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Bus travel  soars despite timing woes
The West Australian

A record number of Perth commuters caught the bus last year, making an extra 11,000 journeys every day, despite more buses running later than ever before.

Overall public transport use exploded to nearly 150 million journeys last year - a 6.66 per cent increase, which is almost twice as big as the estimated growth rate that underpinned the State Government's forecasts in its 2031 Public Transport Strategy released in 2011.

And in a blow to supporters of an expanded ferry service in Perth, ferry patronage defied the trend and fell 1.1 per cent to 5200 journeys a day.

The Transperth data shows bus patronage jumped from 77.9 million to 83.2 million last year, with May the biggest month for bus journeys.

But the Public Transport Authority website reported that more buses ran late in 10 of the 12 months last year, compared with 2011.

On average, one in four metropolitan buses ran late last year. In 2011, less than one in five buses ran late.

A bus is considered to be running late if it does not arrive within four minutes of a scheduled time.

Train patronage also jumped considerably last year, up nearly four million journeys or 6.57 per cent to nearly 65 million. The biggest increase was on the Mandurah line, with 1.56 million extra journeys throughout the year - an 8.04 per cent increase.

Curtin University's sustainability professor Peter Newman said the patronage figures were "remarkable", higher than predicted and "difficult to see how they could be sustained".

He said ferries would never be a viable public transport option until riverside developments at Burswood and East Perth came to fruition.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the patronage increase reflected a high level of confidence in a public transport system that was considered the best in the country.

"We are about to start trials of one of the world's most technologically advanced diesel-electric hybrid bus, we have the country's only fully integrated electronic ticketing system and our train system is rated by Canstar as easily the best in Australia," he said.

But Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the Government had failed to plan for growing demand for public transport in Perth. "The Government's public transport is completely inadequate," he said. "Once again, it is left to WA Labor to build the public transport Perth needs."