Homesafe a great start to all-night weekend PT

PSOs at Newport

The PTUA has welcomed confirmation that the “Homesafe” all-night weekend public transport services will start in January 2016, while noting that the government would need to make adjustments to the trial as it became clearer what worked and what didn’t.

PTUA spokesman Daniel Bowen said that Melburnians had been calling for all-night trams and trains at weekends for some time, with the Nightrider route structure confusing to passengers, buses often overcrowded, and long queues for taxis a regular sight in the CBD.

“Melbourne is becoming a 24-hour city. Particularly at weekends, it is very busy after dark, including after midnight.

“Our city also has many Sunday morning events starting before the trains start – all-night services will help a lot, provided inbound services are included in the scheme.[1]

“Night owls, shift workers and those going to events such as fun runs will all benefit. So the introduction of weekend all night trains, and trams on six routes, as well as regional coaches, is very welcome”, said Mr Bowen.

“But with trains only hourly, it remains to be seen whether large numbers of people use them. Many people may be unwilling to wait up to an hour if they miss a service.

“Most cities with 24-hour train services run them every 20-30 minutes, and the government will need to regularly review the service during the trial period, and move resources to where they’re most needed.”

Mr Bowen noted that a substantial part of the cost of the all-night service was for security[2].

“It costs a lot to put PSOs and other staff onto stations, for instance. Those costs don’t go up if more trains run. So it’s worth running more frequent services to ensure they’re attractive to passengers, and to get the best value for the Victorian public out of the substantial investment in all-night trains and security.

“It may be that some of the quieter lines are better served by nearby tram and bus connections, with more frequent trains provided on the busy lines.

“All that needs to be looked at during the trial, so that we end up with an all-night service which not only works for passengers, but is also financially sustainable”, concluded Mr Bowen.

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[1] Melbourne’s first Sunday trains reach the CBD later than on other Australian suburban railway systems.

[2] Victorian Government said that the cost was $49.5 million for public transport services, with an additional $34.1 million for security including PSOs.