Melbourne Airport SkyBus might be better than a rail link, says transport expert

 

News article: Melbourne Airport SkyBus might be better than a rail link, says transport expert

Melburnians who believe the city desperately needs a rail link to the airport should be careful what they wish for.

  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Disagree.  Rail would be far more frequent than the 479 bus will ever be.  And it would run earlier and later even if it wasn't 24/7.

And another thing - trains are generally better for carrying luggage on-board.
Carnot
To add to that, trains will be able to carry far more passengers than buses ever could.

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  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE

Politicians should be few we removed from infrastructure decisions and the staff numbers in vicroads halved.
freightgate
People a few practicalities

As they (Pollies) control the cash flow, the above is unlikely to happen.

Sydney will always be the main airport and if a 2nd one is built, Sydney combined will always be the main arrival city for international.

The freeway will also always be the main mode of transport to the airport carrying at least 20mpa with or without rail. Even if you had a railway and the freeway became blocked, will rail suddenly be able to handle a 5 fold increase in ridership? And you don't build a rail line for a 1 in 10 year event.

Sydney and Brisbane only got airport lines due to private investment, both went broke in some form due to slow take up. 15 years on business is very much improved, but still continue to be many times above standard ticket prices. Full Private investment for a Melbourne Airport line requires ticket prices to be around $25-30 one way.

Are Victorians willing to pay? Probably not.

At the last election the people choose a party without an airport railway on the agenda, the people have spoken!

As I said before, Adelaide will have a rail connection (LR) to the airport before Melbourne.
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

Disagree.  Rail would be far more frequent than the 479 bus will ever be.  And it would run earlier and later even if it wasn't 24/7.

And another thing - trains are generally better for carrying luggage on-board.
Carnot
You have missed the point.  Rail won't get you to where the 479 goes.  However, you were referring to connecting to the Bendigo line.  Thus, your limiting factor is the Bendigo rail timetable.  It doesn't matter if its rail or bus that runs between the airport and city, your times are set by the Bendigo train. Skybus, with its ten minute frequency will better suit fitting in with the Bendigo trains.

Any thoughts that airport trains would run all night are delusional.
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

To add to that, trains will be able to carry far more passengers than buses ever could.
railblogger
Which demonstrates that we currently do not have enough demand for trains.

When a bus departs Southern Cross terminal every 30 seconds for the airport, we could say we have enough people travelling to require a train every 10 minutes.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Which demonstrates that we currently do not have enough demand for trains.
DalyWaters
Why do you think that is?
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

The fact of the matter is that the biggest growth in Melb Airport patronage is international travelers.  So for many the only option is to get herded on to a Skybus that gets stuck on the Tullamarine Freeway/tollroad in peak hour...

The other options are overpriced and dodgy taxis, or have a friend spend a fortune on parking while waiting to pick you up and then get stuck on same aforementioned freeway/tollroad.  Lovely.

When I was a very frequent overseas business traveler last decade, I had no hesitation using trains in places like Hong Kong and Frankfurt - fast, efficient, reasonably priced, comfortable, convenient, reliable.  If only Melbourne was as easy!
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

Why do you think that is?
railblogger
Skybus provide a 70 passenger bus every ten minutes to the airport.

That means 420 passengers per hour require transport to the airport.  

That means demand for one train per hour, two at best.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Skybus provide a 70 passenger bus every ten minutes to the airport.

That means 420 passengers per hour require transport to the airport.  

That means demand for one train per hour, two at best.
DalyWaters
Meanwhile the freeway struggles to cope, and will only get worse. If I rembmer correctly, Melbourne Airport expects to handle some 60 million passengers 20 years from now.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Skybus runs an efficient and very frequent service through most of the day.  At each end there is almost always a vehicle loading which means no waiting and little uncertainty.  It also runs through the night.  It is permitted to use the emergency lanes on the freeway if others are at a standstill and does so to get through when accidents delay regular traffic.  The times when Skybus is forced off the freeway to other roads are rather few.  It often makes the end-to-end trip in the advertised 20 minutes though by no means always.  In my experience 20 - 24 minutes is typical.

Any rail service is unlikely to offer a 10 minute headway on a dedicated line and will not achieve  20 minute journey time on an existing route with intermediate stops.

Rail is unlikely to improve upon what Skybus does now and to expect that it will offer City-to-airport fares at Myki rates is unrealistic.  Premium fares will apply as surely as they do in Sydney and Brisbane and to the Skybus service now.  

Improvements have been made to connect the suburbs with the airport in recent years where formerly there were only very infrequent buses on routes 478, 479 and 500.  Now there is a 15-minute headway Smart Bus through most of the day crossing the northern, eastern and southern suburbs and while I doubt anyone uses it end to end the links are there.

The one missing link is a tram extension from Airport West via Melrose Drive.  

I don't see that as a quick City-to-airport option; it wouldn't be.  I see it as a close-headway 20-hour a day service linking the airport, the long-term car park, the private car parks and other ancillary locations along Melrose Drive and the suburbs along tram route 59.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Skybus runs an efficient and very frequent service through most of the day.  At each end there is almost always a vehicle loading which means no waiting and little uncertainty.  It also runs through the night.  It is permitted to use the emergency lanes on the freeway if others are at a standstill and does so to get through when accidents delay regular traffic.  The times when Skybus is forced off the freeway to other roads are rather few.  It often makes the end-to-end trip in the advertised 20 minutes though by no means always.  In my experience 20 - 24 minutes is typical.

Any rail service is unlikely to offer a 10 minute headway on a dedicated line and will not achieve  20 minute journey time on an existing route with intermediate stops.

Rail is unlikely to improve upon what Skybus does now and to expect that it will offer City-to-airport fares at Myki rates is unrealistic.  Premium fares will apply as surely as they do in Sydney and Brisbane and to the Skybus service now.  

Improvements have been made to connect the suburbs with the airport in recent years where formerly there were only very infrequent buses on routes 478, 479 and 500.  Now there is a 15-minute headway Smart Bus through most of the day crossing the northern, eastern and southern suburbs and while I doubt anyone uses it end to end the links are there.

The one missing link is a tram extension from Airport West via Melrose Drive.  

I don't see that as a quick City-to-airport option; it wouldn't be.  I see it as a close-headway 20-hour a day service linking the airport, the long-term car park, the private car parks and other ancillary locations along Melrose Drive and the suburbs along tram route 59.
Gwiwer
We all know trains typically attract more bodies than buses, so a train may pickup another 25% or so but Skybus itself won't fail just because of a railway line. Looking further nth as a guide, 15-20% of total airport patronage is reasonable to expect within 5 years of operation. Due to extra distance to airport, location of airport relative to Melbourne suburban foot print and Mel's high use of PT, 20% maybe reasonable. This is 6mpa or +16,000 per day.

Using Melbourne typical railway timetabling, you'd expect trains to start running around 5AM running 20min through to 7:30/8pm at night after which 30min to 11pm-midnight. 24hr operation is unrealistic and impractical.

So maybe a total of 50 trains a day in one direction moving 8000 people in one direction, roughly +160 people per train. Probably similar to Brisbane which runs mostly 30min apart from peak when 15min comes to play and ceases around 8pm.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Skybus provide a 70 passenger bus every ten minutes to the airport.

That means 420 passengers per hour require transport to the airport.  

That means demand for one train per hour, two at best.
DalyWaters

This does not take into account people aren't always happy to take a bus.  trains at a 15 min interval would be sufficient (perhaps 10) direct services to the airport on zone 1 myki would be far more appealing than any bus service.  Stop at Sunshine a must.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
This does not take into account people aren't always happy to take a bus.  trains at a 15 min interval would be sufficient (perhaps 10) direct services to the airport on zone 1 myki would be far more appealing than any bus service.  Stop at Sunshine a must.
bevans
Trains at a one minute interval, where each passenger got paid $1000 every time they made a trip, would be far more appealing - to prospective passengers - than your idea.

Doesn't make it a good idea though.  

Perhaps thinking needs to go a bit beyond "what is appealing"?

For those advocating a heavily subsidised airport link - which existing rail passenger services are you willing to sacrifice?
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
For those advocating a heavily subsidised airport link - which existing rail passenger services are you willing to sacrifice?
donttellmywife
None. This is what I propose be done.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Simple solution,

Average subsidy in Melbourne rail transport is I believe 65% (open to correction).

Govt to go 35 year BOOT PPP with airport line.

Govt offers a reasonable capital incentive of say $500m toward construction costs and defines overall scope and interaction with existing infrastructure. Rest if open book. They can buy their own dedicated Airport sets (ie more luggage space, facilities such as dunnies etc) if they want but they must be suitable to operate on other lines and vice versa.

Operator has full control over operation and timetable. Service is a dedicated Airport service and not a feeder service like Brisbane/Sydney.

Govt's capital cost incentive (as mentioned above ~$500m) is paid at specified mile stones and penalities and bonuses apply for meeting or failing to meet same. Project time line to completion is 2020.

Govt also offers ongoing subsidy, not exceeding 35% or what ever average cost is per ticket is, maximum! govt also offers incentives to reduce the subsidy and recovery of capital incentive.

Cost/risk to taxpayer is minimised and affordable. If there are no bites by interested parties, then its not a viable project. Simple!
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
None. This is what I propose be done.
railblogger
Which isn't anything like what bevan's is suggesting.  He wants it to be cheap as chips - "zone 1 myki".  So how's bevan's proposing that this thing be funded?

A pretty good indication of whether people really think something is a worthy idea is how much they are personally willing to pay for it.  So bevans currently thinks a trip to the airport is worth about the same as a cup of coffee (in fact, worth probably a bit less than what you'd pay for a cup of coffee at the airport).  Relative to what people currently actually pay to travel to the airport (say $18 for skybus, maybe $60 for a taxi) he clearly doesn't think this thing is very worthy at all.
  8077 Chief Train Controller

Location: Crossing the Rubicon
A pretty good indication of whether people really think something is a worthy idea is how much they are personally willing to pay for it.  So bevans currently thinks a trip to the airport is worth about the same as a cup of coffee (in fact, worth probably a bit less than what you'd pay for a cup of coffee at the airport).  Relative to what people currently actually pay to travel to the airport (say $18 for skybus, maybe $60 for a taxi) he clearly doesn't think this thing is very worthy at all.
donttellmywife

The first step in providing a public service line a rail passenger service to the community is to ensure what is provided is what the community needs. What people are personally willing to pay for a rail service to the airport is not a test.  A service must be frequent and well priced and be reliable.

With the number of tourists and visitors to Melbourne increasing and with the population growth you guys have (due to eclipse Sydney) a rail line to the airport making it easier for visitors to get to Melbourne is a no brainer.  Why fight it?

Make it cheap, reliable and speedy.  Do that and you will be offering a good service.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
A pretty good indication of whether people really think something is a worthy idea is how much they are personally willing to pay for it.  So bevans currently thinks a trip to the airport is worth about the same as a cup of coffee (in fact, worth probably a bit less than what you'd pay for a cup of coffee at the airport).  Relative to what people currently actually pay to travel to the airport (say $18 for skybus, maybe $60 for a taxi) he clearly doesn't think this thing is very worthy at all.
donttellmywife

I always allow an extra 45 mins to an hour on top of the Skybus travel time and go out to Broadmeadows and pick up the bus to the Airport from there...no extra fare at all....$18.00 each way is better in my pocket Wink

Mike.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE

With the number of tourists and visitors to Melbourne increasing and with the population growth you guys have (due to eclipse Sydney) a rail line to the airport making it easier for visitors to get to Melbourne is a no brainer.  Why fight it?

Make it cheap, reliable and speedy.  Do that and you will be offering a good service.
8077
When will Melbourne Out grow Sydney? Unlikely. Trends come and go. Only a few years back Brisbane was projected to outgrow Melbourne within 20 years.

"Make it Cheap" You mean make taxpayers subsidise what is mostly business and tourism travel by air to other states and countries?
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I always allow an extra 45 mins to an hour on top of the Skybus travel time and go out to Broadmeadows and pick up the bus to the Airport from there...no extra fare at all....$18.00 each way is better in my pocket Wink

Mike.
The Vinelander
Everyone makes their own decisions.  

When carrying out cost/benefit analysis, the value of time saved for personal or leisure travel (versus travel for business) is often assumed to be about half the average hourly earning rate.  Your personal valuation of an hour of your time being worth a bit less than $20 or so is consistent with this.

The valuation of time saved when travelling for business is usually assumed to be maybe four times that.

But there are many other factors that come into play when people make these sorts of choices - schedule, comfort, reliability, etc.

It is also worth noting that your preferred alternative is heavily subsidised.  If that alternative was run at anything approaching full cost recovery, then the fare difference would be much smaller.  You preferred option might cost you less, but given there is a relatively low impact alternative available, you are basically just imposing the difference in cost on broader society.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The first step in providing a public service line a rail passenger service to the community is to ensure what is provided is what the community needs. What people are personally willing to pay for a rail service to the airport is not a test.  

8077
Rubbish.  Society doesn't have infinite resources at hand.  We have to make choices.  Making choices without considering cost is lunacy.

The community doesn't "need" (given the definition of that word) anything resembling a rail link - clearly - given it doesn't have one now and it is doing just fine.  If there's a "need" for anything, then it is just at the level of "transport to the airport".  

Perhaps the community "wants" (which is not the same as need) a rail link - fair enough - but the community wants many things.  When deciding which of the long list of community wants is actually going to happen, cost needs to be considered.  If the people that would be the main beneficiaries from such a rail service being in place aren't actually willing to pay for a good chunk of it in some way, then you really have to wonder how much they actually want it.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Simple question, why should a train to the airport be subsidised? There is some benefit to the govt in cost avoidance in upgrading the freeway, but beyond that there is no need for a CSO.
  ParkesHub Chief Commissioner


*The Wirraway Rd off ramp should not exist

ZH836301


A certain trucking tycoon that I know is responsible for that!
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Read the data regarding PT patronage as a proportion of all traffic to the airport versus Sydney/Brisbane etc. (which is quite similar) along with data for the freeway and the nature of natural growth.  It makes it blatantly obvious that any idea of a train doing anything for the freeway are pure fantasy.
ZH836301
As usual you don't appear to have considered the reasons behind the low figures.

Also judging by what I've seen, Skybus seems to be rather well patronized. So while we could leave the airport link for now, there's no guarantee that existing infrastructure and services will be able to cope in 10 years time.
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

As usual you don't appear to have considered the reasons behind the low figures.

Also judging by what I've seen, Skybus seems to be rather well patronized. So while we could leave the airport link for now, there's no guarantee that existing infrastructure and services will be able to cope in 10 years time.
railblogger
Skybus will do the job well, especially with the dedicated lanes on the freeway making it easier for them.

The next step, as airport passenger numbers increase, is to introduce competition to go head to head with Skybus.  That will sharpen the fares and keep the standard high whilst coping with the numbers.  I believe we reached this point about five years ago.

Of course, many people won't agree.  It would be too successful and defer the rail link that is an obsession with the media and many of the people who would never use it anyway.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Of course, many people won't agree.  It would be too successful and defer the rail link that is an obsession with the media and many of the people who would never use it anyway.
DalyWaters
I suppose it doesn't matter what happens when it comes to who will actually use it - you'd need to get people to use PT for their entire journey, not just one part of it.

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