Trams of Australia


The main event in Melbourne tram politics is the automated ticketing system "Metcard", and the breakup and sale of the public transport system to 4 private operators that we are supposed to believe will compete with each other. And pigs will fly, and Metcard will reduce fare evasion, as promised. Sigh. There is no limit to how stupid our government thinks we are. (But they get re-elected, so they are probably right.)

Most of the details of this are summarised on the News page.


Here is a quote from the 1994 Annual report of the Public Transport Corporation, page 11:
The operating fleet was reduced from 616 to 578 vehicles. The fleet will reach its final number of 472 in 1995/96. This has, however, not meant a reduction in capacity or service levels.
Did you spot it? Yes! The third sentence is a joke. Riders on most lines will remember how, after the Kennett government came to power in late 1992, published timetables disappeared, and trams ran to an unavailable "summer timetable" which was a reduced service. After the summer holidays were over, the "timetable" did not change. Eventually new timetables were printed which entrenched the new lower service level. Other lines (e.g. No. 48) had further reductions in service in early 1995.

Let's put it into a longer term perspective: In the mid 1950s, a conservative state government was elected. Ridership figures near the start of its term:

Year      Tram trips    Total trips (tram/train/bus)
          (millions)    (millions)
1957/58   200 (approx)  over 360
27 years of unbroken conservative rule ended in 1982. Ridership had decreased steadily over that period. A new government re-organized the public transport system.
1983/84   ???,         259.0
1984/85   ???,         280? 
1985/86   ???,         287.5
1986/87   112.9        291.0
1987/88   113.4        295.8
1988/89   108          305.7
1989/90   ???,         284   a long, very damaging strike occurred this year
1990/91   107.659      305.647
1991/92   112.037      315
The new conservative government was elected, and embarked on the "summer timetable" sham already mentioned. Driver-only trams were introduced, noticably extending trip times.
1992/93   100.858      297.868
1993/94    98.292      287.504
The source for these figures is the annual reports of the respective years. It is clear that the attitude of the government is very important to public transport ridership trends. But, it seems things are looking up. Recent press statements include the following figures:
1993/94   104.04       294.79
1994/95   108.55       305.76

It is not completely clear where these figures come from, and why the 93/94 figures differ from those in the 93/94 Annual Report, but if they are true, the trend is back in the right direction, even if they are not quite at the levels achieved by the previous government.