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News Article: Patronage at Lowest in Six Years

Perth / Western Australia Transport Discussion

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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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