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News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

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News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Merc1107 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:41 pm

WAToday Article

Perth public transport patronage down as WA pumps $1.3 billion into Metronet

Jon Daly
Published: September 12 2017 - 12:47PM

Patronage on Transperth services has dropped to its lowest levels in six years just as the McGowan government announces a $1.3 billion boost to extend Perth's public transport network.

Five million less trips were made in 2016-17, with train rides down 4 percent and bus rides down 3 percent despite customer satisfaction being at an all time high.

This year's Transperth Passenger Satisfaction Monitor – an annual survey of 4,000 customers – shows nine in ten passengers were happy with the service.

Perth Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes said the drop in passengers was caused by the economic downturn.

"The widely-reported procession of jobs and businesses out of the CBD was the biggest single factor behind the patronage fall," he said.

"While there is only anecdotal evidence of the number of CBD jobs which have disappeared, 20,000 public transport users would translate to ten million trips a year."

Mr Hynes said discretional use, represented in a drop in DayRider and FamilyRider tickets, suggested that people had less disposable income.

"[People] are choosing to stay at home or are at least being more measured in their amount of leisure activity," he said.

In the same satisfaction survey, 26 percent of passengers said they felt unsafe at train stations at night, compared 24 percent in 2016.

At bus stops 22 percent of patrons said they felt unsafe at night, compared to 21 percent last year.

Strange people, drunks and drug users and a lack of security are the main reason for safety concerns of passengers.

A lack of security was cause for concern for 57 percent of female passengers who said they felt unsafe on trains at night – rising 17 percent from the previous year.

"As has been well documented in the media, violent and antisocial behaviour seems to be happening more frequently in society as a whole – this is also reflected in the results of the PSM," Mr Hynes said.

Mr Hynes said any antisocial behaviour was unacceptable on Transperth services.

"Our trains, buses, platforms and stations across the network are regularly monitored in a variety of ways including by our team of highly-trained transit officers, mobile patrols, private security contractors, our high-tech 10,000+ camera CCTV system and 24-hour Central Monitoring Room (CMR)."

The passenger survey comes on the back of the WA government allocating funding for two key projects in the WA government's Metronet plan - the Joondalup line extension to Yanchep and the Thornlie Line extension - in the 2017 budget.

"As more Metronet public transport projects come online, patronage will grow naturally as more services are located closer to where people live and want to travel," Mr Hynes said.

"The project will also help grow a network of well-connected activity centres across Perth, another vital step to ensuring a sustainable, accessible public transport network for the future."

The state government also earmarked $500,000 of the budget for a public awareness campaign aimed at enticing more patrons to public transport.


Saw comments from folk citing excessive cost of taking public transport in Perth; in terms of incremental cost and modern vehicles that are very economical, yes, I tend to agree. I'm sure people will suggest pushing up car registration costs, or introducing road tolls... I say the cost of public transport should made attractive by low fares, not by slugging all road users (who may not have a choice in their use of a car, such as tradespeople and delivery services) with extra taxes.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby boronia » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:29 pm

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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:55 am

The loss of CBD jobs and consequent downturn of patronage was also described in the 2016 annual report, so it's not new news and is part of the trend consequent upon the end of the mining construction boom.

A lot of those public comments in both articles are a whingefest deriving from the isolation of WA and thus a lack of knowledge of how things are in other states. In fact the fares are very reasonable by national standards and the connections and level of service across the whole of the urban area are excellent by comparison with any other Australian city. $2 a day for station parking - piffle. As for claiming it's "cheaper" to go by car, naturally everybody conveniently overlooks the cost of owning and maintaining a car. Fuel is only a minor component of the real cost of using the car.

A truer perspective is provided by reading, for example, city transport reviews in Tripadvisor where you see the comments of visitors and FIFO workers from other states and overseas. Basically the comments can be summarised as "wow".

I think the system will just have to weather this economic downturn. It's an externality that doesn't tell us anything about the actual quality of the public transport system which is superb. The government just needs to keep making it even better - keep building those rail lines and it would be good if they could be more aggressive about introducing bus priority in traffic. Also clamp down on car park approvals and don't do WTF things like keep extending the Mitchell Freeway in tandem with the extensions to the rail line!
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Merc1107 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:12 am

tony wrote:As for claiming it's "cheaper" to go by car, naturally everybody conveniently overlooks the cost of owning and maintaining a car.

Although on a day-to-day basis, I'd argue the cost of a vehicle is an incremental one. Most people have a car anyway, so costs of ownership don't vary all that much apart from fuel, the other costs are sunk and thus from the perspective of economics, you should only consider the effect of incremental costs.

Depending on how much public transport costs versus a car, the "savings" from driving could go a ways to mitigating the cost of car ownership. For me, at present, a journey to Mandurah would be about four or five zones. If I were non-concessional, yes, the car would be my choice. If an economical 24y/o car drinking premium fuel is marginally cheaper, then modern vehicles are bound to be much more so.

However, I've read the articles and can see there are some fabrications of cost and maybe time. For example, a 1-zone return trip isn't $8.
In other instances, a family doing their weekly or fortnightly shop could not hope to use public transport - boils down to the time used and constraints on how much you can carry.

As a friend and I were discussing, though, distance-based fares could be better implemented through Smart-Rider to try and encourage shorter trips. Perhaps we could trial not increasing fares annually? The operating costs covered by fares is a ridiculously small value at about 5%. Its a public service - why not just keep it cheaper and make it attractive. The Government won't win this battle by increasing fares all the while touting, "Its cheaper than anywhere else in Australia!" That won't wash, in my opinion.

The NT (Darwinbus) have a flat-fare for the entire network; $3. Traveling the furthest distance from the CBD by bus (to Humpty-Doo) is 37km, and if you needed two tickets, $6. In Perth, the equivalent journey (three zones) would cost $8.96 at minimum and up to $11.2.
Or, if one uses the $20/wk unlimited journey smart-card - the more you use the bus, less each journey costs!
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:06 am

^^^
Yes, I've argued that myself too. In developed countries most people own a car anyway so it's not valid to compare the cost of using public transport against the whole cost of owning a car - and people would think that if they own a car they might as well use it.

I think we have to look more closely at what happens in many European cities where there is both high public transport usage AND high car ownership. From personal observation living in a couple of these cities, the car sits at home all week and is brought out in the weekend (for modern bulk shopping in particular where you need a car to carry your shopping home). I suspect that the main reason that the car is not used for commuting, especially to centres, is because European cities are very restrictive about parking. If you drive into the city centre in particular, there is nowhere to park.

Perth's big problem (in common with most Australian cities except the two megacities) is the ease of parking, notably in the CBD where there are all those carparks. That's a terribly wasteful and uneconomic use of land and attracts car-commuting. Those carparks could actually contribute to urban consolidation (and slow the outwards urban sprawl) by being redevloped. In the CBD, since the office market has slackened, redevelop them as apartment blocks, which seems to be a type of housing strongly on the move in Perth at the moment. This should be part of a planning strategy right across Perth - identify carparks and rezone them for high density, medium density (townhouses) or mixed commercial-residential. At the moment, public carparks are being left to ride and are undermining efforts to grow public transport usage.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby goroundandround » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:14 pm

Merc1107 wrote:The operating costs covered by fares is a ridiculously small value at about 5%.


That's a bit low, it's at least 15% (depending on what you include in the PTA costs), at about $210k

That said, it also costs money to collect that money, with lots of ticket inspectors and equipment as well as the time taken by bus drivers and just handling the cash at depots, etc.

I know families who manage with one car because one of them commutes via PT, where they'd need two if they drove to work, so the "sunk cost" of car ownership needs a scaling factor to be valid.

The PTA has, I hear, commissioned a survey that's not "asking the choir" of existing passengers but is trying to find out why people _aren't_ catching PT. Maybe that'll generate some ideas on what needs to change. Just anecdotally, I've spoken to people who don't catch buses because they're too hot or cold and who don't realise that 95% of the fleet is air-conditioned now. There's probably other misconceptions that need addressing which might make a difference, too.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Mr OC Benz » Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:23 pm

Farebox recovery is actually around 30% in Perth. Quite high compared with other Australian cities (Sydney is about 20% for example), but pretty low compared with our NZ neighbours (50-60%). Not quite sure where the 5% figure came from?
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby tonyp » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:37 pm

goroundandround wrote:The PTA has, I hear, commissioned a survey that's not "asking the choir" of existing passengers but is trying to find out why people _aren't_ catching PT. Maybe that'll generate some ideas on what needs to change. Just anecdotally, I've spoken to people who don't catch buses because they're too hot or cold and who don't realise that 95% of the fleet is air-conditioned now. There's probably other misconceptions that need addressing which might make a difference, too.

I think that will be a very good type of survey to do. It's interesting to know what goes on in the minds of the many people who still doggedly take their cars, in peak hours especially, when in Perth the public transport journey is often actually faster, even with modal interchange. There have been a few stories on TV and in the press about this, including journalists going out and doing runs on both modes and interviewing people about their journey to work. Many people's choice to drive is clearly irrational and there is a need to gain insight into what it takes to break this down. A lot of the habit no doubt derives from misconceptions, often formed years ago, also probably from simple laziness or perceived convenience.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Merc1107 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:33 pm

Mr OC Benz wrote:Not quite sure where the 5% figure came from?
I stand corrected. Can't say it was pulled from thin air, but at the same time, can't recall where the figure came from.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Mr OC Benz » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:30 pm

PTA patronage projections courtesy of Hansard. Another slight decrease is predicted this financial year before beginning to recover over the next few years.
2013–14: 147.641 million
2014–15: 148.762 million
2015–16: 145.633 million
2016–17: 140.857 million

2017–18: 140.302 million
2018–19: 142.937 million
2019–20: 143.496 million
2020–21: 144.248 million
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby TRS-80 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:50 am

Uber etc is also probably eating into patronage, it certainly does in other cities. Anecdotally I know people without cars who used to use Transperth but now prefer Uber.

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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby FLOREAT 90 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:43 pm

Another article in yesterday's (10/02/2017) West Australian newspaper citing lower passenger numbers:

https://thewest.com.au/news/perth/renew ... b88739343z

The latest public transport patronage figures show more than two million fewer journeys in 2017 compared with 2016, down to just over 140 million with November and December being the worse in seven years. Train journeys dipped below 60 million for the first time in seven years, including a 6.4 per cent decline on the Midland line.

The government is pinning its hopes on the rollout of Metronet infrastructure such as the Forrestfield-Airport Link, Thornlie-Cockburn Link, Yanchep line extension, Morley-Ellenbrook line and Byford extension to attract more passengers together with other projects under way to make it easier for people to access public transport through carpark upgrades, expansion of the cycling network and various road projects.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Merc1107 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:24 pm

I have several theories on this. Personally, I think the provision of information (or lack thereof) is one issue stifling growth. There seems to be a lack of initiative to inform the public via traditional media outlets, in addition to social media. Even for Stadium Bus Routes, the information on the designates stops simply says, "Please see the Transperth Website."
I don't think it would hurt for more of a song & dance to be made about the network. A large number of car users simply do not understand how efficient the network can be simply because they have no experience, a bad experience from years and years ago or have formed a bad opinion based on their own prejudices.

Related to the above is touting interconnectivity. I don't mean bus to train, or vice-versa, as this is handled quite well by the network. Bus-to-bus (feeders to mainline routes, for example) is where I feel there is room for improvement based on my travels.

Another issue that has become quite obvious to me recently; Passengers with tickets transferring onto other services. There is no provision to count passengers with valid tickets transferring onto another service, or those with valid travel passes making their way around. In some areas, cash fares are still very much the status-quo, in others, not so much.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby system improver » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:36 pm

Maybe someone can provide some recent info. The last I was in Perth they were running three car sets on peak services so that people were squeezed in like sardines. This wasn't a capacity or network problem just a chronic, and inexplicable, shortage of rolling stock. What's the situation now? The train/bus interchanges seems to work well 15 years ago, but the frequencies looked like they were reduced? Do buses now meet trains? A conservative pro-car government for 8 years probably didn't help. They seemed to do very little in public transport but produced massive deficits - some feat.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Mr OC Benz » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:08 pm

The crowding was experienced during the surge in population growth and employment around 2010-11. The last government ordered a significant number of new trains, but by the time the last of these were delivered, the economic downturn begun and demand weakened. These days, the rail car consists sufficiently cater for all periods. Every train during peak periods are six car sets and pretty much almost every train during the day and on weekends are also six cars now too. At night it varies, but the free late night trains between 12:30-3am are always three cars and there are almost always standing passengers. New generation trains will be permanent six cars in a high density configuration to carry more passengers (mostly as standees) and with more doors to reduce dwell.

The bus frequencies haven’t been reduced, in fact they have been significantly increased, and this is part of the problem. The last government funded significant expansion in bus service kilometres between 2010-2017, but this was not matched by a corresponding increase in patronage, and as a result the bus network has become less efficient. So sure, we now have a very reasonable bus service in many areas, but they are not really as well utilised. I don’t think that cutting the services would be effective in curbing this, because going back to pre-2010 style service frequencies would not attract new users. And yes, as mentioned above, bus-train connections are a significant part of the network and probably done most successfully in the country.

With most core fundamentals in working order, it probably comes down to two main issues. The first is difficult to manage, but second is entirely in government’s control. The first and most important is the end of the mining boom has resulted in significantly weakened demand in Transperth’s core market - peak commuters. Office vacancies in the Perth CBD are high and as a result, there are less people working there and less people travelling by public transport. Together with reduced population growth, there is just no stimulant for increased patronage.

The second issue is that governments (both Liberal and Labor) continue to invest significantly in roads. They are both trying to get more people on public transport, but they also want to “solve” traffic congestion. In reality, all they are really doing is inducing demand for car use by building new roads/highways and making it easier to drive, which in turn is not making public transport attractive. Parking is also cheap, so car driving is actually cheaper than PT sometimes. The low density sprawling nature of Perth makes it difficult to provide efficient and effective public transport, although considering this, Transperth do a pretty good job by Australian standards and partly explains for consistently high customer satisfaction.

Projects like Perth Stadium and the new airport line will in addition to natural patronage growth, encourage cultural change which in turn will slowly change perceptions in public transport and lead to even greater growth.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby tonyp » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:56 am

The car mentaility in Australia has become very deeply entrenched and is a hard one to crack, no matter how good the public transport. The only way to break it is to let congestion and difficulty of parking get so bad that the disincentive to drive becomes overwhelming. You can see this starting to happen in Sydney and Melbourne and that gives you a clue as to how big an Australian city population has to become for the pendulum to start swinging the other way. The other more proactive method is a government that will ensure that car capacity is strangled not augmented and that is somewhat politically unfeasible!

Perth is where Sydney was in the 1960s/60s. Still relatively easy to drive and park and public transport patronage in decline. Some of the factors that started swinging it around were the introduction of time-restricted and resident-only permit parking in the inner city suburbs, the rapid rise in commercial value of land making investment in inner city parking stations a less attractive proposition, rising fuel prices (but this later stabilised) and increasing road congestion as popualtion grew and construction of motorways to match fell behind (not that they would have ultimately helped anyway due to induced demand).

The other factor in Sydney was the replacement of the tram system by buses which brought street transit patronage growth to a standstill for decades following. People abandoned the buses for driving. Perth, however, is fortunate in having an excellent integrated bus system that has grown patronage substantially.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby TRS-80 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:31 am

I think they've cut back on extra railcars recently - one peak service I normally catch on the Armadale line has gone from 4 to 2 cars, after it was increased to 4 cars when the last of the A sets came from the Mandurah/Joondalup line a few years ago. I can still get a seat though. Traffic however which has been comparatively light (I could go Thornlie-Claremont in 40 minutes in peak) has become much worse since the unis came back a few weeks ago, making catching the train a comparable option again, I just need to make it to the station to catch the last of the peak services, which isn't that easy when dropping a toddler off at daycare.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Merc1107 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:17 am

I'm also a student, but have noticed the last few weeks since school went back that things are definitely much busier than I remember them in the past two years. Maybe its just an anomaly before "all the first years drop out" as the saying goes. Guess we'll see.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby bullswool » Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:34 pm

There's definitely a huge increase around this time of year when uni starts. The 950 is absolutely rammed in the mornings at the moment, and there's often a queue of a good 100 people for it at Wellington St and William St. The busses barely cope.

In saying that, it always drops off after a few weeks as first heads either drop off or realise that lectures are recorded and kept online :).
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Merc1107 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:26 pm

bullswool wrote: In saying that, it always drops off after a few weeks as first heads either drop off or realise that lectures are recorded and kept online :).

Just to derail the thread for a moment, students must also realise that if they don't attend lectures regularly, then in time all they will have access to is online content. The penny-pinching fools at Murdoch have already started this off, using their Business students as guinea pigs.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby tonyp » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:07 pm

bullswool wrote:There's definitely a huge increase around this time of year when uni starts. The 950 is absolutely rammed in the mornings at the moment, and there's often a queue of a good 100 people for it at Wellington St and William St. The busses barely cope.

Time now for a permanent all-artic service on 950? Can it be done?
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Bus Suggestions » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:05 pm

Probably not, until Transperth order another 100 artics
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Merc1107 » Sat May 19, 2018 12:02 pm

tonyp wrote:Time now for a permanent all-artic service on 950? Can it be done?

The latest deliveries should see an increase in the number of articulated buses operating the 950s. Although at the time of writing, one of the depots operating a significant number of 950s have no articulated buses whatsoever.

I (and others, too) could probably turn themselves a funny shade of purple figuring out why places like Mandurah warrant a fleet of ten articulated buses, but whatever will be, will be.
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Squiddy » Sat May 19, 2018 1:14 pm

Merc1107 wrote:
tonyp wrote:Time now for a permanent all-artic service on 950? Can it be done?

The latest deliveries should see an increase in the number of articulated buses operating the 950s. Although at the time of writing, one of the depots operating a significant number of 950s have no articulated buses whatsoever.

I (and others, too) could probably turn themselves a funny shade of purple figuring out why places like Mandurah warrant a fleet of ten articulated buses, but whatever will be, will be.


School Services? They probably need the artics for school buses since there's no point having a large fleet of rigids that will sit idle most of the day. It's not like the 950 where you've got buses from several depots running it, Mandurah is pretty isolated with only one route that links to any other station (558) so the Mandurah fleet has to cover the whole morning/afternoon rush hour while having as few buses as possible sitting in the depot during the quiet hours, which justifies a higher number of artics to me

Which I believe explains why all of Transdev's B12s were transferred down there, but I have no idea why the recent B8 3095 was delivered to Mandurah too. Surely the new B8s would be better utilised in busier areas? Other than a few 558s during the day Mandurah's artics pretty much sit in the depot outside of the morning/afternoon peak. Seems like a waste to me
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Re: News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Postby Merc1107 » Sun May 20, 2018 11:25 am

Squiddy wrote:School Services? They probably need the artics for school buses since there's no point having a large fleet of rigids that will sit idle most of the day.
I glossed over including that in my post, but yes, school trips would be the reason. It would be interesting to see the numbers utilising the individual trips warranting the artics and whether or not an artic is strictly necessary. See for instance some of the AM & PM 592s operated by two or even three buses in tandem...
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