One of his points was that patronage on the Sunbury/Watergardens and Belgrave/Lilydale lines had dropped. Fortunately he included his spreadsheet. On closer examination the drop is because of a shorter time period between the first and last train counted. For example in May 2013 the time difference between the first and last train counted was 41 minutes, whereas in May 2011 it was 50 minutes. Adjusting for these differences in the length of observations reveals the following growth rates over 2 years in peak travel (passengers arriving per minute on each line), for trains counted that arrive between 8am and 9am:
Glen Waverley -1%
South Morang/Hurstbridge 10%
These data could do with more analysis to account for passengers arriving just before 8am or just after 9am, and on services between 8 and 9 am that were not included in the count (eg a Watergardens service arriving at North Melbourne at 8:55 was not included in 2013, but an 8:51 service was included in 2011).
So these data show healthy growth rates, which should drive more investment in the system. It most likely shows a continuing increase in inner city employment (with economic agglomeration benefits) and rail mode share (with space and environmental benefits). But (oh) the East-west tunnel suddenly seems more important.