The late-night transport trial includes an extra 300 train services.
The late-night transport trial includes an extra 300 train services. Photo: Craig Sillitoe
Late-night revellers are increasingly using trams, trains and buses to get home from a big night out rather than catching cabs or slogging their way home on foot.
Patronage on the Andrews government's Night Network – offering all-night hourly trains in and out of the city on most lines, half-hourly trams on six major lines, extra bus services and a 2am coach service to regional cities – has been steadily growing since a trial started in January.
So much so that trains have now overtaken walking as the most common method of getting home, with taxi use and driving also waning.
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Public Transport Victoria figures provided to Fairfax Media reveal about 10,000 people used the network on the first weekend of the year-long trial. But that has since grown to a total across Friday and Saturday nights of about 35,000.
Announced before the 2014 state election, the trial was controversial. Labor claimed it would allow young people and shift workers to get home safely, cheaply and quickly on the weekend, while critics claimed the high cost of staffing stations with all-night PSOs and running extra services could not be justified.
The latest figures show the patronage has grown enough to justify continuing with the policy – which involves an extra 300 train services, 250 tram services and 485 bus services each weekend – when the trial finishes at the end of the year. 
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan suggested the trial had generated economic activity in the city by encouraging people to stay out later.
"Unlike Sydney, which shuts down late at night, Melbourne's night economy is booming, creating jobs and making our city safer and easier to enjoy," Ms Allan said.
A major survey conducted by Public Transport Victoria found three-quarters of people using the service were aged 18 to 34, and 61 per cent were male.
Train use jumped 11 per cent soon after the policy was launched, with tram use up by 9 per cent. But in a loss for the taxi industry, cab use dropped 8 per cent after its introduction, while walking dropped 7 per cent.
The policy also appears to have encouraged people to stay out later. Before the trial started, 22 per cent called it quits between 2am and 3am, compared with 27 per cent after it was introduced.