Sunday, June 6, 2010

Single Zone for Weekend Travel

The Melbourne weekend public transport timetable is appalling. Trains run every 20 minutes at best, trams run every 12 minutes and buses even longer. There is a chicken and egg problem of demand vs supply. People won't take public transport because there are not enough services, and public transport companies won't increase services because of this.

There needs to be a circuit breaker to tip the balance.

Making the whole public transport a single zone on the weekend will seek to push the demand side of things. Getting more people on the public transport so the operators will take notice.


Daniel said...

What about, say, having a cheap fare of $3.00 or $3.10 on weekends?

JJ said...

It's worth discussing, but is that price sustainable? For it to be sustainable, an increase in patronage has to be large enough to offset a reduction in price. I'm sure an optimum price point can be reached, and hopefully it's under or near $5.

Daniel said...

Let's hope it's sustainable, given it's already offered.

JJ said...

Egg on face. But they can still rationalize the fare scheme to make it simpler. For instance abolish the sunday saver ticket and have a weekend saver ticket for $3.10 that can be used on either Saturday or Sunday. Forcing casual users to buy in bulk can be turn off.

So obviously the price is not low enough for demand to attract more services.

Looking more deeply into this how do you attract more demand besides price?

1) Have more attractive routes? Where are people actually going on the weekends? Besides having extra services for the footy, can they have extra services to shopping districts, and express routes to shopping centres? What other places do a large enough "group" of people go and where do they come from? Use fuzzy logic to define new routes based on demand. Weekends are a great time to experiement with "trial routes".

2) Reduce the length of travel. a) Start designating tram and bus super stops and run express routes through superstops to reduce travel time. b) Have bus lanes that work on weekends. c)Get out of old subruban streets and back onto major corridors on the weekend due to reduce traffic.

3)Offer freebies. Have free wifi available on buses and bus superstops to make long travel and waiting times more bearable.