18 September 2007

Free early bird - will it work for you?

The Victorian Government will trial a new ticket to try to ease congestion on Melbourne's train services. The new early bird ticket will be available to travellers on the Sydenham and Frankston lines who reach their destinations by 7:00am. If the trial is successful, the free ticket will become available across the city's train system sometime next year.

Read The Age story and also the Herald-Sun for more details.

Travelling to the city from Frankston, you'd need to catch the 4.17, 4.47, 5.17 or 5.47 trains. From Sydenham to the city, it means catching the 4.55 , 5.25, 5.49 or 6.09 services.

What do you think? Is free off peak travel the answer to crowded trains and trams? Is this change any benefit to people with weekly or monthly tickets? What about bus and tram travel to the early train?


Dan said...

You have to start work when you have to start work. A free ticket on a train isn't going to change that and it's not going to encourage too many people to get work 2 hours early.

We need more services ALL DAY, not gimmicks to try to get people to travel when they don't want to.

Citizen-journalist said...

I think this initiative is great for peple who already work very early in the morning (ie shift workers, apprentices, hospitality workers) but I can't really see people who travel in the peak between 7:30 - 9:00am moving their trips back this early. Certainly I wouldn't personally. I normally travel at 7:45am and that's in order to have a coffee before work. I think what will happen will be that the first train that arrives in the city after 7:00am will empty out as some of those passengers move to an earlier train. This may lead to people shuffling back a bit to make use of the extra space but I can't see it having a huge impact.

If they had it before 7:30am then there might be some more significant changes. I'd think about doing that a couple of days a week.

Adam said...

I definitely think this idea is worth trialing to assess the impact it will have. I am not too sure how the grace period (after 7am) is going to work? What about tram services?
The solution is still more frequent services. I think most people don't mind paying their way if they get a good quality service.

Geoff said...

A free train from Malvern station at 6.30am? I think it sounds like a good idea, worth trialling it to see if peak load can be spread.

crackerau1@yahoo.com.au said...

The new timetable is disappointing. It seems that the Dandenong, Frankston and Sydenham lines are the fullest but only the Dandenong line gets an extra AM peak service! A couple of services will go onto the new Craigeburn service, which means that no new trains were purchased for this line extension! The trains being used are refurbished trains which have been bought back from people they were sold off too 4 years or so ago. In addition a whole bunch of Hitachi trains were scrapped about 4 years ago. All this with the government supposedly looking for a massive switch to Public transport (20% by 2020). Its about time they got serious and spent large money in an effort to switch traffic to rail, thus reducing congestion on the Monash, West Gate and Eastern freeways. More people would use it now if it was less crowded. Free travel before 7 am is fine, but you have to arrive at the destination by 7 am, so it won't much difference to the peak which is really 8-9 am. I don't think many people are going to arrive 1 to 2 hours early to save a few dollars.

ADrian said...

Most of the people that the free trains are targetted at will probably already have weekly or monthly tickets, so they'll get no saving unless they start buying five 2hour tickets a week for home trips.

Sounds like more of a gimmick than a useful "free" service to me.

nonscenic said...

It should be noted that there are no Eastern Freeway buses that arrive in the city before 7am. Thus this is another disadvantage for commuters from the "non-railway" suburban wedge.
There is also no incentive for periodical ticket holders to travel early.