The increase in patronage was estimated by a model from Infrastructure Australia, and was not compared with actual data from the increases in frequency in Melbourne on the Dandenong line and Frankston line in 2009, nor was it compared with the recent frequency increases in Sydney. The model most likely uses a"headway elasticity" of 0.5, meaning that a doubling of headway from 20 minutes to 10 minutes would increase patronage by 50% (based on the linked paper below). So the operating costs would double, patronage increase by 50% and if fares cover only half the operating costs, fare income would increase by only 25%. Government therefore covers 75% of the costs and fares 25%.
It would be good to get a finer level of detail on this relationship. I expect stations closer to the CBD would be more responsive to increased headway (ie elasticity more than 0.5), and outer urban stations less responsive because they are less economically connected with the CBD for services. There may be cases where the elasticity exceeds 1.0. The latter are clearly the best areas to increase service headway.
If say only $50 m/year could be found to increase frequency, what do you think the top priorities would be for increased headway?
1. Sunbury line interpeak from 20 to 10 minutes interpeak as far as Sydenham (benefits transferring passengers from buses at Footscray and Sunshine)
2. Craigieburn line from 20 to 10 minutes interpeak as far as Broadmeadows (benefits areas of residential intensification particularly Essendon and closer; these are likely to be good fare payers)
3. Mernda line as far as say Reservoir from 20 to 10 minutes interpeak (again benefits areas of intensification Preston and closer)
4. Ringwood trains from 15 minutes interpeak to 10 minutes
5. Any other ideas? How far down this list would $50m/year extend?