Transport Canberra says it is already hitting its 2021 business case passenger numbers for light rail, as the number of people boarding the service continues to grow.
The second week of paid travel between 3 June and 9 June saw more people hop on the light rail service compared to the first week, with an average of 14,311 boardings on each working day last week.
A total of 83,862 boardings were recorded along the light rail route last week, 6,000 more than the first week of paid light rail travel.
Only 77,668 people boarded the service during the first week of paid service from 27 May to 2 June, almost 30,000 fewer boardings than the weekly average during the first month of free services.
During the month of free travel, the service recorded an average of 106,279 boardings per week and a daily average of 17,297 on working days, causing Transport Canberra to add more vehicles running on the network.
Due to increased passenger demand during the free travel month, Transport Canberra added one extra service to the morning peak time and three more were added to the afternoon peak times.
A Transport Canberra spokesman said the number of services running since the introduction of paid fares had not changed.
Transport Canberra blamed the significant drop in patronage numbers during the first week of paid travel on the Reconciliation Day public holiday and the three coldest days of the year, stating “historically we see reduced patronage across the [transport] network due to poor weather and holidays”.
The spokesperson said more data was needed to determine trends on the light rail network but said Transport Canberra was happy with the popularity of the light rail.
“It is still too early to draw on conclusions based on this data, and we are continuing to monitor it weekly,” the spokesperson said. “Transport Canberra is very pleased light rail is so popular and we are already hitting our 2021 business case passenger numbers.
“Over the first five weeks of the new network, journeys across the entire new network are up 12 per cent compared with the same period in 2018.
“In the first week of paid service, there was a nine per cent increase in passenger journeys, and boardings are up 13 per cent compared with the same period in 2018, so Transport Canberra expects that patronage will continue to increase week on week from previous years.”
Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said she was delighted to see more Canberrans using the new light rail services but also public transport more broadly.
“Overall, our data is showing there are more people, more often using the new integrated public transport network, which is what it was designed to do,” she told Region Media.
“It was also great to see the number of people taking advantage of the free month of travel – providing Canberrans with the opportunity to try out light rail and see what it was all about.
“We will be keeping a very close eye on patronage over the rest of this year to understand how Canberrans are using their public transport network and how we can continue to encourage even more uptake of public transport, including the network, routes, and our fare structures.”
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