Northbound commuters turn to cars instead of trains

WHILE passenger numbers remain lower on the Butler train line than they were three years ago, freeway traffic has increased.

Main Roads figures showed that the number of vehicles travelling northbound on the Mitchell Freeway during morning peak times had grown over the past two years.

The most significant was from data taken at Hodges Drive before the Hodges Drive on-ramp, which showed a 5.7 per cent rise in traffic over the same period from 2014 to 2013.

There was an average 4.6 per cent increase in traffic from figures taken at four locations along the freeway northbound.

Paired with train patronage levels on the Butler/Clarkson line, which were nearly 2 per cent lower in 2014-15 than when they peaked in 2012-13, North Metropolitan MLC and former Opposition transport spokesman Ken Travers said this meant more people were choosing to drive over public transport to get to work in the city.

“The increase in vehicles is higher than the population increase over the same period,” he said.

“This is a looming congestion nightmare when we compare it to public transport.”

Mr Travers said he believed the cost associated with public transport was why people were opting to drive.

“I have no doubt that continual increases in fares at double the rate of inflation and the introduction of paid parking is a big driver of people deserting trains and getting in their cars,” he said.

“We have a great train line; the quickest and most cost effective solution to congestion is to get people who can use the trains to use them during peak times.”

He also said a two-year delay in building Butler station meant people got into the habit of driving.

“History shows it is important to provide good public transport services as new sub-divisions open if we want to encourage long term growth in public transport use,” he said.

“There is no doubt that Perth will face a congestion nightmare if we do not ensure that public transport use increases faster than population growth.

“It is really important that we are not only getting the majority of residents in the new suburbs north of Joondalup who commute to Perth city to use public transport but also converting people south of Joondalup to swap from their cars to trains.”

See also: Train use not tracking well.