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Back in August (Part 18 of the Useful Network) I proposed 12 improved links that could transform the public transport network in Melbourne. They would provide strong feeder and circumferential travel that our network still often lacks. As well as improving connectivity to jobs, shopping centres and universities.
The Sunshine - Airport connection seemed to be the one that captured peoples imagination. Although I suspect that some of the others would get better patronage on a boardings / kilometre basis.
Inevitably with this exercise some links didn't make the top 12. But they'd still be very useful for the network. Today we'll discuss a 'second twelve' of possibly less critical but still very useful main road connections.
All are likely important if we want to improve patronage on our underperforming bus network from the current 120 million trips to about 200 million trips annually.
#1 Epping - Childs Rd - Mill Park - Greensborough (new Route 565)
This is a service that's currently almost there but not quite in the form of the 566. It has three main problems. 1. It starts at Lalor, not Epping. Its weak western terminus means it misses important shopping, health and transport connections. 2. It's very confusing, looping over itself. 3. Its 24 minute frequency is unsuitable for connecting with trains every 20 minutes.
All this can be fixed by extending the route to Epping, splitting it at Greensborough/renumbering northern part to 565 and boosting its frequency to an even 20 minutes to mesh with trains. Improved weekend service and longer operating hours would also be desirable. Map below shows how it might operate.
#2 Keysborough - Dandenong South - Hampton Park - Narre Warren South (new Route 851)
Dandenong South is a major employment hub in Melbourne's south east. Its main route is the 901 SmartBus, running north-south. Other routes in the area are either limited service (857, also north-south) or don't connect in with many residential areas (the 890).
Meanwhile there is no fast South Keysborough to Noble Park connection via Corrigan Road or direct Fountain Gate route from South Keysborough.
A new east-west route, incorporating resources from the existing 895, would provide these connections. I discuss it in Useful Network 26. It would run from Noble Park to Fountain Gate via Corrigan Rd, Keysborough South, Dandenong South, Hampton Park and Narre Warren Station. These destinations should make it a useful route for a variety of shopping, working and commuting trips.
#3 Point Cook/Sneydes Rd to Hoppers Crossing and Werribee Plaza (extended Route 496)
Existing bus routes in Point Cook are well used. However most of the suburb gets buses to one station only - Williams Landing. Hoppers Crossing is only served by Route 498, and even then from the northern part of Point Cook.
Local residents have tried a indirect demand responsive trial bus ('Wynbus') to provide new connections to Hoppers Crossing from some of these southern areas.
A suggested permanent option is a Sneydes Rd bus that runs to Hoppers Crossing Station and potentially on to Werribee Plaza (Pacific Werribee). This would improve access to education facilities (eg Suzanne Cory & VU) as well as trains at Hoppers Crossing and indirectly community services in Werribee CBD. The extra way out of Point Cook would be a bonus given traffic issues on Palmers Rd and Point Cook Rd.
This could be done by extending and straightening the existing Route 496 from Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre to Hoppers Crossing (and possibly Werribee Plaza) via Sneydes Rd. As part of this the Sanctuary Lakes loop would need to be done by another route, possibly one operating to Williams Landing Station.
#4 Dandenong - Dandenong Hospital - Endeavour Hills - Fountain Gate - Narre Warren - Cranbourne (extended 841)
From most of Endeavour Hills you can easily go anywhere provided it's central Dandenong. Access to the TAFE and hospital is indirect, even though Endeavour Hills is only a few kilometres to the east along Heatherton Rd. The area's main shopping centre, Fountain Gate, is also difficult to reach, with the local bus there (842) operating just thrice daily on weekdays and not at all on weekends.
A solution to this is to extend the existing route 841 from Narre Warren North to Dandenong via Endeavour Hills and Heatherton Rd. This would greatly improve connectivity to TAFE and the hospital from the east by providing a fast main road bus connection. Buses would operate every 20 minutes off-peak, connecting with every second train at Dandenong and every train at Narre Warren.
#5 Sunshine - Watergardens via Sunshine Rd (rerouted 419)
Sunshine is growing as a transport and civic hub. Many regional trains stop there. An airport rail link from there is on the cards. And it's a major bus interchange. Currently though access to its direct north is difficult. The 903 SmartBus goes part way but not very far. Consequently even quite short trips require a train and bus connection.
A way to improve direct bus access from Sunshine is to straighten Route 419 from Watergardens. Instead of turning right to to to St Albans via Main Road East, it would continue south to Sunshine. This would provide many more people with a direct bus to Sunshine. A 20 minute frequency, double the current 40 minute off-peak service, is suggested.
Some local network changes would be required to ensure that Main Road East retains service equal to or better than now. This could include extending Route 406 from Keilor East to St Albans via Main Road East. Also 419's route into Sunshine could replace the 903 SmartBus orbital which could instead be routed via Braybrook and Highpoint (replacing the 408). This arrangement would bring a SmartBus to a high patronage residential area and remove its duplication with the long-established Route 465 on Buckley St.
Useful Network Part 6 has further details.
#6 Springvale - Dandenong via Heatherton Rd (new Route 810)
Some of the most productive areas for bus usage are found in the Springvale / Noble Park / Dandenong area. Average incomes are low, car ownership is not universal and the proportion of people not in the labour force means that there is significant all-day patronage. Unfortunately most local routes only operate hourly when a 20 minute frequency is justified. The local network is also complex with no real overhaul for decades.
Part of an overhaul could entail a new route along Heatherton Rd. This would run more frequently and replace the existing hourly Route 811. This is a complex route that, in conjunction with 812, provides a higher frequency in places with unfavourable demographics for buses (eg Brighton) but a lower frequency in areas that would more uses buses (eg Springvale/Keysborough/Dandenong). It also contributes to the substantial service duplication in the area.
A significant overhaul of local buses would be required. Full details are presented in Useful Network Part 4.
#7 Bayswater - Scoresby Rd - Knox City (664 rerouting)
Some main roads have a better service at 2am on a Sunday than any other time of the week. Scoresby Rd in the City of Knox is an example. While it has an hourly Night Network bus in the small hours of Saturday and Sunday, its weekday service comprises just one trip on the 745A. Other routes like the 753 either go via back streets or run occasional deviations only.
These areas were settled more than 30 years ago but never got a full local bus network. The otherwise comprehensive minimum service standards program from 10 years ago passed over most local routes. And consultants got paid to do local bus reviews but little was ever implemented.
A major improvement would be to reroute the 664 via Scoresby Rd instead of Stud Rd. This would remove its partial overlap with the 901 SmartBus and greatly improve service. A local route (662 on map) could run where the 664 does now between Bayswater and Knox City.
A needed upgrade of Ringwood line trains to run every 10 / 20 minutes on weekdays off-peak could be accompanied by improving Route 664 to every 20 minutes to mesh in well with trains at Bayswater.
#8 Seaford - Carrum Downs - Cranbourne via industrial area (778 upgrade and extension)
There are many jobs in the Carrum Downs/Seaford industrial area. Surrounding suburbs with blue collar demographics include Carrum Downs and Cranbourne. There is also a need to more directly connect CBD commuters to local stations such as Seaford.
The current Route 778 starts at Kananook Station and finishes at a weak terminus in Carrum Downs. It serves jobs but not many residential areas. And its 5-day timetable is very limited.
Quite recently Route 760 started between Seaford and Cranbourne. This provides a desirable east-west connection. However parts of its route are indirect. And it misses large parts of the industrial area.
The upgrade suggested here would make the 778 more useful. Instead of Kananook the route would start at Seaford (which has local attractions including beach, shops and supermarket) and does not represent a backtracking to the station. Then it serves more of the industrial area before going through the heart of Carrum Downs past the shopping centre on Hall Rd. The route would then run to Cranbourne along the existing Route 760 alignment. The current 760 could either terminate at Carrum Downs Shopping Centre or continue to Cranbourne via another alignment.
See Useful Network Part 7 for more details.
#9 Rowville to Ferntree Gully Station (900 SmartBus extension)
It's a difficult trip from most of Rowville and Lysterfield to the nearest railway station at Ferntree Gully. This populated area has just one seven day bus route that does it. This is the mostly half-hourly and sometimes looping 691.
It's not that there aren't other routes in the area. The even less direct 681 and 682 get to within about 3km of the station before looping away. Then there are Telebuses 7 and 8. These are flexible route services of the type that some see as a cure to low usage on and lack of coverage of conventional fixed route buses. PTV's site lists them here but unhelpfully omits links to timetables.
When one does find them they aren't exciting. Off-peak trips are a hard to remember 50 minute headway. Only peak trips extend to the station every 25 or 30 minutes in the morning and from the station approximately hourly at night. Last departures are 6:25pm on Route 7 and 6:55pm on Route 8. Hence you can't leave the city much after 5 or 5:30pm and make the last bus.
While it wouldn't bring transport near everyone (due to street patterns unfavourable for bus access) a major advance would be to extend the Route 900 SmartBus from Stud Park to Upper Ferntree Gully via Kelletts Rd. Efficiency would be maximised by reforming local routes to provide a simpler network.
#10 Dandenong - Dandenong North - Glen Waverley
Glen Waverley is densifying and is a future stop on the proposed Suburban Rail Loop. Dandenong is another major suburban centre with a significant hospital and TAFE campus just to its north. In between are residential areas (Wheelers Hill and Dandenong North) remote from trains or trams with only infrequent buses (often on indirect routes).
While there is currently a Glen Waverley to Dandenong route (850) it runs only every half hour on weekdays and hourly on weekends. Another route (848) operates from Dandenong towards Glen Waverley but terminates at Brandon Park.
This new route, operating every 15 to 20 minutes has several benefits. Buses going each way are likely to be used as station feeders. Then there is its usefulness for those travelling directly between the two major centres.
This route would have a significant expense if simply layered over existing routes. Instead it should be introduced as part of a wider network reform such as discussed in Useful Network Part 4.
#11 Epping to Craigieburn (extended 357)
This is one of the weaker inclusions in the 'second twelve'. Some might suggest it shouldn't be here at all. While an extension would solve 357's 'weak terminus' problem, the extra catchment it would gain is quite small, especially on the portion near the Hume Freeway.
In its favour is that current connectivity between (say) Craigieburn West and attractions in the Epping is poor. Very often it would be a three vehicle trip involving a local route (eg 529), a train one station to Roxburgh Park then a 901 to Epping. The train and 901 timetables are at unharmonised frequencies at most of the time.
Also areas like Craigieburn West are both densely populated and have demographics very favourable to bus ridership. This is reflected in the very high productivity of local routes like the 529 and, to a lesser extent, the 533.
Such demographics may aid Route 357 if extended. Such an extension would simplify and speed travel to Epping which is home to major shopping, education and health services. Only one change from a local Craigieburn route would be required, especially if the 357 extended westward to the town centre. The map below gives a rough idea of the extension which I first suggested in Useful Network 13. While it has the 357 being extended, there is no reason why one of the other routes couldn't run to Craigieburn instead if that is better for services in the fast-growing Epping North and Wollert areas.
#12 Monash University to Mordialloc (extended and upgraded 705)
Look at a map of Melbourne's southern suburbs (eg below). Warrigal Rd and Springvale Rd both have SmartBuses operating every 15 minutes (weekdays) over long hours. They're over 5km apart.
In the middle is Boundary Rd which becomes Clayton Rd. Most of it has little service.
To the south, off the map is Aspendale Gardens and Chelsea Heights. Except for areas near the 902 SmartBus they are poorly connected to useful destinations by public transport. But they are getting a new freeway that's currently under construction.
The nearest big university to the area is Monash Clayton. Access to it is quite difficult by public transport. Those near a train can alight at Ormond or Bentleigh and get the 630 or 703 respectively. Another possibility is getting of at Southland Station, walk to the shopping centre bus interchange and get the indirect and less frequent 631.
Those near the 902 SmartBus can alight at Wellington Rd and get the 900 west. But unlike inner-suburbs tram-tram interchanges the bus stops are not right at the corners. Traffic light cycles are long and turning radii long. All these are consistent with road builders maximising car traffic throughput at the expense of pedestrian access and interchange between bus routes.
Those not near a train or SmartBus need to get a bus (708 every half-hour) to Mordialloc then a train then a bus. The total travel time to Monash University might be around 90 minutes depending on connections.
A public transport equivalent to the freeway extension could be a bus up Boundary Rd. It could operate between Mordialloc and Monash Clayton. This would particularly assist those travelling from the Aspendale Gardens area since there would only be a single bus to bus change at Mordialloc. Much of catchment is lower density than along Warrigal and Springvale roads. However there are some light industrial area jobs that an improved service would boost access to.
A reformed network in the area might involve changes to 705 and 821. 705 currently runs from Mordialloc but only during peak periods, and even then infrequently. It terminates at Springvale. 821 currently runs from Southland to Clayton. Swapping their destinations would make 705 a simpler north-south route and 821 more an east-west route. More details on this network are in Useful Network Part 7.
What do you think of these connections? Would they get much use? And are some so important they should be in the first twelve? Please leave your thoughts 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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