Fair Move: 10 The benefits of change
Undertaking fare reform is not only about `the numbers’, such as increases to boardings and service volumes; it is about delivering practical and quantifiable benefits to individuals, households and the broader community and improving the performance of Melbourne’s public transport network.
To analyse the effects of fare reform, we have used the Melbourne Activity and Agent Based transport model, the MABM. Some of the MABM’s greatest strengths lie with its ability to test the impacts of policy and pricing reform, especially across our public transport network.
Infrastructure Victoria’s recent work on transport network pricing, Good Move: Fixing Transport Congestion, demonstrated the value of whole-of-network analysis, incorporating all aspects of road transport, public transport and parking. Our new work on public transport fares continues to model the impacts across the whole network, but focuses in greater detail on the network impacts and changes to public transport travel patterns across the state.
Across all our work on transport network pricing, Infrastructure Victoria recognises the importance of an approach that analyses the benefits and the challenges that come with reform for people. That means considering how public transport fare reform influences the travel patterns of people across different socio-demographic levels based on their income, where they live, how they travel (car or public transport) and why they travel (work, education, leisure and so on). This ensures that our analysis considers both the engineering capacity constraints across the network, but also the impact of reform to the lives of Victorians and their experience of travelling on the network.
While some of the recommendations in this paper are designed to be implemented in the short term, we also see value in considering the long-term impacts of public transport fare reform and have reported results on the MABM run for the year 2031. This gives us an insight into how demand on the network due to population growth, employment and infrastructure provision will play out and how public transport fares can be used to complement many of the transport infrastructure projects expected to be in operation by 2031 and earlier.
It is also in line with the work completed by the CIE, which was modelled in 2026 and included completion of the Metro Tunnel.
Travel in Greater Melbourne by 2031
By 2031, over 17.6 million trips are expected to occur across Greater Melbourne.
Despite investment in major public transport infrastructure projects, an expected 12.3 million of those trips (or 70% of all trips) will be made by private vehicle. Public transport will account for roughly 13% of all trips or approximately 2.3 million trips across the network.
Our analysis found that even though public transport makes up only 13% of all trips, reformed fares have the ability to improve the experience for all transport users as well as increase the public transport options available to travellers.
Fare reform impacts reach all Victorians, whether through reduced congestion on the roads from people switching from private vehicle to public transport or less crowding on our trains, trams and buses from people adjusting their trips, shifting out of the busiest peak periods.
Ultimately, fare reform would generate about $520 million in value each year for Victoria through more transport pricing options, reduced crowding and congestion and better environmental outcomes (See `Our modelling scenarios’, p.64-65).
Underpinning all of these travel movements is the city’s transport infrastructure. In Greater Melbourne alone, there are 17.9 million kilometres of roads, 2,100 train services, 7,000 tram services and 37,000 bus services transporting Victorians around the city and suburbs on a typical weekday.
 Note that regional fares are not discussed as part of the fare reform proposals in this paper, mostly due to the spatial limitations of the MABM covering minimal areas of regional Victoria. Other limitations of the MABM are discussed in Infrastructure Victoria (2020a).
 For strategic planning, major public transport projects incorporated in the modelling include the Metro Tunnel, Melbourne Airport Rail Link, Melton electrification, Wyndham Vale extension and Fishermans Bend Tram Link. Various road projects include North East Link, West Gate Tunnel, Mordialloc Bypass and upgrades to the M80, Monash Freeway and Calder Freeway. The inclusion of these projects is for modelling purposes only and they do not necessarily represent Infrastructure Victoria’s recommendations or commitments from the Victorian Government.
 Note that active transport also represents a large percentage of all trips (15.2%). This includes walking and cycling trips.
Our modelling scenarios
We modelled two main scenarios, both based in the year 2031.
The first scenario follows on from the current set of myki public transport fares set in Victoria, referred to as the Current System scenario. The second scenario introduces some of the fare reform recommendations outlined in this paper, referred to as the Fare Reform scenario.
Price setting in our illustrative scenarios
The Fare Reform scenario replaces the current flat public transport fare structure with a fare structure that provides stronger incentives for making better use of the network. The structure is based on the recommendations in this research paper and is outlined in Table 2.
The levels of fares are illustrative and were set with the constraint that fare revenue should not significantly change as a result of the reforms. This was done to show that significant fare reform could be done without adversely affecting fare revenue. In practice, government will have flexibility around the level of cost recovery alongside any proposed fare reform.
A model was compiled using VISTA (Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity) data and previous modelling outputs to ascertain what fares would result in levels of fare revenue similar to those generated by the current fare structure. Our MABM modelled levels of fare revenue using the Fare Reform scenario were down 14.4% compared to the Current System scenario.
This means that while we attempted to apply fare reform prices that would lead to government collecting an identical amount of revenue as under the current structure, there is a 14.4% difference between the two scenarios in the year 2031. Lost revenue from myki Pass and Early Bird ticketing was not included in the Current System scenario, however, so the level of revenue in the Current System scenario is over-estimated. This means the difference is smaller in practice, and we estimate that it is likely less than 11%.
Under the Fare Reform scenario, each mode has its own fare with buses being the cheapest, followed by trams, with trains being the most expensive of all three modes.
Buses are categorised into two categories, express and normal. Express buses are those that run direct CBD services and a selection of higher frequency and higher patronage services (for more detail, see Express bus services breakout box on page 32) consisting of routes 302, 303, 304, 305, 309, 318, 905, 906, 907, 908, 200 and 207. Normal buses refer to the rest of the metropolitan bus network.
Our modelling of public transport fares differs from that completed for Good Move: Fixing Transport Congestion. This is because more detailed analysis on public transport fares has been completed alongside modelling fares without road pricing and leaving parking charges as they are.
Additionally, distance-based fares have been replaced with zonal fares for their ease of understanding and more effective targeting of the social costs of additional public transport use. Because of the overlap with distance, mode and zonal based fares, short trips remain typically low cost, while longer trips tend to have a higher cost.
For trains, we propose a new zone to the metropolitan zone system, the City Zone, based on stations within and close to the Melbourne CBD. The City Zone covers Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations, and all City Loop and Metro Tunnel stations. Travel during the quieter non-peak peak periods is generally cheaper than during the peak, except for normal buses where a single fare is charged across the day. The Early Bird train ticket has also been replaced with an off-peak ticket. These refinements are summarised in Table 3.
All proposed fares are shown at a per-trip basis, as opposed to the current default myki Money two-hour fare.
The Fare Reform scenario includes additional surcharges and discounts offered based on how, when and where you travel. If you travel on a train during the most congested morning and afternoon peaks, you pay a higher fare. If you travel on a train during the peak, but in the opposite direction of most commuters, you only pay the cheaper off-peak fare.
Finally, trips using multiple modes are generally not penalised, with the user only paying the highest fare accrued from any of the individual modes used. The train-tram combination is the only exception to this rule, where a small surcharge is applied reflecting the capacity constraints of the heavy and light rail networks. Table 4 summarises these criteria.
 The modelling was carried out by Veitch Lister Consulting. All figures within this section are Infrastructure Victoria analysis derived from modelling results.
 It is important to note that the approach taken here is not an implicit criticism of the approach taken in Good Move: Fixing Transport Congestion. Instead it is an adaptation in response to (1) a focus on changes that can be made relatively quickly and easily (2) assuming that road pricing is not in place.
 Further technical specifications for the modelling of these fare elements are in Infrastructure Victoria (2020a).
What about me?
Here are some everyday examples to help illustrate the changes under our Fare Reform scenario and how they may impact Victorians.
Travels by train on concession, peak hours, non-peak direction: South Yarra Station to Caulfield Station.
- Current System $4.50 per day
- Fare Reform $2.50 per day
- Saving $2 per day (44% decrease)
Takes the train with a concession fare to attend university. With Fare Reform, because their travel is against the peak flow direction, they also enjoy discounted off-peak train fares. Their fare is cheaper as they are using services that can accommodate significant further patronage growth.
CBD office worker (inner Melbourne household)
Travels by train on city zone charge, peak fares: Hawthorn Station to CBD.
- Current System $9.00 per day
- Fare Reform Parliament Station $10.00 per day
- Extra $1 per day (11% increase)
Takes the train into the CBD from the inner suburbs for work. As they are travelling into and out of the City Zone during the peak, they pay slightly higher fares with Fare Reform. Higher fares are applied as their location of travel represents one of the most congested areas of the metropolitan train network. However, unlike with the current system, there now exists an incentive to change to a cheaper, and less busy period of travel. This choice incentivises some workers to shift their travel but also improves the travel experience of those that can afford to pay a higher fare (typically well-off on higher income earners) who continue to travel during the peak and experience reduced crowding and greater service reliability.
CBD office worker (with tram-train combination)
Travels by train and tram on city zone charge, peak fares, multimodal tram fare: Clifton Hill Station to Southern Cross Station (CBD).
- Current System $9.00 per day
- Fare Reform $12.50 per day
- Extra $3.50 per day (39% increase)
Takes the train into the CBD before taking a short tram trip to their office. Under Fare Reform, this additional short tram leg also incurs a small additional fee. Overall, they pay a higher fare to account for the fact that this commuter is travelling during the time of the day where passenger volumes are at their highest and is using the two most expensive modes. Although their fare is one of the highest increases under the Fare Reform scenario, they benefit from less crowded and more reliable services (as other travellers with lower-value trips and flexible commutes may have adjusted their time and mode of travel). Again, these users also have the option to shift their time of travel out of the peak or walk their tram trip should they wish to save on transport costs.
Travels by tram off-peak: Moonee Ponds to Parkville hospital precinct.
- Current System $9.00 per day
- Fare Reform $2.50 per day
- Saving $6.50 per day (72% decrease)
Takes the tram during off-peak periods to go to work. Under Fare Reform, they benefit from cheaper mode-specific fares and an off-peak discount, reflecting the fact that their service has additional capacity available for use without significant infrastructure or service improvements.
Travels by bus on cheap bus fares: Caulfield (local street) to Chadstone Shopping Centre.
- Current System $9.00 per day
- Fare Reform $2.50 per day
- Saving $6.50 per day (72% decrease)
Takes the local bus to a part-time job at Chadstone Shopping Centre. With Fare Reform, buses become one of the cheapest forms of transport, reflected in this user’s large saving in daily fares. There is no peak or off-peak fare for this bus service, so this worker is free to travel at the time that best suits their work needs.
CBD evening entertainment
Travels by train off-peak fare: Pascoe Vale Station to Flinders Street Station (CBD)
- Current System $9.00 return trip
- Fare Reform $5 return trip
- Saving $4.00 per day (44% decrease)
Takes the train into the CBD from the outer suburbs during the evening peak. As there is ample capacity on Melbourne’s train network heading into the city during the PM peak, travelling in the opposite direction of most commuters, they receive the directional discount (off-peak price) for their journey. Compared with the current system, they have greater incentive to take public transport into the city for evening dining and entertainment through heavily reduced fares.
Travels by train on peak train fares: Pakenham Station to Richmond Station.
- Current System $9.00 per day
- Fare Reform $8.00 per day
- Saving $1.00 per day (11% decrease)
Takes the train from Pakenham to Richmond station during peak periods. Currently they pay $9.00 per day. This changes to $8.00 under the Fare Reform scenario. As they get off the train at Richmond Station, outside the City Zone, they do not incur the additional City Zone charge.
Travels by bus on concession, cheap bus fare: Footscray (local street) to Footscray Plaza shopping centre
- Current System $4.50 per day
- Fare Reform $1.25 per day
- Saving $3.25 per day (72% decrease)
Takes the local bus service from their home to Footscray Plaza shopping centre. While they received a concession on their current myki, a return trip (daily) would cost $4.50. After fare reform, as they are taking a bus (the cheapest form of public transport), their daily fare reduces significantly to $1.25.
CBD weekend shopping day
Travel by tram on off-peak tram after removal of the free tram zone: CBD (east) to CBD (west)
- Current System $9.00 return trip
- Fare Reform $2.50 return trip
- Saving $6.50 per day (72% decrease)
Takes the tram into the CBD on the weekend to visit Bourke Street Mall for shopping and dining. Under Fare Reform, off-peak fares apply to all weekend travel so their trip is significantly discounted. This is because public transport demand is not as high as it is during the weekday peaks. Compared to prices under the current system, the new fare applicable is only a fraction of what they would originally pay under the current system.
Fare reform shifts demands on the transport network
Under our Fare Reform scenario, travel during peak periods into the Melbourne CBD by train is more expensive than under the current myki system. For almost all other types of travel, it is cheaper for Melburnians to get around. This section outlines the impact on the transport network as a result of reforming fares. All figures within this section represent trips on a typical weekday.
The Fare Reform scenario makes taking public transport cheaper for around 71% of users who continue to use public transport in Greater Melbourne. Fare Reform also resulted in a 5.6% increase in public transport users, with 56,620 new public transport users on a typical weekday when compared to the Current System. All figures in this section represent trips on a typical weekday.
Our modelling also shows that a proportion of the population is willing to make the shift across to public transport from private cars due to more attractive fares. In the morning peak alone, some 18,200 car trips are taken off the roads (similar to the number of cars travelling across the Swan Street Bridge towards the city in a day), while during the course of the off-peak (day) period, over 50,500 car trips are removed from the network. Overall, more than 96,000 car trips are taken off Victorian roads every day – that’s more than the number of cars that travel through the Burnley Tunnel over a 24 hour period.
Most of these trips are transferred onto the public transport network. Figure 29 represents this reduction in car trips and increase in public transport use throughout the day.
This change from private vehicle to public transport isn’t the only impact on the network as a result of fare reform. Victorians also change the mode of public transport they use, with changes to bus, tram and train boardings across the day.
For trains, fare reform introduces an additional higher priced City Zone, along with discounted off-peak fares. Across the busiest morning and afternoon peak periods, trains experience over 30,000 less boardings.
The largest reduction is experienced during the afternoon peak, with a 7.4% reduction in boardings. As a result of cheaper fares outside of the peak, boardings increase during the off-peak (day) and off-peak (night) periods by 2.3% and 3.1%, respectively (approximately 17,000 more boardings combined). This can be seen in Figure 30.
The tram network experiences an overall increase of over 20,000 new boardings across a typical day. This is most likely caused by tram fares being cheaper in general, with non-peak tram fares being almost up to 75% cheaper in comparison to current levels. While tram boardings decrease during the peaks (due to peak tram fares and additional fares for tram travel with train travel), boardings outside of the peaks increase between by 4-5%. This can be seen in Figure 31.
The final mode to consider is the bus network – specifically, normal and express buses. As shown in the fare table (Table 3), express buses feature peak and off-peak pricing while normal buses are on a single fare. As a result, there is higher boarding demand on the express bus mode during non-peak periods (increasing by over 14% during the off-peak (day)) compared to a smaller increase in boardings during peak periods where higher fares are charged – though still lower than fares in the current system. Normal buses experience consistent increases regardless of the time period. These results are shown in Figure 32. Overall, over 93,000 additional bus boardings occur under the Fare Reform scenario during a typical weekday.
In summary, these changes in boarding numbers demonstrate the relationship between prices and people’s willingness to shift to different time periods or modes. Essentially, through variation of fares, travellers are offered greater choice. This is discussed in detail in the following section.
 This includes the effect of total fare revenue being slightly lower in the Fare Reform scenario than the Current System scenario, see page 56 for details.
 Note that while it doesn’t look like many additional trips occur on public transport during the PM peak, there is a material shift between public transport modes during this PM peak, most notably to bus services.
Who changes their travel when offered greater choice?
One of the clear benefits of fare reform is that Victorians have greater choice in the cost of their travel. While the cost of driving a private vehicle may remain the same with or without fare reform, most public transport services become more affordable.
To help demonstrate the equity impacts of fare reform, we use a definition called equivalised total household income (HIED), following guidelines from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. By dividing the population equally into five income groups based on HIED called quintiles, we are able to determine the effects of fare reform on the lowest group, highest group and all groups in between.
As discussed in the previous section, we have demonstrated that public transport begins to become more attractive through improved fare choice, resulting in increased boardings across Greater Melbourne. But who is contributing to the extra public transport trips? Figure 33 illustrates that it is overwhelmingly those in the lower equivalised household income quintiles contributing to this increase in boardings.
Note that unlike the introduction of pricing reform such as road pricing, the lowest income quintile continues to have the choice of travelling via private vehicle or active for no change in cost.
As a result of fare reform, these Melburnians now also have the option to take public transport, which previously may have been prohibitively expensive for the type of trip they wished to take.
The modelling also likely under-reports the benefits for this group, as they are now also able to make new trips which were previously too expensive, and the MABM does not have the capability to model new trips.
 For a detailed description of equivalised total household income (HIED), see: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/2901.0Chapter31502016
Who benefits the most from fare reform?
Does mode-specific pricing unfairly disadvantage certain groups of the population?
Under the Fare Reform scenario (see Table 3), trains are the most expensive mode of transport (although prices are still lower than the current system with the exception of travel to/from the City Zone in the peak periods), followed by trams and express buses and finally normal buses being the cheapest mode.
As illustrated in Figure 34, our modelling has found that the lowest income quintile sees the greatest percentage increase in normal bus boardings (+32%), followed by express buses and trams. Train boardings reduce by around 1% across all income quintiles, most likely influenced by the higher cost of trains compared to other modes.
In terms of the benefits associated with fare reform, the graph shows that it is the lower income quintiles who benefit the most (noting that within the MABM, many of these lower income earners financially benefit the most as they take up the option to save money and shift their mode or time of travel). Understandably, it is the highest income quintile that represents the smallest percentage change in boardings as these people will most likely be the least price-sensitive when it comes to fares.
These results show averaged boardings across the full 24-hour period. But how do different income groups respond to fares at different times of the day, specifically peak fares?
All modes except for normal buses have a built-in peak fare surcharge in the Fare Reform scenario. Similar to how modespecific pricing benefits the lowest quintiles the most and highest quintiles the least, peak and non-peak pricing follows a similar trend.
Figure 35 shows the increase in boardings as a result of peak surcharges on the five income quintiles. Off-peak travel (attracting the cheapest fare) induces the greatest increase in demand from the lowest quintiles (+13%) while also increasing peak travel (+3%). The most likely cause of increased peak travel for the lower income quintiles is that there is no peak fare for normal buses, and express bus and tram fares are also lower than under the Current System, resulting in higher service utilisation.
One of the drawbacks of looking at peak and off-peak fares through averaging is that it mixes the impacts of fares that increase for some modes (CBD train travel) and fares that reduce for other modes (tram and express bus).
Figure 36 shows the current levels of AM peak train trips into the CBD. Under the Current System, individuals in the highest income quintile are five times more likely than the lowest income quintile group to be travelling on a train into the CBD during the morning peak. For context, during all other times of the day (excluding the morning peak), individuals from the highest income quintile are only two times more likely than the lowest income quintile group to be travelling on a train into the CBD.
If fare reform were to be implemented, Figure 37 shows that the largest shift of trips out of the AM peak is from those in the middle three quintiles, or the lowest quintile based on proportional shift (%).
This is driven by their higher sensitivity to price, with many people taking advantage of the savings that the new price incentive provides to shift their trip, but some also shifting due to the higher peak pricing for CBD trains in the peak than under the Current System scenario.
In summary, through fare reform users are provided with greater choice in how and when they travel through the variation of prices by time of day and mode. The reforms increase public transport usage, primarily on modes and times where this increased patronage can be best accommodated.
Those on lower incomes benefit the most from fare changes, with a significant increase in public transport trips for those on lower incomes, as well as lower fares paid on average. Lower fares in the off-peak, especially on buses and trams, makes public transport a viable option for travellers that may have never have considered taking public transport. New trips which were previously too expensive will also be generated. Due to the limitations of MABM they are not shown in the results, underestimating the benefits of reform.
How does fare reform change the cost of public transport?
The previous section demonstrated the increased patronage that occurs, especially from lower income quintiles, as a result of fare reform. While the fare table clearly shows many cheaper alternatives compared with myki travel today, our analysis determines how this affects the average daily public transport fares people would pay under the Fare Reform scenario.
It should be noted that there are no explicit distance-based fares under the Fare Reform scenario. The only proxy for distance based fares is the current metropolitan zone system, to which we have added the new City Zone as part of fare reform. In effect, this is the connection linking how far you travel with how much you pay. With fare reform, travel solely within a zone is cheaper than travelling through multiple zones. Therefore, for example, those who live in areas of Zone 2 (typically the middle to outer areas of metropolitan Melbourne) have the opportunity to take advantage of lower fares should they only travel within their zone.
As discussed, fare revenue was slightly down under the Fare Reform scenario. Figure 39 shows the changes in fare paid between the Current System and Fare Reform scenarios after approximately adjusting for the difference.
Figure 38 shows that by shifting to more sophisticated fares, almost all travellers in the bottom three quintiles, no matter where they live, end up paying less for public transport than they would without reform. There is also a clear pattern in which higher income earners end up saving the least or paying slightly more than they do today.
The reason most people can pay less while still generating similar levels of revenue is that there are 5.6% more people (an additional 56,620 per week day) using public transport under the Fare Reform scenario compared to the Current System, so average fares can be lower to generate similar levels of revenue.
As a result of fare reform and cheaper fares across tram, bus and off-peak trains, there are two shifts that can occur. First, users of public transport who have other public transport options may have an incentive to switch to cheaper modes. Secondly, users may shift to public transport from other modes entirely, such as from private vehicles.
As indicated earlier, there is a significant shift of users from private vehicle to public transport under the Fare Reform scenario.
Figure 39 plots this shift on a graph, demonstrating that of private vehicle drivers who shift to public transport, the highest proportion again comes from those in the lowest income quintiles, reducing in percentage as the quintile group increases.
While at first, a 2.5% shift doesn’t seem like a huge change – given the large number of car trips made each day across Greater Melbourne – it represents another 23,748 car trips taken off roads across the city (more than the average daily traffic for Queens Bridge in Melbourne City), for the lowest income quintile alone.
 An increase to the fare paid was applied to all users to approximate the case of revenue-neutral fare reform. This gives an indication of who would benefit from revenue-neutral fare reform. However, this does not take into account the change in trips that may be induced by an increase in fares or the different mode and trip types across regions which would affect the results, most likely in a minor way. See Infrastructure Victoria (2020a) for original output.
How does public transport demand shift across Greater Melbourne?
We’ve demonstrated that public transport use generally increases as a result of Fare Reform, but which areas in Melbourne experience the greatest increases or decreases in demand? The following analysis uses Local Government Area (LGA) boundaries.
Figure 40 maps out the average change in public transport boardings across Greater Melbourne during the peak periods (both AM and PM). Shades of blue demonstrate a percentage increase in public transport boardings while shades of red demonstrate a decrease in public transport boardings.
The middle and outer ring of LGAs such as Kingston City, Manningham City, Hume City, and Wyndham City all see public transport boardings growth of above 6%. Knox City sees particularly high boarding growth of around 13%. This is most likely linked to increased use of bus services in the area, or an increase in demand along the Belgrave train line that intersects the Knox City LGA.
Figure 41 compares the boardings across Melbourne during the non-peak periods (during the middle of the day and during the night).
The key message from Figure 40 is that most LGAs across Melbourne (except for the inner city LGAs and some outer LGAs with limited connections to metropolitan public transport services) experience an increase in public transport boardings under the Fare Reform scenario. As a result of discounted non-peak travel and the introduction of the new City Zone for trains, it is the Inner Melbourne LGAs that experience a general decline in boardings during peak periods (between 1-7%).
This reduction is perhaps also due to the fact that these LGAs already exhibit some of the highest public transport mode share percentages, meaning that most residents who can take public transport do so already, while others are either changing to active transport (and possibly private vehicle use) or simply changing their time of travel (into non-peak periods).
Boardings generally increase across the whole of Greater Melbourne outside of peak periods. Some of the LGAs that experience the greatest uptake of public transport are Manningham City, Knox City and Casey City. Boarding increases in these LGAs all record growth levels above 10%. Manningham has one of the highest percentage increases in boarding outside peak periods, recording a 12% increase in boardings. This is most likely linked to high use of the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit and the cheaper express bus fares predominately servicing the area.
How does demand across the network change with travel patterns?
The Fare Reform scenario demonstrates how Melburnians might shift their travel patterns by changing how they get to their destinations and when they arrive. This section explores the effects of fare reform not on individuals, but on the transport network infrastructure.
One factor to keep in mind during the following section is that within the model, people only make trips that are feasible based on individual time and mode preferences and conditions. This means the model attempts to recreate the experience of travel across the network from the time it takes for a service to reach its destination to the number of people, or capacity, each service provides.
No traveller is assigned to a trip that is infeasible, such as attempting to board a tram already at capacity.
While the model continues to demonstrate an improved transport network as a result of Fare Reform, there may be some modes, routes and times of the day where additional services will be required to accommodate a shift in travel patterns.
The most distinctive shifts in behaviour across the rail network happen across both temporal and spatial aspects. Peak fares manage demand during the busy periods of the day while the introduction of the City Zone also adjusts traveller demand.
The average number of people who travel by train along each section of track every hour (passenger volumes – average hour) is shown in Figure 42 and reinforces the large magnitude of trips heading into the inner city during the AM peak period. The darker the line colour, the more people who travel along that section of rail during an average hour.
By 2031, under the current system, over 183,000 train trips are expected to be made in the AM peak into the CBD, Docklands and Southbank areas of Melbourne alone.
Therefore, high volumes travelling through the Metro Tunnel, City Loop and around Richmond, South Yarra and North Melbourne stations are expected.
The main intention of peak train fares is to shift travel away from the morning peak (and especially travel into the City Zone) into either peak shoulders or non-peak periods.
Figure 43 and Figure 44 show that as a result of Fare Reform, train volumes successfully shift out of the peak periods with some users shifting into non-peak periods.
Represented by the shades of blue (percentage decrease) in Figure 43 above, train volumes are down across much of the network during the AM peak, with the largest reductions around stations in the City Loop, Metro Tunnel and Richmond Stations. The thicker the line here, the greater the change in number of travellers. Reductions in patronage vary from around 5-7% across these links.
Interestingly, patronage in the outer sections of the metropolitan train network experiences a slight increase, shown by the dotted circles in Figure 44. This is perhaps due to cheaper Zone 2 fares (even during peak periods) and users who may board city-bound trains but alight prior to the busier sections of the network – ultimately benefiting from cheaper daily fares.
In contrast, Figure 45 shows the change in train volumes during off-peak periods as a result of fare reform. Attracted by significantly cheaper fares ($2.50 with off-peak discount), induced additional patronage occurs across the network and in both inbound and outbound directions. In stark contrast to the 5-7% reductions during the AM peak, some links in the off-peak periods experience increases of over 11%.
Tram volumes across the city follow a similar pattern to those across the metropolitan train network. Volumes increase on city-bound services along most major tram routes as they approach the Melbourne CBD.
While both peak and off-peak fares for trams are still cheaper with fare reform than under the current system, peak and off-peak pricing still influences people’s travel patterns and decisions made through the course of the day, as shown in Figure 46 and Figure 47.
Comparing the tram volume change from the Current System scenario to Fare Reform scenario for both AM peak and Off peak (day) periods gives further insight into how demand is spread across Melbourne’s tram network. For the AM peak, outer sections of most tram lines experience an increase (red lines) in boardings while some inner city sections experience a decrease (blue lines). Some of this shift is expected to be related to trams being cheaper than trains and therefore attracting trips that have been substituted to tram from train.
Another explanation is that because there is now an additional multimodal fee for boarding a tram after a train, more train commuters are simply walking to their destination instead of crowding out CBD trams. While under the current system the Swanston Street/St Kilda Road corridor is one of the busiest tram corridors, sections of this corridor actually experiences a decrease in patronage of over 20% as a result of fare reform during the morning peak.
This decrease could potentially be related to commuters either shifting mode or shifting their time of travel to the non-peak periods in order to pay a slightly cheaper fare, or again, reduced tram use with train due to the additional multimodal fare. However, it should also be noted that patronage along sections of the Swanston Street/St Kilda Road corridor also experience increases of over 10%, 80 especially during off-peak periods.
One of the issues that comes with increased boardings, especially during peak periods, is that if trams are already nearing capacity during these periods, crowding can become problematic, leading to services operating at crush capacity – where commuters can no longer get on a service.
Our transport modelling considered the capacity of vehicles, whether train, tram or bus. Ultimately, much of the increased patronage on tram services is catered for by routes and services that are relatively uncongested in the MABM.
The final mode where fare reform improves pricing is across the normal bus and express bus network. As distinct from the largely radial train and tram networks, the bus network plays a predominately orbital role when patronage volumes are shown on a map (Figure 48). This is with the exception of the high-volume DART services that run along the Eastern Freeway, serving CBD commuters in Doncaster and surrounding suburbs. Another notable service is the 601, a shuttle between Monash University Clayton Campus and the nearby Huntingdale Station, which carries over 2,300 travellers in the AM peak alone.
As expected, when both express bus and normal bus fares are made considerably cheaper, patronage across the bus network grows significantly, shown in Figure 49. Such a large increase in use could contribute to localised crowding on some routes.
The relatively low cost of additional buses (compared to trams and trains) means that additional services could be deployed with a service uplift to help alleviate crowding and meet demand along such corridors.
As described in earlier sections of this paper, car trips reduce across Greater Melbourne by over 96,000 when comparing the Current System with the Fare Reform scenario. Figure 50 represents this change in road volumes on a spatial level. Busy links that see a decrease in traffic include major arterial roads such as St Georges Road in the north, Dandenong Road and St
Kilda Road in the south east, and inner city links such as Footscray Road and Racecourse Road. There are however certain links that also experience increases in traffic, like the Monash Freeway – whether this relates to re-routed freight, private vehicle changes from fare reform or internal variations within the MABM remains unclear.
This illustrates an important point around the limitations or influence of public transport pricing. While it can influence behaviour on the roads, until there is a direct price for using the roads (as explored in Good Move: Fixing Transport Congestion), there will always be localised adjustments and imbalances across the road network.