Rural public transport service has limited coverage, sparse service, and requires cross subsidy for equity and development

Submitted by john on Tue, 17/12/2019 - 14:40
map of victoria

Public transport is scheduled for sparse service, particularly in the country, where commuting to Melbourne has the best service at ½ to 2 hour frequency, other services to Melbourne are daily, circulation within major towns is hourly and service between towns is weekly.

Although not an issue for Melbourne, the frequency and connectivity of public transport in rural areas of Victoria could not be described as a reasonable service. Whereas trains and buses can only recover 22% of costs in Melbourne, in rural areas with longer distances and lower patronage, the outcome is lower frequencies, if there is a service at all.

Map from VicRoads.

In locations where there is only one bus trip per week, it is not even practical to go shopping. Low cost transport should be considered a basic right, for equity. Podcars servicing 1,000 homes would be profitable, but if the network is extended as a developmental initiative, by regulation, then operation of the network at cost would extend the scope of the service, providing cheap instant transport access 24/7 to the entire rural area of Victoria, for schools, shops, health, employment, business, freight and tourism. Extending the rural network to improve equity will eventually reduce the overall podcar profit to 20%. 

Requirements:  To provide immediate service 24/7 for all rural areas: investor profits must be limited to 15%; land owner rents limited to 5%; and the balance invested to extend the network. Areas with 1,000 households can recover costs. The further network provision should be funded as a developmental initiative, including accessibility for remote areas and for tourism. Destinations should include local schools, shops and employment. For schools, a podcar network, the size of the Highway system, as mapped, is envisaged, with feeder routes in the form of off-road cycle paths for safety. Podcars can carry bikes. Provision for profit, rent, depreciation, and the high standard of operation will limit the size of the podcar network. Maintenance to a graduated, but high, standard will address depreciation.

Conclusion for Objectives and Requirements
For the objectives of road safety; congestion removal; fast trip times; profitability; job creation; reliability; and CO2 reduction; there are practical requirements that will dramatically deliver desirable outcomes. For the objectives of security; amenity; and rural service; there are practical requirements that will deliver major improvements in outcomes, far better than the existing tolerated conditions, even if less than optimal.
Action is warranted on every one of these ten issues.