Recession hits patronage growth in Melbourne

By: Jason Whittaker


Public transport operators in Melbourne are beginning to feel the effects of the recession, with patronage figures "tapering" in recent

Public transport operators in Melbourne are beginning to feel the effects of the recession, with patronage figures "tapering" in recent months, Metlink Chief Executive Bernie Carolan told the BusNSW Leading Edge seminar in Sydney on Friday (July 19).

Bus, train and tram patronage figures show a slight drop-off after several years of strong growth, Carolan says.

"If I have to have a guess we think the tapering is strongest on trains, and that bus and tram for the moment will be enduring the financial crisis," he says.

"Trains carry lots of white collar workers into the city. You don’t see as many white collar commuters any more, especially in the banking and other sectors, so there are not as many of those workers travelling, we think."

Despite the recession Carolan says bus services in Melbourne and greater Victoria have enjoyed strong growth – particularly in the 12 months ended March 2009, when bus services in Melbourne grew by 13 percent.

"Our [bus] growth has been phenomenally strong for several years," Carolan says.

"That becomes a very virtuous circle – when governments are prepared to invest in bus services and we can subsequently come along and show that the growth has justified that investment, obviously it makes it more likely that the investment will continue."

Carolan spoke on the benefits of investing in marketing. Metlink acts as an umbrella marketing and information company servicing privately-owned public transport operators in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

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