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Sydney's busiest bus route is the 400 from Burwood in the west to Bondi Junction via Sydney Airport, data from NSW's Opal electronic ticketing system shows.
About 16,000 journeys are taken on the 400 service – the only bus that drops passengers at the airport – on a typical week day.
The crowning of the 400 as the city's busiest route comes as the Baird government encourages commuters to use phone apps to find out how crowded a bus is before it arrives, allowing them to decide whether to board or wait for the next service.
The NextThere app is the first to provide a real-time assessment of crowding on buses, and began a live feed to users on Wednesday.
Opal data gives a more accurate picture of demand for bus services. Photo: Brendan EspositoThe Opal data is also providing transport planners a more accurate picture of demand for services across Sydney's trains, buses and ferries than the traditional method of counting passengers at stops and stations.
In the evening peak, M20 buses between Sydney's CBD and the fast-growing Green Square precinct in the inner south are also consistently among the most crammed.
Since 2011, an extra 490 services have been put on routes to and from Green Square. A boom in apartment construction at Green Square and neighbouring suburbs such as Waterloo has led to a surge in population and demand for public transport.
In the mornings, the 900 bus that provides a shuttle around central Paramatta, the 55C "Gong Shuttle" in Wollongong, and the 617X from Rouse Hill to Sydney's CBD feature among the most crowded.
On Wednesday morning, real-time data from Opal showed 71 per cent of the 900 services had standing room only, while three out of every five 55C and 617X buses had no seats available for passengers.
Rupert Hanson, creator of the NextThere app, said the real-time data would allow people to make informed decisions about whether to get on board a crowded bus or wait for the next service.
"It seems to be a real great side-effect of having rolled out Opal," he said.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the government had invested about $100 million on new and extra buses for the coming year.
"While the app won't create more seats, it will give people more choice," he said.
While the 400 service remains the only bus to stop at Sydney Airport, the government has committed to providing an extra two bus services– one from the city's south and another from the inner west – once a new interchange is completed at the domestic terminal in 2018.
The seven-storey interchange will include a drop-off and pick-up area for buses as large as double-deckers.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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