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Commuter surge jams transport network
Commuter surge jams transport network

Perth's bus and train patronage is exploding beyond expectations, putting pressure on the city's burgeoning public transport network.

In the first three months of this financial year, commuters took one million more train journeys (up 6.5 per cent) and 1.2 million more bus journeys (up 6.2 per cent) around Perth compared with the previous year.

The increase is nearly twice as big as the estimated growth rate that underpinned the State Government's forecasts in its 2031 Public Transport Strategy released last year. Based on an annual growth rate of 3.85 per cent, the strategy estimated that public transport patronage would double by 2031 and need 156 more railcars, 900 more buses and 29 light-rail vehicles.

Curtin University's sustain- ability professor Peter Newman said the new figures showed the future had arrived.

"Unless we do something quickly, we are not going to be able to maintain the type of city we want," he said.

"We need to push ahead as quickly as possible with projects like light rail, engaging with the private sector in partnerships."

Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the patronage increase was a testament to the success of the public transport system.

He said it validated the Government's investment in extra trains - there were 66 railcars on order, with deliveries due to start in about a year.

"Our investment in buses has already seen more buses on the road and many more kilometres of travel funded, increases that will continue for some years," he said.

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said the Government was still not providing adequate public transport infrastructure.

He said that based on the recent growth figures, current orders for new train carriages and buses would not be enough to meet demand.

The biggest patronage increases in the September quarter were on the Mandurah (up 394,943 or 7.9 per cent) and Joondalup (up 318,511 or 7.8 per cent) lines.

Although patronage has boomed, more buses and trains are running late. About one in four buses ran late in July, August and September - the worst performance on record. Though train punctuality was high, more trains ran late over the same three months. A bus or train is considered to be running late if it does not arrive within four minutes of a scheduled time.

Mr Buswell said buses and trains were late mainly because of traffic congestion caused by roadworks in and around the city and the impact of rail works related to the Perth City Link and Butler extension projects.