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The impact of twenty four-hour public transport in Melbourne, Australia: an evaluation of alcohol-related harms

OBJECTIVE: Transporting people out of nightlife districts is often cited as a major issue associated with alcohol-related harm. The Victorian Government introduced 24-hour public transport (24hr PT) in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday and Saturday nights in January 2016. After the 1-year trial period, funding was extended for a further 4 years, at a cost of more than AU$300 million to date. The current study aimed to determine whether 24hr PT reduced harms associated with the nightlife of Melbourne and whether there has been an increased number of people using the transport and visiting Melbourne city on Friday and Saturday nights. METHOD: Police assault data, ambulance attendance data, crash data, public transport use data, and pedestrian counting data were analyzed to determine the impact of 24hr PT on harms in the nightlife of Melbourne, as well as changes in the number of people using public transport and attending the city. RESULTS: There was no change from 2015 to 2016 in the number of police-recorded assaults, ambulance attendances, or crashes for the entirety of the night. There were significantly more people out in the city later in the evening, and more people using trains and trams during the 24hr PT time (i.e., 1 A.M.-5 A.M.). CONCLUSIONS: The initiative did not decrease harm in Melbourne nightlife, in contrast to industry, government, and expert predictions. With expenditures of more than AU$300 million, the costs and benefits of this initiative require further consideration and research, especially when it is proposed in opposition to evidence-based solutions, such as closing venues earlier.



Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs






314 - 318


Alcohol Research Documentation, Inc., Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey


Piscataway, N.J.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, Alcohol Research Documentation, Inc., Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey