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It's about as simple as a bus route can get. Route 844 leaves Dandenong Station, heads east, does a small loop, waits at its Doveton terminus for two or three minutes then returns to Dandenong.
It's done that for about as long as most people can remember. And, as you'll see later, its 2019 timetable is almost the same as when (the late) Bob Hawke was prime minister.
Route 844 gets good patronage for its service level. Doveton, its main service area, is characterised by high social disadvantage, low average incomes and the almost complete lack of a middle or upper class since local car manufacturing declined and closed. With no significant shops within walking distance, it forms a real lifeline, especially for those who don't drive or cannot walk to other services.
As you'll see later, if you wanted evidence that there is zero correlation between social need and public transport service provision in Melbourne, the timetables for Route 844 (and similar routes around Dandenong) provide the proof needed.
The route map is below:
You can see how the 844 relates to the overall network below:
On leaving Dandenong Route 844 overlaps Route 828 before heading north then east. There it provides unique coverage. Roads form barriers to the north and east. So even if it wanted to it couldn't go in those directions. This makes it purely a shopper and train feeder to Dandenong.
Route 844 runs every 30 minutes most of the day on weekdays. Its span only just exceeds normal commuting hours except for a 70 minute gap until the last departure from Dandenong at 7:45pm.
The Saturday timetable features an hourly frequency. Its span reflects old-style suburban shopping and working patterns. That includes a somewhat earlier Saturday start and a much earlier Saturday finish than is common for other bus routes in Melbourne.
In other words, whereas the minimum service standards for Melbourne bus routes is 8am - 9pm on Saturdays, Route 844 only runs from 7am to 3pm. The afternoon finish is only slightly more generous than the traditional noon or 1pm closing of main street shops. It does not reflect the Saturday afternoon trading hours deregulation of the 1980s. Dandenong Plaza, for instance, closes at 5pm Saturdays.
Missing out on being upgraded to minimum service standards also means no Sunday service. Poor pedestrian permeability in the area (due to the freeway) means limited options for Sunday travellers. These include a walk west to the Endeavour Hills routes (which provide a frequent weekday service but, as they also missed out on minimum standards upgrades, each run only a few Sunday trips) or to the south where the hourly 828 is available.
What was Route 844 like in the past? Krustylink presents this 1991 timetable.
Apart from minor changes to times there has been no significant change in almost 30 years. Route 844 would indeed appear to be the bus that time forgot.
What would you do with Route 844? Should it extend south via Doveton Avenue to provide connection opportunities to destinations like Fountain Gate or Berwick (via 828) or Cranbourne (via 893)? Could it go slightly further to operate as a feeder to a reopened General Motors station? Or do you think it should get better operating hours and frequency?
Please comment below if you have a view.
This item was written by Peter Parker http://www.melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
This article first appeared on melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
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