Night time economy and late night travel

Posted: August 8, 2012 in Transport

EDIT: This post was written about a month ago, before the tragic events that led to the death of Thomas Kelly in Kings Cross. This event has set in motion a serious conversation about this topic, and I do intend to write about it when I get time. However, my life is currently quite busy (hence why I wrote a number of posts, such as this one, a while back to be published later), so it might have to wait a little while. Until then, this post provides some good background on the issues currently being discussed, without the hindsight that we all now have.

The City of Sydney has set its sights on improving its night time economy between now and 2030. This plan would see a doubling of the night time economy from $15 billion to $30 billion and an increase in the proportion of people over 40 from 6% to 40%. They’ve also produced a video about it:

This has kicked off some discussion about transport options late at night. Most public transport is provided during the peaks, and outside of the peak it is most frequent in the daytime between the peaks. To illustrate that point visually, take a look at the video below, which shows bus routes (for STA Sydney Buses only) in Sydney for 24 hours. From late evening there are a few buses running on the major roads, and after midnight there doesn’t seem to be more than 4 bus routes operating. Few private bus companies run 24 hour services, though that is starting to change. For example, the 610 bus between the CBD and Castle Hill in Sydney’s Northwest began 24 hour operations in December of 2011, though only for Friday and Saturday nights.

The rail network, which runs nightride buses after midnight, has also seen some improvements recently, adding 91 new services per week. This extended the network to Richmond and Carlingford on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. However, outside of those days, most nightride buses still run only at hourly frequencies and are often packed.

Nightride map

Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Cityrail)

One area that has been spoken of for improvement is taxis. Currently, a changeover time of 3AM means most taxis are unavailable at that time as they are changing drivers. This leads to a shortage of taxis between the hours of 2AM and 4AM, when public transport options are most limited. The solution appears to be issuing licenses with staggered changeover times, so that not all taxis go out of action simultaneously.

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