, ,

Free ‘night owl’ travel not quite the hoot

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has warned that Premier John Brumby’s proposal for free “night owl” travel will only result in worse crowding on evening trains.

“Following record levels of patronage growth, evening trains on the Belgrave and Lilydale lines are already packed,” said Jeremy Lunn, the PTUA’s Outer-East Convenor. “The government’s proposal does nothing to solve that problem.”

Mr Lunn noted that many commuters are working late, or staying in the city after work for social reasons, only to travel home on trains that are just as congested as in peak hours.

“The current half-hourly evening service is obviously inadequate and passengers are tired of being packed in like sardines,” Mr Lunn said. “That sort of service frequency can’t meet the needs of people in the twenty-first century.”

Consequently, the PTUA has called for evening train service to be upgraded to run every 10 minutes, rather than every half hour. This would apply seven days a week to all trains on the Belgrave, Lilydale, Alamein and Glen Waverley lines.

Mr Lunn said that the State Government is in a good position to carry out the changes because contracts for Melbourne’s train network come up for renewal this year.

“Giving free travel that will lead to worse overcrowding is not offering taxpayers value for money. More frequent trains is an urgent priority, and money gained from fares should be used to help provide them,” he concluded.