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Off the rails--evaluating the nightlife impact of Melbourne, Australia's 24-h public transport trial
journal contributionposted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ashlee CurtisAshlee Curtis, Nicolas Droste, Kerri CoomberKerri Coomber, Belinda GuadagnoBelinda Guadagno, Richelle MayshakRichelle Mayshak, Shannon HyderShannon Hyder, Alexa HayleyAlexa Hayley, Peter MillerPeter Miller
BACKGROUND: This paper evaluates the impact of the AU$83 million introduction of 24-h public transport (PT) in Melbourne, Australia on Friday and Saturday nights on a sample of nightlife venues and venue patrons. This sample was selected because a primary reason for the introduction of 24 h PT was to provide a safe means of travel home for nightlife attendees. METHODS: Covert venue observations (pre-post) and a convenience sample of nightlife patron interviews (post-only) were conducted to measure the impact of 24-h PT on venues and venue patrons. Specifically, the impact of 24-h PT on the proportion of people observed within venues (as rated on a 0-100% scale of venue capacity), patrons in venues showing any sign of intoxication, those who were observed to be too intoxicated to remain in the venue, patron drinking or drug taking behavior, train use, and the time and money spent in the night time economy were assessed. RESULTS: After 24-h PT was introduced there were no significant differences overall in the proportion of people observed within venues, or significant associations with the proportion of patrons showing any sign of intoxication or proportions who were observed to be too intoxicated to remain in the venue. However, when accounting for seasonality (matching-months), observed patron intoxication increased significantly after the introduction of 24-h PT. The majority of nightlife patrons did not report a change in their pre-drinking or drug taking behavior after 24-public transport, but 44% indicated spending more time in the night time economy, 27% reported spending more money, and 56% reported increasing their train use. CONCLUSION: Patron reports suggest that 24-h public transport has increased the amount of time people spend in nightlife settings without obviously impacting on drinking behavior. However, supplying 24-h public transport has resulted in greater self-reported use of public transport.