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 last time anything significant happened to Route 740 was when Henry Bolte was premier. For all the years since the 740 has remained static while surrounding routes were added, deleted, altered or lengthened. We're now up to our tenth subsequent premier with no substantial change to the route.
Melbourne is the opposite of Adelaide or Canberra; their bus routes have changed and renumbered frequently while any alteration to ours requires an extraordinary effort. Stability is good in that you can make a long term decision like buying a house near a bus with the assurance that a service will remain. However it can regress to a useless inertia if an existing route ceases to meet community needs and is not changed. This is a common issue here. A happy medium is a continuous but thorough review process most like what happens in Perth.
You only know this in retrospect, but the golden decade for buses in Melbourne was about 2006 to 2016. It started with major upgrades to operating days and hours, had big SmartBus roll-outs in 2010 and ended with reformed networks in some areas. This golden period was preceded by more than a decade of stupor after the massive 1990-91 cuts. We're currently in another lethargic period. More on this next week.
So what is the 740? It runs from Mitcham Station to Vermont South where it terminates at a small group of shops (pictured above). It's hard to see from the map below but it's one of Melbourne's shortest bus routes, being just 3km long.
Route 740 fills a coverage gap between Mitcham Rd and Heatherdale Rd. These are about 1.5km apart. Thus, if you want buses to be within 400m of most homes, there needs to be a bus there. The map below shows where it is relative to other routes.
Route 740 is a weekday peak-only service. This limits its usefulness to two categories of passengers; peak commuters catching the train at Mitcham Station and, in the morning, children going to Vermont Secondary College (which its only morning southbound service extends to). You can see from the timetable below that it fully utilises one bus for just over two hours in the pm commuter peak.
Even though the 740 provides residential area coverage that seniors and shoppers would likely value, there are no midday trips that would be most useful. If one was to make a shopping trip from Vermont East to Mitcham one would need to board the 4:30pm service to arrive at 4:47pm. If you were quick then the 5:27pm trip would get you home, otherwise it's the 6:08pm trip which is the last for the day. Thus your shopping errand can be no longer than 80 minutes unless you plan to spend the whole day at Mitcham.
As for commuters, short routes and low frequency are a bad combination for buses. Unless you're lucky with the timing of its departures from Mitcham Station there's about an even chance that you'll reach your destination before the bus does. This means that, except for one group of passengers, the 740 isn't often very useful as you'll see later when we discuss patronage.
Route 740 is in the marginal seat of Ringwood held by Dustin Halse MP for the Labor Party.
Other routes around Mitcham have been lengthened as bus operators merged. A spectacular example is the previously mentioned 742 which has steadily grown from being barely 2km long to over 20 times that in fifty years. However the 740 remains pretty much unchanged since at least 1971. See these network maps on the BCSV website to compare. 740 can trace its history back to 1957 as part of another route.
The 740 timetable has the same number of trips it did in 1991. The main change since then has been the spread of trips over a wider span in the afternoon. This greater spacing has meant a drop in pm frequency from about every 30 to about every 40 minutes.
The 740's stability perfectly exemplifies the static nature of bus routes and timetables over 30 to 50 years in many parts of Melbourne. Rather than being a routine process based on patronage data and assessed needs, the Department of Transport reviews only a small number of routes per year. An even smaller minority of routes ever have review implemented.
Route 740 is a real outlier. While you expect buses on school days to be busier than those on school holidays, the difference is normally quite small - say 10 or 20 %. Route 740 is a major exception. Its boardings per service hour are very high on school days (45) and very low (11) on non-school days. That 11 would comprise of the few who find the 740 will get them home faster than they can walk from the station. This limits its usefulness for commuters (who are normally more willing to walk longer distances). Meanwhile seniors and shoppers, who would more appreciate a bus on local streets nearer home, find the peak-only 740 runs at times inconvenient for them.
What would you do with the 740 and its timetable? While it obviously is useful for schoolchildren on one at least one trip, what about the other trips? Would the 740 be more useful if it ran as an interpeak shopper service to provide coverage, with its pm peak bus freed to upgrade frequencies on another route?
What about bigger changes to the network? Could 738 and 736 be swapped to provide some minor time savings? Does Mitcham Rd need two routes or can one be rerouted to replace the 740 and provide a full time service? Comments are appreciated and can be left below.
You might enjoy these well-regarded books on transport topics
Steven Higashide The Public City: Essays in honour of Paul Mees
Jarrett WalkerTransport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age Paul Mees
(Sales links: I get a small commission if you buy via the above - 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
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 © 2003-2020 Interactive Omnimedia Pty Ltd.
You can syndicate our news using one of the RSS feeds.