Bus patronage plummets

 
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Bus patronage in Victoria has plummeted again falling to its lowest level in 3 years. Why ?
Last night's 207 service was a cracker - MYKI not working so my second freebie for the week, the driver was in a foul mood and was flying up to stops then jamming on the brakes, at least 2 people's shopping went skating across the floor at different stages of the trip.

But the piece de resistance - halfway up Studley Park Hill someone pressed the stop button. When the bus had come to a halt a customer in a wheelchair came to the front of the bus to get off and started chastising the driver. She had asked to be notified of the Clarke St Abbotsford stop as she was not a local. The driver had "forgotten". I can't imagine that it would be a pleasant experience to wheel a chair DOWN that rather steep hill.

BG
BrentonGolding
Some of the people the bus drivers have to put up with, no wonder they can be In a foul mood.

One major bus company Is now Installing safety screens to protect the driver from feral passengers.

Rather sad !

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  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Perhaps if the large number of passengers who don't pay their fare  and/or swipe their MYKI cards did so the figures would look better.
YM-Mundrabilla
Not sure if this has been raised before (did a quick search only) but on Tuesday morning I caught a route 207 bus to work. I needed to top up my MYKI and only had a $50 note. I didn't need change as I was heading back to Castlemaine in the evening peak so needed plenty of $$$ on my card. The bus driver refused to take it saying "Sorry, I can't take $50, just sit down, don't worry about paying"

I have previously been told that I can't pay with coins either so now if I want to top up on a bus I need to have a $5, $10 or $20 note. They don't take cards, coins, or $50 notes. I haven't tried pulling out a Jolly Green Giant yet but I assume the driver would break out in a sweat!

I would say the sheer inconvenience of MYKI on busses is contributing to the downturn in patronage. So many people get on and off without touching on / off on the route 200 / 207 between Kollingwued and the Yarra it is astounding. Some of these are of course deliberately avoiding the fares (I have never seen an Authorised Officer on a bus) but how many more get on without the required currency?

BG
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Proper stats and analysis; or pointless discussion.
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
Bus patronage in Victoria has plummeted again falling to its lowest level in 3 years. Why ?
"freightgate"

Let's see... the pro-car Liberals including Tony Abbott was in charge, we had car ads shoved down our throats every two minutes (if not even closer together e.g. a Toyota ad followed by a Hyundai ad followed by a Mitsubishi ad), car insurance ads from little red quotes to meerkats, sh!thouse bus services, some of which run hourly, go every which way but straight to the destination on the front of the bus, finish in the middle of the afternoon (6PM may as well be the middle of the afternoon as far as I am concerned) don't run on Sundays (or even Saturdays in some cases e.g. 680) or public holidays and are rarely timed with trains or even with one another for that matter (good old-fashioned rivalry). Bonus points if the bus is timetabled to leave within two minutes of another arriving from a different route, leaving passengers waiting 58 minutes for the next. Yeah, all good incentives for the general public to buy a car.
  murray2612 Station Staff

Location: Adelaide, Australia
I don't think the government care about properly coordinated services.

For example, Friday's V/line Ararat to Warrnambool coach departs roughly 30mins before The Overland arrives there from Adelaide. If they changed the route slightly, to travel via Stawell instead of Pomonal and Moyston then the connection would be possible in Stawell. I've written several letters to V/line, PTV, local member & the current Transport Minister, what ever her name is. Dennis Napthine was the only one who agreed it was a good idea, but clearly had no will or sway in effecting change. Everyone else was concerned about the "vital" link that this one bus service provides to the folk of Pomonal and Moyston, despite any number of Halls Gap to Ararat coaches that they could have sent there in return.

This change would cost nothing, so funding isn't an issue; I think the problem is bad press when the folk of Pomonal and Moyston lose a service that nobody used, even though it could be easily mitigated. Politics these days is very emotive and just plain stupid.

So in short, no one gives a f***. Rant over.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I would say the sheer inconvenience of MYKI on busses is contributing to the downturn in patronage.
BrentonGolding
My experience as a former Melbourne resident was that bus drivers don't really see it as their job to enforce revenue and there's no such thing as bus ticket inspectors (not that I ever saw anyway) so there's your explanation right there.
  randomnarwhal Locomotive Driver

I've had a couple of drivers refuse to leave until someone touched on or got off, and the other day I saw a group of inspectors standing at a bus interchange. First time in however many years.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I've had a couple of drivers refuse to leave until someone touched on or got off, and the other day I saw a group of inspectors standing at a bus interchange. First time in however many years.
randomnarwhal
Never, ever saw a bus inspector in my entire time living in Melbourne. Perhaps they've had a recent change in policy?

Very occasionally I saw a bus driver dig his or her heels in till someone validated or got off the bus but more often than not they just didn't care and didn't want to know. I once tried to top up my Myki with a ten dollar note on the bus and the driver just laughed and waved me on. There doesn't seem to be a strong culture with bus drivers of having anything to do with tickets any longer since the introduction of Myki.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Proper stats and analysis; or pointless discussion.
"ZH836301"
Lies, damned lies, or statistics? Who has counted, and how?
  Madjikthise Assistant Commissioner

Proper stats and analysis; or pointless discussion.
Lies, damned lies, or statistics? Who has counted, and how?
Valvegear
Exactly. They only data they have is from people who use their cards, and the people who get caught without one. How could they possibly know how many people in total use public transport, legally AND illegally, unless they physically count each one every day on every bus/tram/train?
  Heath Assistant Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, SA
Here is how to improve bus patronage according to me - a regular bus user from Adelaide:

1) Make ALL bus routes run every 10 minutes from 6 AM to Midnight on Monday through to Sunday.
2) Simplify the bus network with routes running along main roads from the city to the edge of the suburbs.
3) Introduce a few circle line orbital bus routes to avoid travelling through the CBD for cross town journeys.
4) Include comfortable seats, wheelchair access, power points, free wifi and real time arrivals as standard on all buses.
5) Ensure bus drivers are trained to be friendly, helpful, welcoming, courteous and respectful to everyone.
6) Implement a simple, flat fare, per ride, smart-card ticketing system that is intuitive to use and reliable.
7) Always have tickets available, which can be purchased on board, for tourists and infrequent bus users.
8) Permit accompanied children aged 9 and under, wheelchair users, and the frail aged to travel for free.
9) In terms of timetabling and maps, present in an easy to understand, and integrated city wide network.
10) Mandate that buses are to cooperate with trains, as feeder services, instead of competing with trains.
11) Allow people to bring pets, luggage, and bikes on buses at all times and free of additional cost.
12) Make the price of car registration cover the full cost of providing roads and their related infrastructure.
13) Tell the TV stations to stop shoving car and car related product commercials down our throat all program long.

Thoughts ?
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Here is how to improve bus patronage according to me - a regular bus user from Adelaide:

1) Make ALL bus routes run every 10 minutes from 6 AM to Midnight on Monday through to Sunday.
2) Simplify the bus network with routes running along main roads from the city to the edge of the suburbs.
3) Introduce a few circle line orbital bus routes to avoid travelling through the CBD for cross town journeys.
4) Include comfortable seats, wheelchair access, power points, free wifi and real time arrivals as standard on all buses.
5) Ensure bus drivers are trained to be friendly, helpful, welcoming, courteous and respectful to everyone.
6) Implement a simple, flat fare, per ride, smart-card ticketing system that is intuitive to use and reliable.
7) Always have tickets available, which can be purchased on board, for tourists and infrequent bus users.
8) Permit accompanied children aged 9 and under, wheelchair users, and the frail aged to travel for free.
9) In terms of timetabling and maps, present in an easy to understand, and integrated city wide network.
10) Mandate that buses are to cooperate with trains, as feeder services, instead of competing with trains.
11) Allow people to bring pets, luggage, and bikes on buses at all times and free of additional cost.
12) Make the price of car registration cover the full cost of providing roads and their related infrastructure.
13) Tell the TV stations to stop shoving car and car related product commercials down our throat all program long.

Thoughts ?
Heath Loxton
Not sure about eh power points/Wi-Fi nor the removal of the bike ban but all the other points seems valid.
  kitchgp Chief Commissioner

1) Very expensive.
2) Contra to what is proposed in 10
3) Current Routes 901, 902 & 903.
4) Comfortable seats & wheelchair-access already provided. Power points and free Wi-Fi    impractical.
5} Replace the words ‘bus drivers’ with ‘passengers’
6) Wouldn’t harmonise with the current zone system if buses are used as proposed in 10.
7) Can already top up myki . Very expensive for occasional passenger (where are all these tourists using outer-suburban buses?).
8) Already get concessional travel.
9) Already available at the PTV website and mobile apps.
10) Bus routes don’t compete with trains.
11) Animals in suitable containers already permitted, otherwise a danger to passengers. Luggage is permitted. No charge for either. Bikes a hazard in the close confines of a bus.
12 & 13) More related to all forms of public transport.
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Here is how to improve bus patronage according to me - a regular bus user from Adelaide:

1) Make ALL bus routes run every 10 minutes from 6 AM to Midnight on Monday through to Sunday.
2) Simplify the bus network with routes running along main roads from the city to the edge of the suburbs.
3) Introduce a few circle line orbital bus routes to avoid travelling through the CBD for cross town journeys.
4) Include comfortable seats, wheelchair access, power points, free wifi and real time arrivals as standard on all buses.
5) Ensure bus drivers are trained to be friendly, helpful, welcoming, courteous and respectful to everyone.
6) Implement a simple, flat fare, per ride, smart-card ticketing system that is intuitive to use and reliable.
7) Always have tickets available, which can be purchased on board, for tourists and infrequent bus users.
8) Permit accompanied children aged 9 and under, wheelchair users, and the frail aged to travel for free.
9) In terms of timetabling and maps, present in an easy to understand, and integrated city wide network.
10) Mandate that buses are to cooperate with trains, as feeder services, instead of competing with trains.
11) Allow people to bring pets, luggage, and bikes on buses at all times and free of additional cost.
12) Make the price of car registration cover the full cost of providing roads and their related infrastructure.
13) Tell the TV stations to stop shoving car and car related product commercials down our throat all program long.

Thoughts ?
Heath Loxton
Hello All,

re the above-

1 ) a 10 or 15 minute frequency would probably lead to an increase in passengers, but my observations of a 10 minute frequency of buses in Corby and Kettering, England still had near empty busses running, so , of itself , not the only solution , but definitely part of it. Again, what would it cost compared to fare revenue earned ?

At some point these services have to be paid for , and if patronage is still low, a lot of other questions, and their answers need to be investigated, as the public purse is not a bottomless pit, despite what politicians of all flavours at times imply.

I would prefer to see improved public transport, but realistically , it must meet actual demand, as tax payers money is also needed  for health, education, social security and other equally worthy causes , which, as a society we all, to a greater or lesser extent need at some point in our, and our families, lives.

2 ) the problem here is the assumption that all main roads can handle buses, and that the road's inherent design and location is convenient to pedestrians. Where this is not the case, and Melbourne has a surprising amount of main roads not conducive to pedestrians , would only lead to less passengers than currently.

The bus route should ideally conveniently connect traffic nodes such as shops, schools etc, to other transport interchanges and to convenient stops where passengers ( not customers , public transport provides passage from place to place ) can quickly access their homes.

As a lot of post WW2 housing estates were designed without thought or reference to buses , this is difficult, and to some extent explains the problem. Low housing density means low potential passenger numbers , hence one reason why bus routes do a Cook's tour in an effort to increase patronage. ( There are other reasons as well for circuitous bus routes )

3 ) has already been done in Melbourne, with some success, think the 900 series of long distance circular routes , whose passenger numbers have held up.

4 ) wheelchair access is now required by law for all new public transport. Real Time arrivals are very slowly being rolled out, but this is expensive to provide , and would you do so if passenger demand is falling ? ( I would argue yes, as it improves passenger confidence in the bus network. )

Buses themselves should be provided with "Next Stop..." displays and audible announcements , this is one reason why the 900 route buses have good patronage.

Personally not convinced that Free on board WiFi is necessary, but if the passengers do want that, then why not. Personel power points would drain the buses battery supply, which is not intended for that purpose. Anyway, you can now purchase back up battery power supplies if you need access to additional power.

Comfortable seats is a matter of opinion, current pattern is a direct result of ongoing vandalism, this also applies to train and tram seats by the way.

5 ) agree, but all the passengers should also have to meet that standard ! I am constantly amazed ( I should not be by now ) at how rude and abusive some people are ; and I do not think it is just me who clearly remembers that my Mum ( and this applies to all children and their mothers ) would not tolerate bad manners from their children , surely adults both should and could be better mannered ?

6 ) as discussed on other fora here, fare box return covers around 46% per ticket sold , so whatever fare system is implemented , it needs to aim for at least a 50% coverage of operating costs , and bearing in mind the spread and low density of Australian Capital cities , that is a difficult ask.

The current tap on / tap off card systems are very slow ( about half of what they are supposed to be ) and fare enforcement is lax , and fare evasion relatively easy. This is due to the claim that automatic systems are cost effective compared to conductors, ticket checkers etc. Toronto Transit Commission / TTC trams give lie to that assertion as TTC has the best fare recovery of any public transit system in North America.

I personally favour a five zone system so that distance travelled is proportionate to the fare table , but that is not what currently applies in suburban Melbourne.

7 ) yes, I fully agree.

8 ) from a social policy point of view, that has merit, but how is the cost of this provision to be met ? See ( 6 ) above.

9 ) agree , but in practice is quite difficult to achieve. Maps are improving, but a lot more needs to be done.
The Yarra Tram timetables and maps I think are a good format , though doing that for longer bus routes could be problematic.

If you had a general 10 minute frequency on all forms of public transport , connectivity would not, of itself be an issue because a maximum of 10 minutes, and frequently less , would elapse between changes modes and connecting with other services.

The obvious problem with buses ( and trams ) is traffic congestion can easily put paid to a reasonable service level. In the above example a 10 minute frequency is a bit useless if bus services cannot meet their schedule due to congestion.

This is currently the case with many western suburban Melbourne bus services where congestion has effectively destroyed the any semblance of service, but this is not a fault of the schedule if the bus spends more time stuck in traffic than it does moving.

10 ) parallel bus routes actually increase the connectivity of adjacent residential areas to access both shops and trains, they re not as counterproductive as you may think. I have recently travelled on a few routes that connect intermediate shops and schools to railway station, and I was surprised at the number of passengers used these services to connect with a train.

11 ) possibly off peak only, and non fold up bikes a definite NO. I ride a non fold up road bike, nothing flash but does the job. If two of us got onto a bus with non fold up bikes, no one else could use the service due to lack of circulating space. New Zealand's use of pram and bike racks on the front of a bus is a possibility , but I have not yet seen this in use , so I cannot comment.

12 ) making car rego costs thousands of dollars per vehicle per annum to meet that objective has David Jone's** chance of ever getting up. Fuel taxes ( excise ) was intended to cover the costs of road provision, and generally did so until the late 1980s when real fuel efficient road vehicles started to become commonplace, These days fuel excise covers around 50% of road costs , and Governments are looking at a Plan B in relation to road funding. Add to that, those reinforced concrete bridges of the 1950s and 1960s have a roughly 70 year average lifespan , and they will also start to need large scale replacement within 10 years, and how will we finance that ?

13 ) TV stations receive revenue for that , so they will not say no to auto industry ads , and most viewers are unlikely to consider auto ads in the same light as cigarette, alcohol, or gambling ads.

Regards, Radioman

PS /Dear YM , ** rhyming slang, David Jones in Melbourne was once Buckley & Nunn , hence Buckleys chance, ie none !

PPS / Dear Heath, I always thought that Adelaide's Route 1 for all Adelaide bound buses was a good idea ! ( a 1967 visit with my Dad. )
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
re the above-

At some point these services have to be paid for , and if patronage is still low, a lot of other questions, and their answers need to be investigated, as the public purse is not a bottomless pit, despite what politicians of all flavours at times imply.

I would prefer to see improved public transport, but realistically , it must meet actual demand, as tax payers money is also needed  for health, education, social security and other equally worthy causes , which, as a society we all, to a greater or lesser extent need at some point in our, and our families, lives.

6 ) as discussed on other fora here, fare box return covers around 46% per ticket sold , so whatever fare system is implemented , it needs to aim for at least a 50% coverage of operating costs , and bearing in mind the spread and low density of Australian Capital cities , that is a difficult ask.

The current tap on / tap off card systems are very slow ( about half of what they are supposed to be ) and fare enforcement is lax , and fare evasion relatively easy. This is due to the claim that automatic systems are cost effective compared to conductors, ticket checkers etc. Toronto Transit Commission / TTC trams give lie to that assertion as TTC has the best fare recovery of any public transit system in North America.

I personally favour a five zone system so that distance travelled is proportionate to the fare table , but that is not what currently applies in suburban Melbourne.

9 ) agree , but in practice is quite difficult to achieve. Maps are improving, but a lot more needs to be done.

This is currently the case with many western suburban Melbourne bus services where congestion has effectively destroyed the any semblance of service, but this is not a fault of the schedule if the bus spends more time stuck in traffic than it does moving.

Regards, Radioman

PS /Dear YM , ** rhyming slang, David Jones in Melbourne was once Buckley & Nunn , hence Buckleys chance, ie none !

PPS / Dear Heath, I always thought that Adelaide's Route 1 for all Adelaide bound buses was a good idea ! ( a 1967 visit with my Dad. )
Radioman
Great post Radioman, just a couple of points if I may.......

re the first point that I have quoted, I believe you left something out - as the public purse is not a bottomless pit, despite what politicians of all flavours and quite a few on Railpage at times imply

6/ absolutely agree here, compliance on the buses I catch is appalling and I can't remember the last time I saw an Authorized Officer on a bus on the Route 200 / 207 and 402 services that I catch regularly.

Re your 5 zone idea there is no reason with Myki and GPS tracking that fares on buses cannot be charged in accordance with the actual distance traveled rounded to the nearest stop or two. Same with train and tram travel. I used to regularly take a bus from Kew to Collingwood and have to pay $8 per day for the privilege.

9/ again, spot on, citing the services above that I use the timetables are a work of pure fantasy. It is not even like a turn up and go service where the buses just happen along - on the 200/207 when I try to get from Victoria Park to Kew at around 6.15pm it is quite common to have to wait 15 > 20 minutes and then 2 or 3 buses come along playing bus chasey. The roads are just too narrow and too congested to allow for any sort of on time running.

And finally to Rhyming Slang - the expression to have Buckley's chance or nil and Buckley's or Buckley's and None is not actually rhyming slang but more of an idiom. Rhyming slang as the name suggests must be once more removed from the saying so you need to rhyme the last word to get the true meaning - ie China Plate = Mate. Then that becomes just China by omitting the last word hence 'ello me ol' China. Or one of my personal favorites the expression "to blow a Raspberry" which is derived from rhyming slang - Raspberry Tart = Fart!

Rhyming slang was IIRC developed in the East End of London to allow crooks to go about their business in earshot of the Old Bill without them understanding what was going on.

BG

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