For a Better Brisbane

The Melbourne Tram Network: blowing SEQ transport patronage away

Editor note: Lots of interesting discussion about trams and light rail in the news today. Due to this, this post has been released early. There is a difference between trams and light rail, this will be explained in a later post.

The BrisUrbane Blog reads in a Brisbane City Council flyer that “buses are the lead mode” and that patronage was higher than Queensland Rail’s heavy rail network.

So what conclusions are readers being invited to draw here? Surely not that ‘buses are better’, as that would be an unsound comparison between modes, simply because they serve different functions and have different levels of service. This point was touched on in an earlier post. And there is no bus in Brisbane that can carry 1000 passengers in one go or travel at 130 km/hour or has a toilet on board. Buses are also simply not suitable or fast enough for long distance travel to Ipswich, Caboolture, Sunshine and the Gold Coast, for example.

If anything, the low patronage on the rail network probably indicates poor frequency and a lack of connecting bus services. Who wants to wait half an hour for a train and have to drive to the station?

The TransLink website states that in 2008-2009 181.9 million passenger journeys were made. Sounds big doesn’t it? But Melbourne’s Yarra Trams, which runs the heritage city circle tram line and 27 other tram routes recorded 178 million passenger trips (as of March 2009). Yarra Tram’s most recent figures for 2009-2010 has journeys at 180 million.

So in other words, the Melbourne tram network is carrying almost as many passenger journeys as:

  • All of Brisbane’s buses, busways and BUZ buses
  • All the other TransLink buses in the entire South East Queensland area
  • All the QR trains on the rail network (from Gympie North to Varsity Lakes in the south and west to Ipswich)
  • All the CityCats and CityFerries

The difference- about 2 million trips or so, is equal to the annual travel on a single BUZ route, say BUZ route 111.

And it gets more interesting- Brisbane has just over 1000 buses, while Melbourne has about 500 or so trams. Brisbane transport has over 1700 drivers, while Yarra Trams has over 1150.  So not only does Yarra Trams manage to carry well over twice the number of journeys than Brisbane’s buses do, it manages to do so using half the number of vehicles and with less drivers than Brisbane does.


Yarra TramsFacts & Figures and Our Achievements (figures yet to be updated with current year figures)
TransLinkKey Facts & Figures
BTbuses.infoAbout BT


Written by .

August 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm

One Response

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  1. after hearing some of the public comment on radio this arvie its clear that brissie needs to hear about lite-LRT, advances from in-road transmission, and the great new carriages. plus the basics about incredible increases in passenger volumes and increased frequency of service.
    thanks again for your efforts to share this good news.
    Brisbane needs LRT.


    August 17, 2010 at 9:44 pm

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