Friday, March 10, 2006

Transport alternatives during the Games

With the increased patronage tipped for the Commonwealth Games it has been officially recommended that commuters take a different route, travel earlier or later or work at home during the Games.

The increased patronage is likely to be distributed from early morning to late at night, helped by substantial evening service increases on trains, trams and buses.

Even if the percentage patronage increase is smaller during already-busy peak periods, this may lead to crowding on already stretched services. Passengers have already been warned that they may not be able to board the first service that comes along.

Though the bringing forward of school holidays will help, my guess is that the short, intense 7-9am morning peak will present more challenges than the 4-7pm afternoon peak, which tends to be flatter and longer.

So with this in mind, and following the advice above, what should people do to ensure they get a seat or at least a standing spot?

Assuming that you don't wish to drive (which is being discouraged anyway), can't alter the time of travel and don't want to stay homebound, the only choice remaining is to take a different route.

The official material offers little guidance on the specifics, so here's some tips to get you started:

1. If you have a choice of a shorter railway line or a longer railway line, try the shorter line. The theory here is that as the train on the shorter line will have just left its terminus it won't have 20+ kilometres worth of passengers already on board, so you've got a better chance of a seat.

2. As above, but try other modes. Many suburbs around 10km from the CBD have a choice of tram or train. Again boarding near the tram terminus will guarantee a seat at the cost of a longer ride. But sometimes it's worth it.

3. Consider a less-known service, which in Melbourne is typically a bus. It might be slower and less frequent, but again could be worth it.

4. Combine several of the above, for instance a bus or tram to a different station or even to a tram or bus route.

5. To plan the above, a $2.00 Public Transport Map (available Met Shop & Premium Stations) is helpful. Add a Melways, Meltrip and updates from Metlink, and you'll get there quicker than almost anyone else.

Happy travelling during the Games!

Update 27 March, 2006: As it turned out, public transport performed well over the games period and once again proved its worth in efficiently transporting large crowds.

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