How does the Melbourne tram network fare?

Toronto trams have few platform stops and long queues as passengers must deal with Tram Drivers about tickets

Toronto trams have few platform stops and long queues as passengers must deal with tram drivers about tickets. Image source: Professor Graham Currie.

New research contrasting design approaches between light rail in Melbourne and Canada has demonstrated significant benefits in new level-access platform stops, ticketing systems and low floor trams in Melbourne.

A study investigating alternative stop designs and the impacts on travel time in Melbourne and Toronto (Canada) tram systems found the off-board ticket purchase system and level platform stops in Melbourne significantly reduced commute times.

Conducted by Professor of Public Transport at Monash University Graham Currie and researchers Alexa Delbosc and James Reynolds from the Institute of Transport Studies, the study found platform stops in Melbourne reduced travel time by 34 per cent per 10 passengers boarding.

Melbourne’s pre-paid and on-board ticket purchase approach was also found to reduce commute times by 48 per cent when compared to the Toronto approach where tram driver’s must issue tickets causing delays from queues.

As the largest tram system in the world with 250 kilometres of double track, Professor Currie said the Melbourne Tram Network’s ticketing system and boarding from platform stops to low floor trams improved accessibility and running speeds.

“Delays at tram stops on public transport are major factors influencing its competitiveness when compared to the private car,” Professor Currie said.

“The study has shown that level access from a platform tram stop to a low floor tram as well as off-board fare purchase and validation are effective means to reduce travel times and improve punctuality."

A link between the number of doors on trams and travel time was also found.

The paper is part of a research program funded by the Australian Research Council as part of the Industry Linkage scheme in collaboration with VicRoads and Public Transport Victoria. 

The researchers were awarded the US Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies’ William B. Millar Award for best research paper on public transport last month. Over 4,000 papers were considered for the Award presented at the worlds largest transport conference attended by 11,000 delegates.