Public transport performance

Australia Victoria

This audit examined the performance of public bus, tram and train services across Victoria.

The Department of Transport was not prepared for the rapid growth in public transport patronage between 2004 and 2009. It did not have the capability to foresee this growth or fully understand the root causes of poor performance. It was therefore unable to effectively deal with the performance pressures.

Satisfaction for all public transport modes has deteriorated over the past decade, and performance has mostly fallen short of government targets in the past five years. The decline was greatest for metropolitan trains.

The response to this decline was partial and uncoordinated. Over this time the department managed public transport as separate modes of travel rather than as an integrated system.

 From 2008 the department started to turn this stiuation around. It now has a good understanding of performance issues and has developed an effective planning framework. This is a good basis for action but there is more to do. We identified:

  • outstanding weaknesses in how performance is measured and reported
  • objectives in the Transport Integration  Act that are not measured or managed
  • partial application of the department’s improved planning approach
  • a need to better incorporate performance outcomes into planning.

The future challenges are significant. We estimate that capital expenditure on public transport will have to triple over the next decade to cope with the expected growth. The department needs to benchmark the costs of operating public transport and devise a long-term plan to improve efficiency.

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