The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is concerned at the rush to cut public transport services during Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown and curfew, causing confusion and delays for those who have to travel.
“While we appreciate the need to scale back services at a time when much of the economy is shutting down, there has been a severe impact on those who need to travel for essential work, and a lack of information”, said PTUA spokesperson Daniel Bowen.
“On Monday night details of drastic evening service cuts for trams and trains were only published as they took effect, giving travellers no time to plan ahead.
“A number of bus services also saw cuts after 8pm, but many of these were not published anywhere, leaving passengers in the dark.”
The PTUA believes the cuts should have waited until Thursday when the workplace shutdowns start in earnest, allowing time to better plan and communicate the changes.
Mr Bowen said that the cuts need to be refined, with a better outcome being a paring back of high frequency peak services, and leaving something closer to the usual service in place after 8pm for essential workers. In the case of trams and trains, this might be the equivalent of a Saturday timetable.
The sudden changes on Monday night left trains running mostly hourly, but with some gaps of up to 90 minutes or more .
“While the capacity will probably be sufficient to maintain physical distancing given the curfew and the shutdown of most workplaces, the big problem is the wait times. Imagine finishing your shift at 11pm and having to wait 90 minutes for your train home”, said Mr Bowen.
“For those who have to get to and from work in the evening, it makes the service nearly unusable, particularly if making connections between services.
“Meanwhile, with most white-collar workers at home, services running every few minutes in peak hour are near-empty.”
Mr Bowen called on the government to refine the timetable changes to better support essential workers such as those in distribution centres and medical roles.
“Trams and trains on a Saturday timetable every day would be a far better outcome for passengers compared to the situation we have now.”
“We know it’s a fast evolving situation. We urge authorities to look at this again: ensure a minimum 30 minute frequency on metro train lines in the evenings so those who have to work still have a service they can use”, concluded Mr Bowen.
 On the Craigieburn line, the second and third last outbound trains were cancelled, leaving a service gap of 98 minutes between 10:52pm and 12:30am.
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