MELBOURNE Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has supported the closure of the City Loop before midnight tonight.
"Happy New Year, 2013," Mr Doyle said. "We are putting the final touches on the preparation for what we hope will be Melbourne's biggest party, but a safe party, and one in which we enjoy ourselves but also get home safely.
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He called on the estimated more than 500,000 expected to head to central Melbourne tonight to be patient and respectful.
Trains in the Loop will close at 11.45pm tonight.
Speaking outside the Town Hall this afternoon Cr Doyle said opening underground train stations Flagstaff, Melbourne Central and Parliament would have been a "recipe for disaster".
He said they didn't have the space or staff to cope with thousands of patrons trying to squeeze on to packed trains in the hour after midnight.
He said the "two big stations", Flinders Street and Southern Cross, were well patrolled and staffed with extra space.
"With the sheer numbers of people, if we didn't restrict it to two stations, what would happen is this, those trains would fill up, the doors would open for instance at a station like Flagstaff, and the train would be already packed, with a platform full of people, and that's a recipe for disaster."
He said after midnight, "the quickest way to get people home is to have them move in an orderly fashion towards Flinders Street and Southern Cross station, it has worked every year, it worked very well last year.
"We do have to ask people to be patient and be respectful.
"No system in the world is designed to cope with a couple of hundred thousand people in half an hour or 45 minutes.
"We just have to be a little bit patient but we will get them home and the way to get people home is to get them home safely. That is, to manage the way people leave the city, and this is the best way to do it."
He expects up to 40,000 to go to the family event at Yarra Park near the MCG where there will be entertainment until fireworks at 9.30pm.
Cr Doyle said tonight's midnight fireworks launched from 22 sites around the city would be "Melbourne's biggest party".
Crowds were encouraged to go to three party sites to hear music to go with the fireworks – at Docklands, Flagstaff and Treasury Gardens – to avoid crowd crushing in the CBD.
This year, Princes Bridge will be a no-stopping area.
Last year there were only 34 arrests and Cr Doyle hoped for a night just as quiet this year.
Drinking from an open container in the streets was an offence. "Police have said they will be very friendly, but if they need to be firm, they will be firm.
"The city is alcohol-free in our streets, for New Year's Eve."
Asked his message for 2013, he said "let's keep each other safe. If there's one thing that's worried me about this past year, it's been that resurgence in violence in our city.
"I would like this year to be the year when we said we all have zero tolerance for violence against women, against young people, against older people, against anybody."