No Fare, Such Wow. PART ONE

Forgive my sarcasm, but your vote is being bought again. But this time, it might just pay off for the user. Part One coves free trams in the city and it’s lack of actual congestion busting efforts. Part Two (coming soon) will cover removing Zone 2 sections, and extending the Zone1+2 overlap.

These moves certainly mean that people who have typically been able to afford city living, also get free public transport. Take that as you will. But at the end of a day, there’s a lot more to it.

It’s merely a structural change to the fare revenue system. That’s it.

That said, it doesn’t actually improve any of the services. Trams don’t run any faster, and the train’s don’t seem to be more punctual.  But forgive my cynicism, I’m not done yet.

My biggest issue is, the free tram solution is weak. And my ongoing frustration is that transport solutions are always seen in isolation not as a system of moving people. A holistic view of the transport system itself ideally has a list of actions to generate a solution.

The main benefit is only for people who wholly reside within the city (bounded by the CBD and Docklands) and car drivers who drive into the city.

Most people already pay a fare to get into the city on bus/train/tram anyway. So for the majority of people it won’t even matter. However the people who will oddly benefit (apart from city dwellers who probably don’t pay anyway) are car driver’s who park in the city. Ironic isn’t it. Car’s contribute to the road network load overall; but maybe it’s counterintuitive to allow them the benefits of not using PT to begin with. 

The government assumes that tourists will stay within the bounds of the CBD and Docklands.

However, when it comes to the operational nature of what driving PT use in the city –  looking into it further Mr Mulder’s comments are questionable regarding free trams in the city.

“It’ll actually speed the trams up because because people getting on in the CBD through the course of the day won’t have to touch on,” Mr Mulder said.

Fact-checking this, the biggest source of delays is traffic light sequencing and interfering traffic and likely not to be the function of touching on.

Trams get held up outside the city and skew operational running times; these are bigger problem which require a more engaged solution.

Successful implementation might mean that more non-regular travellers might consider tram travel within the city, however we start to infringe on the already limited capacity available within the CBD along our congested corridors.

Queues of people trying to board tram exist because of other passengers deboarding trams; in turn caused by general congestion and inadequate frequencies being run. But people typically don’t line up outside the tram waiting to touch on; they get onboard then deal with Myki – Melbourne’s favourite ticketing system.

A congestion charge within the city would probably do more in terms of budget balancing and reducing congestion in the city than making trams free. One is politically contentious, the other is not. 

However back to my other point on how free trams in the city is weak. The holistic view incorporates busses, trains and even cars. None of which are being considered.

Let’s turn to Perth. Their Free Transit Zone covers both trains and trams. There are calls also to bring in a congestion charge. 

image

This particular solution is eloquent, it covers all transit modes and truly benefits those travelling within the city with realistic options. In fact they also have orbital city bus routes which provide excellent connectivity. Melbourne city transit still lacks some particular elements.

There will be enforcement issues, however these largely exist with the current system it’s current form anyway. Because of the way it is conducted, it essentially means that the free tram zone extends any location you can get on board without being observed. Try that one carefully.

Part Two will cover how Zone 1+2 becomes Zone 1+2 (and there’s no typo there).

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