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Private public transport in Australia

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FlyingAxe posted on Sun, Nov 18 2012 7:16 PM

Does anyone know of the situation of the public transport in Australia?

I was involved in a conversation with someone on Quora, where he said that in his experience, privatization of public transport made things worse. I asked him where he lives; he answered: "Melbourne, Australia - we've had privately run trains and trams for over a decade now and if anything services have gone backwards. We even had a time when trains were run by three separate companies - that didn't last long."

All of this sounds like there is the typical crony-capitalism, with the government somehow helping a few companies to get ahead. Especially with railed transport. But, I was wondering if anyone had better information.

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Lived in that city all my life.  Yes, 'privatisation' just means contracting the monopoly out, it doesn't mean the lack of a monopoly.  It really has nothing to do with free market transportation.  In Melbourne there is the typical state control over trams, trains, taxis, buses.  The last is probably the most free, since there is scope for competing companies, but I'm pretty sure they still need to comply with everything the state wants them to, which inhibits competition.  Trains are too big to fail and receive large subsidies.  If the train operating company goes bust, they simply contract with a new one.

All public transport in Melbourne is linked with a 'myki' card, so all types are essentially part of the one monopoly.  Installing myki cost over $1.5 billion, is still not properly finished, and isn't really cheaper or that much more efficient than the previous system.  But it's a free lunch, right?

EDIT:  Also, I should add that it's all terrible.  Trains run very infrequently, are often cancelled or delayed.  At peak times they are ridiculously packed.  The roads are congested beyond belief with pot-holes a-plenty.  The trend of poor public and private transport (aside from lack of competition) is probably due to increased population rather than from privatisation, which couldn't really change much.

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