No one running public transport co-ordination

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As we always suspected, no one is coordinating public transport in Victoria. Despite a massive bureaucracy, no one takes responsibility.

From:Clay Lucas, The Age, September 29, 2010

No one running public transport co-ordination

NO ONE takes responsibility for the co-ordination of Melbourne’s public transport services, according to the managers and former chiefs of Melbourne’s tram, train and bus systems, says a report to be released in Canberra today.

Working with Melbourne University transport academic Dr John Stone, researcher Kathren Lazanas interviewed six senior government and public transport managers last year, both before and after the Brumby government awarded $8 billion worth of contracts to run Melbourne’s trains and trams.

Their paper, to be presented at a research conference in Canberra this morning, shows the current and former bosses of Melbourne’s transport companies believe repeated attempts by the government to deliver better co-ordinated services across Melbourne have failed.

For passengers, this has meant a continued failure to have trains, buses and trams meet to shorten journey times.

”[We] lack a mechanism or a forum by which we could get all together and run public transport to maximise intermodal connections,” former Yarra Trams chief executive Dennis Cliche told the researchers, in a frank interview conducted after his company had lost the contract to run the city’s trams.

Mr Cliche told the researchers the public transport marketing agency Metlink did nothing to improve timetabling so that trams, trains and buses met.

But a senior government official interviewed for the research said that this co-ordination was a key element of Metlink’s job.

”Metlink is the co-ordinating body [that enables] discussions to take place between tram, train and bus on how they are going to deliver intermodal services,” said Ross Alexander, the Department of Transport official who oversaw last year’s train and tram contracts, and who negotiated the myki tender.

Former Metlink boss Bernie Carolan, who has since moved to be the top bureaucrat in charge of myki, said, however, that Metlink was not responsible for co-ordinating train, tram and bus timetables.

The researchers found introduction of new bus services was regularly done without properly consulting the train company. A new bus service from Altona to Mordialloc introduced last April arrives at Werribee every 15 minutes. Former Connex network manager Chris White told the researchers the train operator was simultaneously working on getting trains to come every 10 minutes. Both were improvements, but the failure to match times was a missed opportunity.

The Victorian Greens have proposed establishing a public transport authority with wide-ranging co-ordination powers, if they win the balance of power at November’s state election. Some of the cities with the world’s best public transport services – London, Copenhagen, Vancouver and Singapore – have such co-ordinating authorities.

The research finds that, over the past decade, the state government has relied on three mechanisms to improve Melbourne’s public transport integration:

■ A market-based ideology that will see improved co-ordination forced on operators in order to increase revenue.

■ The creation of Metlink to co-ordinate public transport.

■ A series of new government transport strategies. All three have failed, the research finds.

Instead, operators and the government have run their organisations with little regard for what others are doing.

”Currently, co-ordinating timetables across the modes is, at best, a reactive process by interested individuals, as opposed to a planned, strategic proactive process,” the authors wrote.

A study by the Public Transport Users Association this year found only 38 per cent of trains met a connecting bus.

One thought on “No one running public transport co-ordination”

  1. chrisg says:

    Try the ‘Pass the Transport Buck’ quiz at http://ptthatworks.org.au/buck.php

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