!!!!!
Who could blame you - the East-West upgrade is costing as much as what the underground rail loop would cost in today's dollars.

The roads stranglehold is awful - just need to compare the implementation of the Tullamarine interchange with the much smaller Westgarth rail duplication. At this glacial pace, the peoples in South Morang may not get their train before they reach retirement.
 

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And unfortunately it leads planners and politicians to think that heavy rail down the middle of a freeway is the best option...
I know what you're saying.

It turns the station into a mere 'connection' -everyone has to catch busses to get to and from the station. Lines that go throught the suburbs are a lot better.

And this article is quite stupid anyway. Zurich as a city doesn't cover a large land mass, therefore it's easy to provide a great transport system at a much lower cost than it would to cover Melbourne.

Plus Zurich's had a lot more time to build it's system than Melbourne, it's been around for a lot longer (not to forget it has a lot more money as well).
 

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Plus Zurich's had a lot more time to build it's system than Melbourne, it's been around for a lot longer (not to forget it has a lot more money as well).
Yeah the city might have been around longer, but the trains and trams haven't, so no excuse there really. In fact, Melbourne's growth coincided with the invention of rail transport, so we have many advantages over Zurich in terms of street layout, width etc.
 

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And unfortunately it leads planners and politicians to think that heavy rail down the middle of a freeway is the best option...
It is the best option for suburban rail in Australia.

There are huge advantages to having rail lines down existing freeways in Australian style cities (it wouldn't work in Europe). The transport linkages to the freeways already exist, meaning that bus services can feed into the system well and there is plenty of access for the building of park and ride facilities. Also, the available land is there for future expansion of stations and facilities without having to build in suburban areas with nimby issues (always a problem on older lines). For most of the stations there are no issues with houses being close to the lines and if there are, they already have sound shielding from the freeways. This means running trains all day and all night is possible with no complaints. Freeways are very direct routes so freeway trains tend to be very, very fast. The new southern suburbs train in Perth will run at 130kph and make the trip from Mandurah to Perth in 44mins. This speed also has the other advantage of making outer suburbs more desirable because of the reduced transit time to the city, which should help keep house prices reasonable.

Freeway rail lines are also much cheaper to build. Which is pretty important when you think about how much rail has been built in this country in the last 30 years.
 

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^^I'm not disagreeing with your points but you have to realise that a rail line down the centre of a Freeway creates access issues (You have to cross a freeway to get to the station) and you also limit development next to the station. People in general do not like to catch a bus to the station to then catch a train as in all cities in Australia less than 15min frequencies is not the norm and this could create some unacceptable waits for most people, especially if the connecting bus was running late and arrived 1 minute after the train left.
 

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Build it and they will come.... To be honest what you are saying makes sense and if I hadn't seen otherwise with my own eyes I would probably think the same thing.

Everybody said that about the Northern line in Perth when it was first built but the problems just didn't happen. It is now possibly the most succesful rail line in the country, with 5min frequencies during peak and all trains full.
 

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It can be very succesful. Just like the Gold Coast line in South East Queensland. High patronage yet it goes no where near much of the built up areas of the Gold Coast. However if the line was built into the Gold Coast somehow and kept straight, I reckon the patronage would be even higher!!

The proposed light rail should fix this though!


Also note the proposed Springfield line to the SW of Brisbane will be built to the denser side of the Freeway. The area with the highest population will not need to cross the freeway at all, and the area with the lower density will still need to cross the freeway or catch a connecting bus, in other words nothing has changed for them. Personally I see this as a better solution.
 

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I generally love Melbourne . But t has to be said its public transport is an absolute embarassment .
Weather i think of Madrid , Barcelona , Paris , Tokyo , Milan , Frankfurt , even economically messed up cities such as Mexico city or Buenos Aires . I can not think of a city outside of Australia that makes Melbournes PT seem third world .

Wayyyyyyyyyyyy too few trains or buses . Every stop immensely spread out . I can't remember having to walk more then 500 yards to catch the underground in Madrid . With trains pretty much arriving one after the other and also the fact that the trains are ultra-modern unlike Melbournes ridiculously old fleet adds to the pleasurable experience .
I guess Melbourne is so spread out for it's population ( Whereas Madrid is considerably smaller in size even though its population is nearly double Melbournes ) . This is a massive problem which i don't think will ever get fixed in a satisfactory manner .
 

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Can someone tell me about the PT situation in Perth? According to what I've heard, it seems to be one of the most progressive states with regard to public transport. I just want to know about new lines, stations, other forms of PT.

And don't expect anything from Victoria or NSW. We're damned if we vote for the opposition, damned if we vote for the incumbents. The only way public transport can ever get a real boost is if a devoted set of politicians get elected. What's the likelihood of that happening these days?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I generally love Melbourne . But t has to be said its public transport is an absolute embarassment .
Weather i think of Madrid , Barcelona , Paris , Tokyo , Milan , Frankfurt , even economically messed up cities such as Mexico city or Buenos Aires . I can not think of a city outside of Australia that makes Melbournes PT seem third world .

Wayyyyyyyyyyyy too few trains or buses . Every stop immensely spread out . I can't remember having to walk more then 500 yards to catch the underground in Madrid . With trains pretty much arriving one after the other and also the fact that the trains are ultra-modern unlike Melbournes ridiculously old fleet adds to the pleasurable experience .
I guess Melbourne is so spread out for it's population ( Whereas Madrid is considerably smaller in size even though its population is nearly double Melbournes ) . This is a massive problem which i don't think will ever get fixed in a satisfactory manner .
What old stock are you talking about? the majority of trains and many trams are only a few years old and the Govt has ordered another 30 trains ..
 
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