United Kingdom

Sydney Light Rail only moves 10 passengers a minute

Sydney's disastrous light rail line delivered just 10 passengers a minute in its first year after the costs to build it blew out to $3 billion.

Since the whole line opened on April 3, it has been so sparsely used that the NSW Government will be forced to subsidise it.  

There were 4.45 million trips on the Randwick line and 4.55 million on the Kingsford line in the first year, a dismal 28 per cent of the predicted 31.4 million trips. 

Sydney Light Rail only carried 10 passengers per operating minute for first year in operation

The NSW Government has alloted the risk of decreased fare revenue from the Sydney Light Rail to the taxpayers 

Both lines transported an average of 10 passengers a minute in its first year - below maximum capacity of 225 people per minute.

Commuters instead opted for buses, with 289 jumping on a minute, and 336 a minute for trains. 

Labor's Transport spokesman Chris Minns said the $3 billion system has been a 'failed project'.   

'Nearly every part of this project has failed and now the people of Sydney are voting with their feet and refusing to use it,' Mr Minns told the Daily Telegraph.

'To enter a contract where taxpayers have to subsidise this failed project is a monstrous misuse of taxpayer money.' 

Even government ministers are ribbing Transport Minister Andrew Constance about how few people use it.

'A great idea for a stimulus measure that wouldn’t cost us a dollar would be providing free transport on your light rail,' Treasurer Dominic Perrottet telling him in parliament.

Labor's Transport spokesman Chris Minns said railway has been a 'failed project' (pictured: passenger on the light rail) 

But Transport for NSW chief operating officer Howard Collins argued use of the entire transport network declined by 80 per cent during the pandemic.

'Unlike other countries, Australia doesn't typically require the operator to hit a certain level of patronage. This is because we want them focused on what customers care about, not promoting ticket sales,' Mr Collins said. 

Officials are scrambling to increase passenger numbers as the contract allots the ongoing risk of decreased fare revenue directly to the taxpayers' pocket.

Mr Collins said maintaining a farebox revenue - charges based on distances travelled by patrons - meant transport services did not suffer when passenger numbers fell.

'We contract transport operators to provide a service, with KPIs for timeliness cleanliness and overall satisfaction to incentive better performance,' he said. 

'Further, where operators have not achieved a patronage target in overseas markets, the taxpayer can end up footing the bill or services are reduced which is completely at odds view of public transport as a social good.' 

The November 2020 Transport for NSW Customer Satisfaction survey showed 96 per cent satisfaction with light rail users. 

There were 4.45 million trips on the Randwick line and 4.55 million trips on the Kingsford Line in the first year, a dismal 28 per cent of the 31.4 million trips originally predicted 

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