Boom time for Melbourne buses

By: Chris Smith

Bus patronage across Melbourne is booming with a huge 44 percent growth in passengers travelling on Sundays in the past

Bus patronage across Melbourne is booming with a huge 44 percent growth in passengers travelling on Sundays in the past 12 months following a raft of improvements offering a greater choice of public transport services.

Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky says a combination of recent upgrades and changes to bus routes – the vast majority which run until 9pm, every day of the week – means 53,000 trips are made on Melbourne’s buses every Sunday.

"The Brumby Government is taking action to improve our local bus services and I am absolutely delighted with these new figures which show many Melburnians are embracing bus services," Kosky says.

"We identified a real need for better Sunday bus services particularly in the outer suburbs and buses provide quick and efficient cross town links.

"An average of 53,000 people every Sunday uses bus links and this is 16,000 more people every Sunday compared to the same time last year.

"We have now upgraded 114 local bus routes with Sunday running and added 2708 extra Sunday services since 2006. We are on track to upgrade more routes bringing the total number of upgraded services to 137 with the majority of routes gaining Sunday services.

"These upgrades are the centrepiece of a $646 million package to improve metropolitan bus services across Melbourne over 10 years."

A snapshot of routes upgraded since June 2007 shows:
• A 58 percent rise in patronage on the Route 901 SmartBus (Ringwood-Frankston);
• A 50 percent rise patronage on Route 784 (Mornington-Osborne);
• A 32 percent rise in patronage on Route 564 (Bundoora RMIT-Epping Plaza & Northern Hospital); and
• 25 percent growth on Route 408 (St Albans-Highpoint City).

Kosky says from mid-2009, the Essendon station will be served by the new Red Orbital SmartBus route.

"This service will link Altona to Mordialloc via Box Hill and Essendon and will prove just a popular as the five existing SmartBus routes in Melbourne’s east."

As the end of the AFL season approaches, Kosky reminds passengers they can save money by purchasing a 5x Weekend Daily Metcard which means they can travel anywhere in Melbourne for just $2.90 a day on the weekend.

"Compare that to $10.50 for a Zone1+2 Daily Metcard and the savings are self-explanatory. In April, we sold more than 15,000 5x Weekend Daily tickets, however this more than doubled to 32,000 in May," she says.
"People want cheaper travel, they want more travel options on the weekend, and they are voting with their feet by getting on board Sunday buses with their 5x Weekend Daily Metcards."

On weekdays, total bus validations in Melbourne grew by 6 percent in the 12 months to June 2008, compared to the previous year, while Saturday validations rose by an impressive 15 percent.

"Right across the board, our improvements to bus services are providing more options for Melburnians to get to work, to get to shops, to make appointments and to visit family and friends," she says.

Meanwhile, at Doncaster Park & Ride, Melbourne’s first pre-paid bus stop, total validations have soared beyond expectations, to nearly 17,000 per week.

"In the 2008-2009 State Budget we announced $11.3 million for the popular Eastern Freeway express bus services which use the Doncaster Park and Ride facility and this investment will see an extra 20 peak hour services every weekday," she says.

"So I encourage everybody to pick up a Metcard and jump on the bus."

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