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Labor sharpens knives for Nightrider

By 11 January 2011 13

The Canberra Times is expressing the Government’s displeasure with the NightRider service which in its first three weeks was costing $326 for each passenger taken home.

What do they expect for a new service?

It takes years for these things to become habitual to users.

Nightrider buses

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13 Responses to Labor sharpens knives for Nightrider
#1
random11:18 am, 11 Jan 11

The girl sitting next to me on the NYE Nightrider said that she and her friends had only found out about it because they’d been watching the activity across the road during a half hour wait in the taxi line.

It absolutely needs better advertising and time for word of mouth to spread.

#2
JA07811:47 am, 11 Jan 11

Of course no one is using it…. the majority of people that go out in the city have left town over Xmas and New Years.

#3
Holditz12:14 pm, 11 Jan 11

On the other hand the Nightrider service has been going on for several years, it’s only this summer that it’s been expanded and employed Deans’ to run it.

Having said that though the Greens agree with random, it needs to be better promoted.

In any case we all end up paying one way or the other, either as tax payers paying Deane indirectly, or as customers at the taxi rank.

#4
Francois Dillinger1:48 pm, 11 Jan 11

What? How is this a good valued service? Obviously the results speak for themselves, but I dont think the issue is a lack of advertising. Lets consider the need it is seeking to fill – late night transport home from the city.
Most Canberrans are drivers, so the people on these buses are likely to be a bit sauced up.
Now, lets have a think about why people would want to get on a bus at 1am with drunken city-revellers? We can assume that these are likely to be the lower-than-average sort of riff-raff — who cant afford a cab (admittedly that can be problematic) or dont know enough sober people on the town to get home?

Im certain that the readers here would be apprehensive about letting a young friend or relation (say, a 19yo lady, dolled up as they do) hop on a bus to wanniassa, holt or harrison at 1am.

The issue then, is that this is a stupid idea.

How about the greens stop imposing these terrible money wasting endeavours and enrol in an economics course at one of our fine tertiary institutes?

And to Holditz – its not a” we’re paying anyway” situation. In the above scenario, the cost is imposed on the taxpayer and the user is subsidised to the value of some $322 per trip. In the taxi scenario, the cost is imposed on the individual who has made an informed choice and put themselves in the situation.

The answer then, is either taxi prices go up, or we increase the number of plates so actually meet Canberra’s crippling shortage of taxis.

On a side point, I find it unbelievably depressing that Canberrans look at this significant flop and think its a simple matter of re-work. Shame shame shame

#5
georgesgenitals2:02 pm, 11 Jan 11

If it’s not being used, ditch it. Replace it with routes and times that are actually in demand.

#6
ML-5852:25 pm, 11 Jan 11

The fares charged by the Nightrider service are set by the ACT Government. I am led to believe that when the fare was $5 a few years back, the patronage was higher.

Perhaps then rather than just declaring it a failure and a waste of money, they could think about lowering the fares for the rest of the trial period and see whether that makes a difference.

Some ads on/in ACTION buses might also be a good way to promote the service. Even though ACTION is not providing the service, the ACT Government is still paying for it.

#7
Grumpy Old Fart2:39 pm, 11 Jan 11

It is easy to look at the short term view of money lost and what the rest of the funds could be used for on the other hand the Chief Miinister of Public Art and Trees cries out for a zero road toll. We are told how the irresponsible few that are caught drink driving are a menace to society and a danger to other road users. So if the nightrider saves one life or stops one collision caused by a drunk driver then it is well worth the investment. The service takes away the temptation to drive because they can’t afford the $100 taxi fair from Civic to the far flung subsurbs where many of the young people reside. Yes it could be the role of a designated driver to transport their friends but to often temptation can befall the designated driver.

Two options either advertise the nightrider service more widely or pay an amount to a designated driver to look after their freinds as a reward for staying sober. There are not enough taxi’s in the town and many of them will not take night time fares from Civic or Manuka so every option should be looked at.

If we can afford public art and tress we can afford to keep safe those young people on a night out. Our ‘Politicians’ spend more than this amount on their ‘educational’ tours.

#8
georgesgenitals6:00 pm, 11 Jan 11

Grumpy Old Fart said :

It is easy to look at the short term view of money lost and what the rest of the funds could be used for on the other hand the Chief Miinister of Public Art and Trees cries out for a zero road toll. We are told how the irresponsible few that are caught drink driving are a menace to society and a danger to other road users. So if the nightrider saves one life or stops one collision caused by a drunk driver then it is well worth the investment. The service takes away the temptation to drive because they can’t afford the $100 taxi fair from Civic to the far flung subsurbs where many of the young people reside. Yes it could be the role of a designated driver to transport their friends but to often temptation can befall the designated driver.

Two options either advertise the nightrider service more widely or pay an amount to a designated driver to look after their freinds as a reward for staying sober. There are not enough taxi’s in the town and many of them will not take night time fares from Civic or Manuka so every option should be looked at.

Well, shit, it’s also easy to say “hey a few people like it, who cares if it costs heaps and most people don’t benefit”.

#9
damien haas6:02 pm, 11 Jan 11

Every night we see ads at every break in any TV show we watch, all proclaiming the benefits of private vehicle ownership. How many ads do we see for bicycle riding, walking or public transport ?

If no one knows of this service, including its target audience – how will they plan to use it ?

Do they advertise NightRider in BMA ? On RiotACT ? Perhaps print up some coasters and give them to the various temperance halls dotting Canberras nightscape.

#10
Chop716:04 pm, 11 Jan 11

I wonder how much my rates will go up subsidising $326 per passenger trip.

#11
dvaey8:28 pm, 11 Jan 11

Its also worth remembering that during the first 3 weekends of the year, we saw near record rainfalls. Gee, I wonder why people werent keen to catch a bus at 3am and walk home in the rain. I expect that all clubs and services in the city noticed a lack of business on the nights of these downpours. Lets hope that a one in however-many year flood wont be enough to put the government off this sensible idea.

Interestingly, with 8 routes running 3 times a night thats a total of 24 routes. With a cost of nearly 11k per night for the service, each bus needs to make $450 meaning 45 passengers must travel on each route, just to break even. Which brainiac in our public transport system thought that youd get more than 45 passengers per bus on a brand new service, which as others have pointed out wasnt advertised as well as it could have been.

#12
Deadmandrinking9:50 pm, 11 Jan 11

I haven’t posted here for ages, been living in Melbourne, so I’m not qualified anymore really. But I need to say that down in Melbourne, Nightriders work fine. Francois, being the ‘lower than average sort of riff raff’ (apparently) I’ve been catching them frequently and I’ve never seen any trouble aboard one – and these are ones that head out to Footscray, Sunshine and St Albans (the ‘dangerous’ western suburbs). Most people on board are eager to get home without passing out, and they’re usually very aware that they’re on CCTV.

It’s not just ‘riff-raff’ that want to save money on transport either, it’s students, and hell, even people with decent jobs. Cabs are expensive!

#13
canberran859:35 am, 14 Jan 11

There are a lot of interesting comments here. A city the size of Canberra should have a Nightrider bus network. Such a network is needed to discourage drink driving, provide transport for hospitality workers and promote personal safety.

That said, the existing model of Nightrider services is clearly unsustainable. It would be foolish to hope that patronage will grow exponentially in the remaining few months of the trial through summer, although time is likely to result in a progressive increase in patronage. The model needs to be more closely examined with a view to increasing revenue or reducing costs.

Increasing revenue from patronage will grow with time, but is unlikely to ever reach a break even point if the ‘back of the envelope’ calculations are close to the reality. Possible methods to increase revenue include:
-Businesses engaging in late night trading being levied part of the cover charge to subsidise the network. Although likely to be resisted by nightclubs, people may be inclined to use a service they have already paid for.

Possible mechanisms to decrease costs include:
-Revise routes offered by Nightrider. A casual observation of mine on NYE was that buses going to Tuggeranong and Belconnen appeared full, while buses to inner suburbs appeared much more sparsely populated. It may be more appropriate for short routes to be provided by mini-buses.
-Integration into the ACTION timetable. The costs of extending a few weekend shifts beyond midnight and commencing some morning shifts an hour or two earlier is likely to be a more cost effective option than contacting the service to an external company. There would be the challenge of negotiating this arrangement with the Union, but it may be a fight worth fighting. This option could include integration with regular ticketing and pricing. The $10 charge is unattractive, especially on short trips. A $4.00 paper ticket for a single journey is seen more as ‘small change’ whereas $5 or a $10 note is more likely to be viewed as an expense. If integrated with the new MyWay systems, the GPS function could generate patronage data which could be used to craft a more efficient network.

Challenges in promotion:
-Promotion historically has been generally poor, an in particular, I don’t believe were promoted at nightclubs and licensed premesis.
-Even those who knew Nightrider services were running, many people didn’t know where they went, what times they left, or which weekends were running. This is a substantial barrier to increased patronage.
-Routes are varied substantially to the regular suburban services. Not knowing where the buses would go makes use more difficult.

It would be interesting to see if others had other ideas for running a more efficient night service. Also, I found the comment about the Melbourne nightrider interesting… I feel so unsafe in Melbourne cabs from the driving that any other form of transport home would be a better option!

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