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
Sometimes you can pinpoint a single date when an area's bus network goes from being good to bad. For Black Rock and Beaumaris that date was August 5, 2002. On that date the simple and frequent Route 600 (previously known as the 901) was split into three complex and infrequent routes: the 600, 922 and 923. This was a result of a network reshuffle that also affected routes 822 and 823. It was uncharacteristic for the time as Melbourne buses were just awakening from a long stupor and getting modest service improvements. For example the first pilot SmartBuses and new outer suburban Sunday services started on that date. HistoryBeaumaris has some interesting transport history, as you can see below, with the Victorian Railways once running trams and later a replacement buses (which continues today in extended form).
The Sandringham - Beaumaris tram, operated by the Victorian Railways, was poorly used and short-lived. Especially its Black Rock - Beaumaris section. And with 37 trips per day it was never that frequent anyway. Tram history here.
So it got replaced by bus route 901, also run by VR. Bus history here. These replacement buses were coordinated with trains at Sandringham. They were popular with more than one bus sometimes needed to meet each train. Route 901 was later extended to Southland Shopping Centre when that opened. It got taken over by the Metropolitan Transport Authority (The Met) when the Victorian Railways was broken up in the 1980s.
The 901 became part of the extended 600 from St Kilda in 1993. 1993's 600 timetable shows a basic half-hourly service on weekdays. However trips appear to have been added in the 1990s, with a 15 minute service operating by later that decade. That 15 minute service neatly matches the train at Sandringham (also every 15 minutes). Further reorganisation saw 600 became part of the privatised Melbourne Bus Link in the '90s and Transdev more recently. The 600 retained its long operating hours (a tram/ex government legacy) but had its frequency halved when the 822 and 823 were shortened and parts replaced by new routes 922 and 923. The 922 and 923 are about 80% the same as the 600 with some deviations where the old versions of the 822 and 823 went.
The split up 600/922/923 routes have been with us for nearly 20 years but cannot be regarded as successes. They are complex. To know when the next bus is at a stop on the large overlap section you need to look at three separate lists of times at the stop as true combined timetables are not provided. Hence the high combined frequency is not communicated. Even the PTV website gets it wrong with trips missed. It's not a minor glitch either, with the omission lingering for over a year.
More about how we got to the 600/922/923 mess is on my Timetable Tuesday write-up here.
The area's local member is Brad Rowswell (Liberal) who represents the seat of Sandringham.
c2008 Booz & Co Bayside/Kingston/Booroondara review
In 2006 the Department of Transport commissioned consultants to do sixteen bus network reviews covering all of Melbourne's local government areas. The Bayside/Kingston/Boorondara report discussed Beaumaris area buses. It recommended simplified routes, including operating the 600 between Sandringham and Southland only and removing the 825 between Mentone and Southland due to duplication with the 708. The proposals had merit but none got implemented. But you should remember them as we'll return to them later.
2015's attempt at reform
People within the Department of Transport knew that the area needed a reformed network. As did Transdev, one of the two companies running local buses. They proposed a major simplification in their 2015 Greenfields network.
Residents and council immediately opposed the change. While it simplified services it did so by cutting routes and not offering sweeteners in return. These could have included higher frequencies on main routes or keeping service at more stops to retain coverage. Below is a local paper report at the time (click here for a longer version).
The review could only ever be half-hearted as non-Transdev routes in the area were not included. That's significant if you want cost-effective network reform, as you'll see later. In the end it didn't matter; the whole 2015 Transdev greenfields network was aborted for reasons explained here. Existing Useful NetworkI define the Useful Network as the network of routes that operate every 20 minutes or better, peak and interpeak on weekdays. They also need to have 7 day service. Qualifying services in the Beaumaris area include the 825 between Moorabbin and Mentone and the overlapping portion of the 600 / 922 / 923 from Sandringham until just before the Concourse shopping centre. These routes do not qualify east of there because they fan out to operate a less frequent service. A revised Useful NetworkBlack Rock and Beaumaris are not high population growth areas. Their demographics are skewed towards older richer people who use buses less than younger poorer people. Hence buses are quieter than average for Melbourne. However there is still a need for adequate network coverage. Opportunities exist for improved buses to relieve parking pressure at stations at Sandringham and across to the Frankston line. Also Mentone has a large number of schools likely to attract students living in the Black Rock/Beaumaris area. What this means is that local bus revisions are justified but need to be very cost-effective. Places like Springvale, Tarneit and Craigieburn are crying out for new buses. As soon as you put a new bus on, even if it's only every 40 minutes, people crowd it. Whereas buses in the likes of Brighton can run frequently into the small hours yet get little use. Black Rock and Beaumaris are more like Brighton than Braybrook. Analysis and efficient planning is key. In particular you would study the usage of existing routes. If it's low you could divert some resources into simplifying the network or improving frequencies of stronger routes. There are four routes in play. These are the long-established 825 between Moorabbin and Southland and the mostly identical and often overlapping 600, 922 and 923. Of the latter three the 600 is dominant, with the longest operating hours. However the 825 has the highest frequency on weekdays with a 20 minute service provided. Below are 2018 boarding statistics for the four routes concerned. They are average to slightly below average compared to other bus routes in Melbourne. And higher density or higher need areas might record 30 to 40 boardings per hour on their bus routes. There are a few interesting things about these numbers. First of all Route 825 is highly dependent on school students. You can see that with the large fall off in usage on school holidays. 12 boardings per hour is low for a route that operates every 20 minutes all day. Of note is that Infrastructure Victoria regard 20 boardings per hour as being where a bus route ceases to be viable. Development patterns have not been kind to the 825. These include (a) the decline of the Moorabbin town centre including its abolition as a municipality, (b) the construction of a Woolworths supermarket at Highett and (c) the construction of a station at Southland. These will have benefited other routes relative to the 825. Yet the 825 retains the same weekday frequency it had in 1991. 600/922/923's numbers should be regarded with caution. This is because (a) these are long routes with quieter and busier sections, (b) their erratic timetables including short workings and (c) the significant coverage overlaps with trains and other buses in the portion north of Sandringham. While old data, the Booz & Co bus review found that the 600/922/923 were busier between Sandringham and Southland (where there is unique coverage) than on the St Kilda - Sandringham section (where coverage is largely duplicative). The above leads to four tentative conclusions.* At least at non-school times Route 825 is over-serviced for the patronage it gets. Its relevance has declined due to the opening of Southland Station and continued overlaps with other routes (eg 708, 600/922/923). The Mentone - Southland portion might be redundant, although it's only a few minutes of bus run time. * There is a continuing need for bus access to schools, including in the Mentone area. * Route 600/922/923 should be simplified back into a single route operating more frequently along the 600 alignment. 20 minutes is possibly the ideal frequency given patronage levels and would make a revised network cheaper to run than what is there now. However it does not evenly meet trains every 15 minutes at Sandringham. While on the generous side a 15 minute frequency would meet trains. And it matches what currently runs with the 600/922/923 corridor so can be done without increasing costs. * Coverage at all stops be retained given the hostile reaction to the proposed 2015 network. The map below shows what a revised network might look like. It's greatly simplified. The centrepiece is the restored high frequency Route 600 running every 15 minutes on weekdays and 20 minutes on weekends. This would run from Sandringham to Southland like the old 901 did. Other arrangements discussed in Useful Network Part 8, would apply north of Sandringham.
A new route 608 could replace Route 922 and 923 in the Beaumaris area. It could run from Southland to Mentone, providing a new connection to several schools. As the route is about 10km long it may be possible for a single bus to provide an hourly service, augmented as required during school times.
Some resources for this could come from changes to the under used Route 825. Currently it uses four buses to run its 20 minute service. Reducing its frequency to 30 minutes would reduce that requirement to 3 buses, providing the one bus needed for the 608. A decision would need to be made whether the 825 retains its 20 minute peak service or not, particularly during school peaks. The need for the 825 to operate to Southland could be reviewed given that the Mentone - Southland connection now has trains every 10 minutes and Route 708 overlaps the 825 between Mentone and Southland.
Implementation and costs
600/922/923 is run by Transdev as part of the Metropolitan Bus Franchise. 825 is run by Ventura.
As the 600 frequency doubling just involves folding the 922 and 923 into more 600 trips it should involve the same service kilometres as now for the portion south of Sandringham. Possibly less if you rationalise Transdev services north of Sandringham as discussed previously.
Routes 824 and 825 run through to one another at Moorabbin. This is possible as both operate at the same 20 minute frequency. 824 deserves its current frequency whereas 825 does not. Dropping Route 825 to every 30 minutes would likely break this arrangement. If through travel is significant at certain times (eg to Holmesglen TAFE on South Rd) it may be possible to retain it for certain high demand trips. On the other hand a Route 825 at every 30 minutes may allow other through-running opportunities, for instance to Chadstone with the 627.
One low cost option if obtaining peak buses is an issue is to retain the 825 at every 20 minutes in the peak and run the 608 only during off-peak times as a shopper style service. On the other hand the 608's connectivity to Mentone might be regarded as a plus during school and commute times since it will provide a new direct service from areas distant from the 825. The merits of this should be considered in conjunction with the Beaumaris - Mentone school bus network Ventura currently runs.
All up the costs of this network revision are likely to be very low while delivering overall simpler services that better reflects demand patterns. ConclusionWhat do you think of this network? Would it be an improvement? If you have any comments or ideas please leave them below.
PS: An index to all Useful Networks is here.Melbourne on Transit bookshopFavourably reviewed books about transport and cities. Purchases via these links support this blog and its independent reporting (at no extra cost to you).
This item was written by Peter Parker http://www.melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
This article first appeared on melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
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