THE South Australian Government last week announced a significant increase in the number of passengers taking public transport in Adelaide, with an extra three million trips recorded in the past financial year.
Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said almost 67 million passenger trips were recorded across the city's bus, train and tram networks in 2014/15 – the largest ever patronage figures in the network's history.
"Last year Adelaide Metro carried 3.4 million extra passengers - a 5.5 percent increase on the previous financial year," the Minister said.
"This is well above population growth and represents the enormous investment the State Government has made in our public transport networks since coming to power."
Mr Mullighan said the largest increase was experienced on the train network in the first full year of patronage since the electrification of the Seaford line.
"Commuters have returned to the Seaford line in droves with more than 4.45 million passengers choosing to catch Seaford services, an increase of 78 percent," Mr Mullighan said.
"Last year's increase on the Seaford line follows a 2.7 percent jump in the 2013/14 year when commuters returned to the newly electrified rail infrastructure and new electric trains were introduced.
"Patronage for buses and trams ramped up significantly in previous years while train services were suspended for works and part of the increase in train patronage has come from many passengers making the shift back."
The Outer Harbor and Gawler lines have also shown steady improvements, recording 8 and 7.3 percent increases in patronage respectively.
The bus network has shown a steady improvement with more than 51 million commuters counted in 2014-15, a 1.5 per cent increase compared to the year before, now carrying more than.
"Tram patronage was steady with a slight drop in passenger numbers over the past financial year as commuters returned to upgraded train services on the Seaford line," Mr Mullighan said.
Mr Mullighan said for the first time, free trips have also been recorded through improvements in Adelaide Metro technology and monitoring, such as the introduction of Metrocard.
"Previously we haven't been able to record free trips but through these developments we have identified more than 8 million free trips to special events, free travel in the CBD and Glenelg, and Footy Express," Mr Mullighan said.
The 8 million free trips are not included in the total patronage figures of almost 67 million for 2014/15.
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) said the people of Adelaide have embraced their public transport network because of the significant $400 million investment from the State and Federal Government in providing a more efficient, cleaner, faster and effective rail network.
Acting Chief Operating Officer of the ARA, Phil Allan, said that this was a classic 'if you build it, they will come' success story, with a large portion of the increased patronage being credited to the electrification and extension of the Seaford line, which was completed in February 2014.
"The Federal Government should look at the success of this co-funded rail project and reassess its current position on not funding urban rail," Mr Allan said.
"A growing trend and common challenge for state governments across the country is the increasing population and infrastructure demands facing our biggest and fastest growing cities and evidently rail can help meet this demand," he said.