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
The reformed bus route 512 between Strathmore and Coburg East started running on Monday. The mid-route Coonans Hill deviation, which made some trips longer, was removed. Removing it simplified operations by running all trips the same way. Also, due to the fewer kilometres run it was possible to provide a more consistently frequent service that harmonised with trains. For example the new timetable features a 20 min weekday and a 40 min Saturday morning service, as opposed to the uneven intervals before. This was basically a zero cost initiative with unchanged running expenses or annual kilometres. Hence it remains a 5.5 day per week route with no evening or Sunday service. However it was able to get an extra hour added to its Saturday morning service, possibly to offset the reduced route kilometres. Still the straightening was worth doing. More on it in my write-up on the February 28 2021 bus timetable changes here. What if there was renewed interest in bus reform, but the dollars to add extra service kilometres was not available? Are there other routes like the 512 that could be simplified? The good (or bad) news is that there are plenty. Here's my dozen top picks, with the easiest listed first. 1. Removing the 506 Smith St kink in Brunswick WestProblem: This is like the 512 in that there is an unnecessary kink that slows travel for through passengers with no gain in network coverage. Solution now: Straightening the route so it remains on Dawson St would remove four turns and speed Moonee Ponds - Brunswick travel. The network would then be simpler and there may be an easier tram/bus connection. Cutting the kink would reduce weekly service kilometres run and reduce the payment to the bus company. If this is a problem the route's archaic reduced summer timetable (now unusual for buses in Melbourne) could be scrapped. And/or an extra evening or Saturday trip added at the end of the day to keep numbers even. Later: Other fixes include longer hours and 7 day service. Both are justified as the 506 is a well-used route through a dense area connecting numerous trains and trams. But if this can't be done right away then straightening should proceed as a stand-alone project.
2. Splitting the 566 at GreensboroughProblem: This is a very silly route from Lalor to Northland via Greensborough. It's like a bent and twisted hairpin that double-backs over itself in multiple directions. Confusingly buses that go in opposite directions leave from the same stop in some places. No one would ride it end-to-end so it doesn't need to be presented that way. More here. Solution now: Retain the existing timetable and rostering. Renumber the Lalor - Greensborough portion as 565. Buses would continue to run as now but would change number at Greensborough. Later: Reroute Lalor end to serve Epping Plaza and Epping Station instead of Lalor for a more useful terminus. Review patronage along the route and upgrade the 565 Epping - Greensborough portion (in particular) from every 23-24 to every 20 minutes to harmonise with trains (every 20 minutes) and provide a clockface timetable. But the split route number thing should be done under the existing timetable even if resources are unavailable for the boosted frequency. 3. Splitting the 736 at Glen WaverleyProblem: A confusing U-shaped bus route that finishes at Mitcham, only a couple of kilometres from where it starts at Blackburn, but takes an hour to get there because it goes the long way via Glen Waverley. No one would ride the route end to end but the destination on the front of the bus regularly confuses passengers. And because of the destination display, there would be residents unaware that they can get buses to Glen Waverley from their neighbourhood. More here. Solution now: Retain the existing timetable and rostering. Renumber the Glen Waverley - Mitcham portion as 739 (a vacant number). The (tiny) number of passengers wishing to stay on the bus through Glen Waverley could still do so. Later: The eastern suburbs needs a comprehensive bus network review (including a dedicated Canterbury Rd bus) to simplify services but for now this would be a step forward. 4. Splitting the 735 at Burwood One Shopping CentreProblem: Same as the 736. A confusing U-shaped bus route that finishes at Nunawading, only a few stations along the line from where it starts at Box Hill, but takes nearly an hour to get there because it goes the long way via Burwood. No one would ride it end to end but the destination on the front of the bus regularly confuses passengers. Solution now: Retain the existing timetable and rostering. Renumber the Box Hill - Burwood portion as 731 (a vacant number). The (tiny) number of passengers wishing to stay on the bus through Burwood could still do so. Later: The eastern suburbs needs a comprehensive bus network review (including a dedicated Canterbury Rd bus) to simplify services but for now this would be a step forward. 5. Removing Reservoir's 558 midday reversal Problem: Two out of four City Loop trains aren't the only parts of Melbourne public transport that reverse at midday. So does the 558 bus north-west of Reservoir. The reversal means that you need to wait for the bus on different sides of the road at different times of the day. And Saturday is different again. These and other Route 558 mysteries are revealed here. Solution now: Run all trips the same direction so there is no reversal. Coverage would remain the same as now and there would be no increase in service kilometres and thus operating costs. If the government can sort out Caulfield group trains so they run consistently one way then fixing the 558 should be a walk in the park. Later: The 558 exemplifies everything that's wrong about Melbourne's bus network. The local network needs to be torn up and a fresh start made. But in the meantime running all 558 trips the same way would make catching local buses a little bit easier. 6. Removing Nunawading's 273 kink in Blackburn NorthProblem: Another duplicative four turn dog-leg, like the 506 but bigger. This time it's in Blackburn North/Nunawading. Its presence makes getting to Nunawading Station from Donvale about 2km longer than it should be. Solution now: Straighten so that the 273 remains on Springvale Rd with four fewer turns and about six minutes less travel time. Because of the presence of routes 270 and 271 on Springfield and Junction roads no stop would lose bus coverage as a result of this change. Later: If compensation is still considered necessary for Junction Rd, a Sunday service could be added to Route 271. As this is a quiet route one way to do this for low (but not zero) cost could be to reduce Saturday service from every 30 to every 60 minutes with the cut trips being transferred to Sunday. That would mean an unchanged number of trips per week but expand 7 day coverage to an area currently without it. Even longer term it's worth a bigger review of buses in the Blackburn North, Nunawading and Donvale areas to simplify the network and further reduce duplication. 7. Split Ringwood's 380 to make it simplerProblem: If you stay too long on this bus you might end up where you started. And it's not immediately obvious which side of the road you should wait on if you wish to go the most direct way to Ringwood or Croydon. This is all because this bus is a confusing loop route. More here. Solution now: Passengers say they want simpler and more direct buses. Getting rid of loops and having straight linear routes is how you do this. The circular 380 can be simplified by splitting into two Ringwood - Croydon routes with different numbers, just like used to happen with the 366/367 that preceded the 380. One would run north of the highway and the other south. Like with the 566 and 736 mentioned above, this can be done with the existing timetable, not miss existing stops and preserve existing through-running arrangements. Later: The route runs to unusually late on weeknights but finishes early on Sundays. Scope exists to reallocate trips from weeknights to Sundays to meet minimum service standards without significant additional costs. Scope also exists for a local network rethink involving all operators. 8. Route consistency for the 536 in Glenroy Problem: Half the trips go one way (Evell St) and the other half another way (Bourchier St). This reduces frequency and adds confusion, with each leg operating only hourly. More here. Solution now: Decide on one or the other for all trips. Or maybe a squiggle in the middle if the roads allow. Whichever provides the best coverage. There would be negligible impact on weekly service kilometres and thus operating costs. Later: The 536 is a popular route that serves a high social needs catchment between two train lines. It needs longer operating hours and a restoration of Sunday service (which was taken away in 1991). 9. Consistent Middleborough Rd service on Route 279Problem: There's several on what would otherwise be a direct and frequent route. But today we'll only discuss the Blackburn occasional deviation. This is because this, like the 512's former Coonan's Hill dog-leg, can reasonably be removed without tinkering with other routes. This occasional weekday deviation gives uneven 15-30 minute weekday gaps on a 1km section of Middleborough Rd. And it's unnecessary as there are several other routes running consistently in the area. More here. Solution now: Remove the Blackburn Station deviation so that all trips run via Middleborough Rd. This would provide a consistent 15 minute frequency rather than the lumpy gaps that currently exist. Cutting the kink would reduce weekly service kilometres run and reduce the payment to the bus company. If this is a problem an extra Saturday evening trip could solve its unusually early finish and bring service to near minimum standards. Later: 279 is an already well used route with more unrealised potential including a cheap upgrade to a SmartBus service level (or at least boosted Sunday frequency). A local network review could remove its main oddity where it has two confusing destinations from Box Hill due to the hourly Templestowe Village trips (which, if necessary, should be done with another route). 10. 833 straightened in Carrum DownsProblem: When this route got extended to Carrum Station it was done in an inefficient way. Despite being served by other routes (including a SmartBus) the extended 833 continues to backtrack via Frankston - Dandenong Rd. This backtracking adds 1.5km and three unnecessary turns. Other features of the current alignment include passenger confusion, slowed through travel and wasted resources. Solution now: Straighten 833 by removing its Frankston-Dandenong Rd turn. No coverage losses are involved. And because every trip does this deviation the route kilometre resources saved would be significant. These could be invested into improved operating hours particularly Sunday mornings where there is a late start yet high demand, especially for trips towards Frankston. Later: Carrum Downs needs a full bus network review with a view to providing simpler, more frequent and more direct east-west routes, including an additional connection to Seaford via Hall and Lathams roads and improved access to Carrum Downs jobs from Cranbourne. 11. Rethink the 503/510 Essendon swapProblem: Rather than sticking on their current westerly alignment to Essendon both routes cross over one another on Pascoe Vale Road. This likely increases travel times for what should be direct station feeder routes, particularly for the 503. Solution now: Review alignment of both routes with a view to swapping them over to make them more direct. Negligible or slightly negative change to route kilometres. Later: A good case exists for Route 503 to get Sunday service and operating hours extended to 9pm to be a more useful cross suburban route. Its passenger-hostile reduced summer timetable should be scrapped. Route 510 could potentially be extended to Heidelberg via the hospitals to provide a stronger eastern terminus. 12. 770 and 771 Frankston FixProblem: Frankston is home to many complex loopy bus routes but this pair is about the worst due to its catchment population. Both routes have strange loops in the middle of them so you never know which number to catch. More here. Solution now: Simplify both routes with two-way service on each. Buses might not run along a 100 metre section of Karingal Dr but there would be no coverage loss with both routes continuing nearby. Later: Improved operating hours and more consistent frequencies (eg 40 min interpeak each) would be desirable. Frequency offsetting would improve effective frequency for those on or between both routes. And we should consider running the 771 along North Road to terminate at Gateway Shopping Centre to reduce duplication and increase coverage. 13. Save 8 km travel by extending 925 to Cardinia Rd stationProblem: If you want to get this bus to a station you have to take it 4km east to Pakenham. Then you have to do about that again on the westbound train. This is because the 925 has a dead-end finish, about 800 metres from Cardinia Rd station. The bus came before the station. When the station got built the bus was never extended. Solution now: Extend route south-west to finish at Cardinia Rd Station. Yes, this one will require extra service kilometres but it's worth it for a fast-growing area and the passenger time saving provided. Later: Area needs a local bus review with additional resources to provide simpler and more frequent service along Princes Hwy, an extension of Route 928 to Berwick Station via Bridge Rd and other coverage improvements around Officer. But for now a 925 extension would be the lowest of the 'low hanging fruit'. ConclusionThese simplifications just scratch the surface on what can be done with Melbourne buses for no additional operational costs. None reduce coverage and all can be done independently of other routes in the area. And, like the 512, they may be deemed not significant enough to warrant a detailed consultation exercise. They would be good places to start for a minister and department desirous of ramping up bus reform. One-off capital set up costs (like adding, removing or relocating bus stop poles, amending data systems and re-installing timetables) will need to be found but are trivial in the big picture. As an example you could make a good start (and help deliver 'simple connected journeys' as per DoT's strategic plan) for about the annual pay and employment costs of just two of the department's 142 executives (ie about $500k). Once departmental experience and capability has been built up then more advanced simplifications could be attempted. If ever you want evidence of the merit of these look at previous Friday Useful Network posts or the maps for confusing routes like 432, 513, 624, 699 or 834/835 to name a few. Also there are some opportunities to free resources and boost service by cutting redundant, duplicative and poorly used routes and services, such as 673, 694, 768 or others discussed here, here and here. See other Building Melbourne's Useful Network items hereThis item was written by Peter Parker http://www.melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
This article first appeared on melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
About this website
Railpage version 3.10.0.0037
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all the rest is © 2003-2021 Interactive Omnimedia Pty Ltd.
You can syndicate our news using one of the RSS feeds.