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Last month Infrastructure Australia came up with a priority list of important infrastructure projects around Australia. One of those featured (page 137) was a package of public transport connectivity improvements for Frankston. This included not just the infrastructure that we're used to seeing in these documents but also networks and services. A summary from the IA document is below.
The local Frankston Standard Leader picked up on this with the article below, which concentrates on the extension of rail electrification to Baxter.
Meanwhile the Mornington Peninsula local paper isn't happy that the priority has gone to Frankston and not them. As to whether this means anything I'm not sure; IA is basically a federal government think tank with no powers and no budget. Canberra may put money into infrastructure but money for services is generally a state responsibility. And since the Mornington Peninsula is an important dormitory for jobs and services in Frankston and buses can be crowded, service upgrades there could be in scope. More on this later.
Existing Useful Network
I explain the Useful Network concept here. It's those routes that are frequent enough and run over long enough hours to be useful for many trips. I've specified a 20 minute frequency on weekdays and 7 day service until 9pm. In other words the coloured lines on the Melbourne Public Transport Frequent Network map with the 20 minute frequency selected.
The map extract below shows how sparse it is in the Frankston area. There are four main corridors - the Frankston train line to the north, the 901 orbital bus to the north-west, the 791 bus towards Cranbourne and 781 784 785 buses towards Mornington. While Bayside Shopping Centre and Chisholm TAFE are near the station, the hospitals and Monash University are slightly away. As is the Frankston Power Centre which has significant retail employment.
The typical local bus route in Frankston runs just once an hour, even sometimes during peak periods. There are often confusing deviations and loops (like the 770/771) and operating hours can be very restricted. The latter is because parts of the area (notably Frankston South and the Mornington Peninsula) missed out on the 2006 - 2010 program of minimum service standards upgraded that gave many suburbs 7 day bus service to 9pm. More than other parts of Melbourne network coverage is a severe problem on the Mornington Peninsula with many settled areas getting no buses at all (unless you're a senior in which case you can use the council's weekly 'Dial a Ride' service). And even where buses operate there may be no stops, such as on a 1km section of Moorooduc Hwy beyond the hospitals.
Proposed infrastructure upgrades and service boosts
Because frequencies are so limited and there are significant coverage gaps, any substantial network improvement will require more buses and driver hours. Infrastructure improvements are also desirable even if there is no electrified rail extension. This map and the following list, elaborating on the IA work, give some good projects to start with.
1. Northern entrance for Frankston Station. Frankston Station is close to the centre of Frankston but has just a single southern entrance. You can be just metres from a waiting train when exiting Bayside Shopping Centre on Beach Rd but be unable to board it for the lack of an entrance. A new northern entrance, especially if part of a Beach St pedestrian spine, makes the station central to much more of Frankston including shopping, the beach and police station to the west and housing to the east. It would also stimulate inner (Frankston) city living and urban renewal as streets off Beach St would become more attractive for residents with improved transport access.
2. Improved passenger information at Frankston Station. Frankston Station, as the public transport gateway to the Mornington Peninsula, has a larger residential and visitor catchment than almost any other electrified rail station in Melbourne. While the station was recently rebuilt its passenger information remains abysmal with few directions to local buses or network maps. Station staff have had to resort to small maps run off on the office photocopier because PTV didn't finish the job or got misguided ideas about passenger information needs. Better information would be the cheapest and quickest infrastructure project of all those covered here but its addition would greatly improve station usability. More on this here.
3. Improved walking and cycling infrastructure near key attractions. Every public transport users is a pedestrian. Encouraging walking and cycling reduces competition for parking and increases the use and attractiveness of public transport. Parts of Frankston, including Monash University, the hospital precinct and police station have poor pedestrian access. Low-cost improvements include giving priority to pedestrians in a wider part of central Frankston, including near Monash University, the hospitals, police station and Nepean Hwy. Possible treatments include lower speed limits, more zebra crossings, replacement of roundabouts with signals and shorter traffic light cycle times to reduce waiting.
4. Add new bus stops on Moorooduc Hwy, Frankston. Buses operate but there is a gap of about 1km between stops south-east of the hospitals. This is despite the area being populated and typical bus stop spacing being 300 to 400 metres. One or two extra bus stops in each direction would fill the gap and greatly increase public transport access in the area.
5. Stony Point line upgrade. There have been various proposals. These include a proposal to electrify to Baxter and potentially move Leawarra Station to be nearer the hospitals. Baxter is seen as a potential park and ride for the Mornington Peninsula, removing pressure from stations such as Frankston and Seaford. Improved buses could also potentially feed in to Baxter.
Then there's the Stony Point line beyond Baxter. It's largely a single line, imposing frequency limitations with trains only every 90 to 120 minutes. An improved service would require amplification with passing loops to permit a more useful frequency to operate, even if only as far south of Hastings.
6. Boost inner portion of Routes 782 and 783 to a 20 minute combined service. Bus routes 782 and 783 typically each operate every two hours with a 30 minute combined frequency only at morning and evening peak times. Along with the Stony Point train these routes provide the fastest connection between Frankston Station and Monash University. However like the train service frequency is low. This upgrade would add extra trips to provide a combined 20 minute weekday frequency to improve university connections. Such a combined frequency may operate as far as Hastings, though thought should be given to a local area network review to improve directness and simplify service.
7. Boost Route 788 to operate every 20 to 30 minutes seven days per week. Route 788, from Frankston to Portsea, is the area's longest bus route. It regularly gets so crowded that drivers sometimes have to leave waiting passengers behind. Particularly busy times are during weekday peak periods and on weekends. Services are typically only every 40 to 50 minutes on weekdays and every 60 to 80 minutes on weekends. Train connections, particularly on Sunday mornings, can be poor with waits approaching an hour. A frequency upgrade, especially at high demand times such as peak periods and weekends, would greatly improve access to jobs and opportunities from an underserved area. Network options might include a boost to all of the 788 or the addition of a second Frankston to Portsea route that combines with the 788 to provide a high Frankston - Rosebud frequency but fans out west of Rosebud to serve currently unserved areas eg Melbourne Rd. More on the 788 here.
8. Bus network review for the Mornington Peninsula. Beyond Mt Martha and Hasting there are no public transport services that operate to 'minimum service standards' - that is seven day service every 60 minutes or better until at least 9pm. Many areas, despite near-suburban population densities, may only have a few trips on weekdays. Coverage is also a major issue with Mornington Peninsula having a higher proportion of homes without any form of public transport than comparable fringe areas. As a result the Mornington Peninsula Shire runs its own demand responsive shopper network for seniors and other eligible people. Such a network is no substitute for regular public transport coverage that a network review would likely recommend. Key areas where extra coverage is needed include Mt Eliza, Mornington, Mt Martha and a wide strip behind Rosebud away from the bay. More on improved Mornington Peninsula buses here.
9. Route 770 simplification and frequency upgrade. Route 770 between Frankston and Karingal has a wide catchment and fairly good existing patronage. However it is indirect with it running on different roads depending on whether it is going to or from Frankston. This makes it a very confusing route to catch. Simplifying the route and upgrading its frequency to every 20 minutes would greatly improve access to Frankston and expand the area's 'Useful Network'. More detail here.
10. Route 771 simplification. Like Route 770 discussed above, Route 771 is also very complicated with it operating on different streets depending on whether it is going to or from Frankston. Because they serve a similar area both routes should be simplified at the same time even if Route 770's frequency is not improved then. As well as simplifying in the Karingal area scope exists to reroute the eastern end of the 771 to provide access to Gateway Shopping Centre in Langwarrin. More detail here.
11. Route 775 simplification and frequency upgrade. Route 775 is one of the most productive bus routes in Frankston. It is however a loop, somewhat limited by a difficult road network and lack of crossings due to the Mornington Peninsula Freeway and the Stony Point railway. A possible simplification could be to operate it as a linear route which forms another route (let's call it 774, ie a modification of the existing route) to continue its trip into Frankston. Route 774 might do likewise, forming 775 trips on their return to Frankston. If both were upgraded to operate every 40 minutes (30 min peak) and trips staggered to arrive and depart at Frankston every 20 min (15 min peak) then an overall upgraded service could be the result.
12. Route 772, 773 and 774 simplification and improved operating hours. Frankston South has a very complex bus network. Like many outer eastern suburbs its road layout is difficult for buses and population density is often somewhat below suburban levels. However Frankston High School attracts significant patronage. And, as is common in the Frankston area, weekend patronage is healthy despite often infrequent service. This is why 774 was nominated as one of the routes very deserving of Sunday service here. A network review might simplify 772, 773 and 774, add 7 day service and remove occasional deviations and thus make local buses more useful.
13. Route 833 frequency upgrade. Route 833 has busy and quieter portions. The busy portion is around Frankston North and part of Carrum Downs south of Carrum Downs Shopping Centre. In contrast the northern part into Carrum station is quiet (not least due to overlap with other routes). Frankston North has a significant low income residential catchment with few local services in the suburb itself. It is likely to respond well if services were increased from every 30 to every 20 minutes. The cost of this upgrade could be lessened if only every second trip extended north of Carrum Downs Shopping Centre to Carrum and the Frankston - Dandenong Rd dogleg was removed.
14. Potential 10 minute frequent service from Frankston to Monash University. Current access between Frankston Station and Monash University is difficult. The distance is slightly beyond walking distance for most people. The Stony Point train is only every 90 to 120 minutes approximately. There are multiple bus routes but these are also each infrequent and in some cases they reverse direction depending on the time of day. Combined with the lack of maps and signage at Frankston station overall network legibility is poor for people wishing to make this short and simple trip.
Implementing Point 6 above, ie a 20 minute frequency formed by upgrading Routes 782 and 783, could help. However Frankston has trains every 10 minutes and a 20 minute service is not turn-up-and-go. Several possibilities exist if a 10 minute service is desired. These include:
a. 782/783 short trips (possibly only a single bus) slotted between a 20 minute service to provide a combined 10 minute service.
b. A new university shuttle bus route stopping only at Frankston Station and Monash University operating every 10 minutes.
c. A new clockwise route stopping at Frankston Station, Monash University and the hospitals before returning to Frankston. Also operating every 10 minutes. Travel time to the hospitals may be excessive but the clockwise route means no crossing of the road is needed for either the university or the hospitals.
d. Potentially diverting Langwarrin/Cranbourne routes (789/790/791) to serve Monash University. Longer travel time and less network legibility are risks.
The above have their pros and cons. Dedicated shuttles are more expensive and may sap resources from other needed improvements. On the other hand, like has happened with university shuttles that run over other routes (eg 301, 601) they have been successful provided a good frequency is run.
15. Frankston line train frequency upgrade. We are a 24 hour society. Living and working patterns are increasingly no longer confined to Monday - Friday 9 - 5. While the Frankston line enjoys a daytime 10 minute frequency on weekdays and after about 10 or 11am on weekends, evening frequencies drop to 30 minutes. Sunday morning service is even more limited, with hourly 'night network' service still running at times when many people are up and travelling. Frankston can only reach its full potential as a centre if it is easily accessible from the rest of Melbourne at all times. A key starting point is to upgrade train services to every 20 minutes or better during the evening and more of Sunday morning.
16. 778 rerouted to start at Seaford and extend to Carrum Downs Shopping Centre (and preferably Cranbourne). Carrum Downs is a major residential and employment area. Large parts have only limited connections to surrounding train lines.
17. Longer operating hours on Route 791. Route 791 is a major connection into Frankston. In conjunction with Route 789 and 790 a 10 minute weekday service is offered. However as these are 'minimum standards' routes service closes down at approximately 9pm.
18. Upgraded weekend service on Route 901 orbital and Sunday evening service. Another important corridor from Frankston is to the north east via Frankston North and Carrum Downs to Dandenong and beyond. This is served by the popular 901 SmartBus orbital. This runs every 15 minutes on weekdays but service drops to 30 minutes on weekends, ie little better than a local route in many parts of Melbourne. The 9pm Sunday evening finish is also similar to local routes. An upgrade to every 20 minutes on weekends with additional Sunday evening trips is suggested.
The 18 points above are my picks for infrastructure and service improvements for public transport in the Frankston area. Could any be added or are some unnecessary? Please let me know in the comments below.
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This item was written by Peter Parker http://www.melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
This article first appeared on melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
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