McGill's & Alexander Dennis
South East Transport Changes from 2 December
Featured Bus Route – October 2018
DATE FOR THE DIARY - 25th November - Finchley Bus Running Day
Alexander Dennis & Lothian
Buses on Parade
The non-Inner West bus routes to be privatised
Leeds Considering Hydrogen Powered Buses
New CEO for First Group & Results for Six Months to September 2018
Alexander Dennis at Euro Bus Expo 2018
Last week we covered Hampton Park to Berwick in the City of Casey. It proposed some frequent, Useful Network routes along main roads serving key destinations like Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, Dandenong Hospital and various TAFE and university campuses. I didn't say much about local routes. But these too should be subject to review, with attention paid to simplicity, coverage, strong termini and timetables that connect with trains.
The northern part of last week’s expanded Useful Network is below. The main change for Endeavour Hills is the extended 841 along Heatherton Rd operating every 20 minutes. This replaces the thrice-daily 842 from Fountain Gate and provides a new, direct connection to Dandenong via the hospital and Chisholm TAFE. This removes the need for Endeavour Hills passengers to change buses to make a short distance (but likely popular) trip. And, as you’ll see later the extended 841 permits a simpler Endeavour Hills local network. I'll discuss that later.
Endeavour Hills community profile
Endeavour Hills is a large and established 1970s-80s era suburb comprising mostly stand-alone houses. Leafier and with bigger homes than Doveton to the south, it is one of the higher income parts of the Dandenong area. Its street layout reflects the fashions of 1970s traffic engineers.
Their doctrine favoured a road hierarchy comprising a coarse limited access main road grid good for car traffic throughput (but impermeable for pedestrians) and curvy local streets good for slowing cars (but poor for simple, fast and direct walking and bus routes). A medium sized drive-in shopping centre, not walkable from most areas, services the whole suburb. There are no main street shopping strips and few local milkbars. There is good access to the freeway but the suburb’s separation from other areas makes it poor for active transport.
Endeavour Hills is an interesting contrast to neighbouring Doveton, planned in the 1950s to house automotive and allied industrial workers. This has straighter streets, is more contiguous with surrounding land uses (including industry jobs) and has several small local shopping strips. Homes might have one car but rarely two.
A parallel to Endeavour Hills in terms of layout and era is Weston Creek in Canberra, with Woden performing a similar role to Dandenong as a major suburban centre and transit hub. Again its peripheral location and wandering internal streets have impeded efficient and direct bus services.
Existing network and services
Partly due to the local street layout Endeavour Hills local bus routes are indirect and complex. They have not had a serious revamp for years. What changes reflect ‘graftings on’ with one recent addition (863) and a small extension of one other route (843) to the shopping centre.
Four main routes (843, 845, 849 and 861) extend from Dandenong with weak termini. Each operates at the same frequency; 40 minutes on weekdays, 60 minutes on Saturdays and 120 minutes on Sundays. Because they go the same way to Dandenong the routes combine to provide a more frequent service where they overlap in northern Doveton.
A 2006 – 2010 program rolled out ‘minimum service standards’ to bus routes across Melbourne, with service at least hourly until 9pm seven days per week. Despite high social needs and good patronage the Dandenong area got dudded, with only a few routes getting upgrades. This is why the premier’s seat of Mulgrave (which is close to Dandenong) has amongst the least bus service in Melbourne, particularly on Sundays. Endeavour Hills does get daily service but operating hours are short and the two-hour gaps between buses are double the minimum standard.
Endeavour Hills is split between two electoral districts. These are Dandenong (Gabrielle Williams MP) and Narre Warren North (Luke Donnellan MP).
The limited Sunday timetables aren't the only quirks with Endeavour Hills buses. Whereas trains, trams and some buses have later services on Friday and Saturday nights than on other nights, in Endeavour Hills the late services are on Thursday and Friday nights. This possibly dates from when Thursday nights was late night shopping in the suburbs.
Late weeknight finishes like these are now rare on Melbourne buses. They used to be common in the days before minimum standards when most routes finished at 7pm but some had trips added for late night shopping. And they were even more common before the 1990/91 bus service cuts. More recently minimum standards upgrades effectively scheduled what were late shopper trips seven nights per week on the routes that got them with widespread 9pm finishes.
“You can go anywhere you want as long as it’s Dandenong”. That’s only a slight exaggeration if we’re talking about buses in Endeavour Hills. Yes, Endeavour Hills has two non-Dandenong routes. The 843 goes to Fountain Gate so could potentially be useful. Except its timetable has just three trips on weekdays and none on weekends. One can also go to Hallam Station and Hampton Park Shopping Centre via the 863. This is a new route. Unlike all other Endeavour Hills routes it runs to minimum standards. Even on Sundays with buses every 40 minutes. Unfortunately it doesn’t go to places local people want to go to and patronage is very poor. In contrast, even though Dandenong Hospital, Chisholm TAFE and the centre of Endeavour Hills are on Heatherton Rd there is no direct route linking them.
The extended 841 addresses this issue by providing a new way into Endeavour Hills from Dandenong via key trip generators. A large part of the funding for it can come from what we decide to do with the existing Endeavour Hills bus network, which I’ll discuss later.
Heatherton Rd SmartBus proposed in 2010 Bus Review
Further confirmation of the worth of a Heatherton Rd connection from Dandenong to Endeavour Hills (and Fountain Gate) came in the 2010 government-commissioned Cardinia Casey Greater Dandenong Bus Service Review. It pointed out that there were 5000 jobs and 15000 students in the education and health precinct just north of Dandenong. It proposed a realignment of Route 861 via north Dandenong, extension to Fountain Gate and an upgrade to a Principal Network (ie SmartBus) service level. The eastern part of the route is different but it's conceptually similar to the 841 Heatherton Rd/Dandenong extension mentioned above.
The review found that Route 844 in Doveton had good patronage performance but a dead end terminus. It proposed a south and east extension to Hallam and Fountain Gate. Reforms were proposed to local routes 843, 845 and 849 - see the link above for more information.
Revamped Endeavour Hills bus network
Endeavour Hills’ bus and pedestrian hostile street layout makes it difficult to economically provide fast and direct bus routes that everyone can walk to. The map below is my best attempt. It retains service at nearly all existing stops while reducing the number of routes by two. Some local trips are less direct but everyone retains one bus access to Endeavour Hills Shopping Centre and, in most cases, Dandenong. The network is also simpler than that proposed in the Bus Review.
The centrepiece of the new Endeavour Hills network is the extended Route 841 mentioned last week. This provides an efficient alternative connection to Dandenong (via Chisholm TAFE and Dandenong Hospital) and seven day service to Fountain Gate (and beyond).
Much of Endeavour Hills is remote from Heatherton Rd and the abovementioned 841. Hence neighbourhood routes, serving areas north and south, are needed. A pair comprising Route 842 (a reused number) and an altered 843 is suggested. Both operate from Dandenong to Endeavour Hills Shopping Centre. They operate as a through-routed pair, similar to 494 and 495 in Point Cook. This means that 842 trips arriving at Endeavour Hills Shopping Centre have only a short dwell time before forming Route 843 trips back to Dandenong. And vice versa. On every trip.
This means that those in James Cook Drive wishing to go to Dandenong get a faster ride if they get the westbound 843, remain on the bus at the shopping centre as it forms a (new) 842 and then get a direct trip to Dandenong. A similar arrangement already happens with the 845 and 849 so residents won’t be unfamiliar with it.
Overall frequency is also improved. Departures of 842 and 843 at Dandenong would be evenly staggered so that those going home can board either bus, benefiting from a doubled frequency. The use of consecutive numbers and departure from the same bay at Dandenong Station would make communicating this simple.
How frequently would the 842 and 843 operate? A base 40 minute frequency (Monday to Sunday) is similar to current weekday service levels and a major boost to weekend services. Staggering would give a 20 minute combined frequency from Dandenong. Peak services on each route might rise to 20 or 30 minutes. Evening frequency might be hourly (or 30 min combined) with operating hours extended where they don’t currently meet the 9pm finish minimum standard.
Because the 842/843 pair replaces four existing routes (843, 845, 849, 861) this arrangement should be cheaper than now. The freed resources would go towards (but not entirely fund) the 841 extension (with wider benefits as far south as Cranbourne). If this is successful additional short trips could run from Endeavour Hills to Dandenong to provide a combined 10 minute service during peak times.
Every bus network reform has some downsides. This is no exception. A price for merging 4 routes into 2 (or more strictly 5 into 3 with the 841 extension playing a major role and replacing the current 842) is that some streets could lose buses. The unhelpful road pattern extends walking distances longer than they should be.
A modified 863 (numbered as 845 above) is suggested to provide fill-in coverage, connecting people to trains at Hallam Station and shops at Endeavour Hills. Its northern terminus is weak so is not something I would normally do. However there is no logical place to economically extend it. Due to 863’s currently low patronage a 60 minute 7-day frequency is suggested though a 40 minute service would connect better to local routes like the 842 and 843.
Not much change is suggested for Doveton. The main network change is extending Route 844 south to the highway. This provides connections to two east-west routes and more local shops. 844 would also gain 7 day service and longer hours, as is appropriate for a popular route in a high social needs area. I considered an eastern extension to Hallam but this would overlap other routes and cost money that I'd prefer spent on the 841 Dandenong extension and service upgrade.
Route 828 would become part of the 830, starting at Dandenong instead of Hampton and extending east to Pakenham. Its weekend service could be every 20 or 30 minutes rather than the current 40 to 60 minutes. Either 20 or 30 minutes on weekends would suit trains at Dandenong but the more expensive 20 minute option would be better for bus/train connections at Berwick Station. 40 minutes would be the cheap option, still delivering an upgrade for all of 926 and a Sunday upgrade for Doveton.
Both the 844 and 828/830 changes are self-contained and can be done independently of the other reforms discussed here.
Described is a local bus network for Endeavour Hills. In conjunction with the Heatherton Rd route it should provide improved access to attractions such as Fountain Gate Shopping Centre along with health and education services at Dandenong. Also local routes would provide a higher combined frequency from Dandenong than operate now, especially on weekends.
What do you think? Please leave your comments below.
This item was written by Peter Parker http://www.melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
This article first appeared on melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
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