McGill's & Alexander Dennis
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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
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Alexander Dennis at Euro Bus Expo 2018
Occasionally we cover specialised bus networks that are not part of the regular public transport system. For instance the bingo hall buses that used to run to Thomastown or the seniors community buses that run on the Mornington Peninsula. Included in this group, but not covered here so far, are dedicated university bus services. There are several operating in Melbourne and Geelong. They may run to a fixed route or timetable or be 'on demand' services. University buses sometimes cover areas or corridors where regular public transport doesn't exist or is lacking, eg for travel between suburban campuses. In other instances they parallel regular transit routes. Greater directness, higher speed, a one-seat ride, a fare-free trip or better security might be reasons for the dedicated route running alongside public services. Today I'll run through the known university services and discuss them relative to parallel public route services. Monash University: Caulfield - Clayton intercampus shuttleThis has been running for years between the Caulfield and Clayton campuses. It's pretty much the gold standard for a campus shuttle with service every 20 minutes between 7am and 10pm on university days. Claimed travel time is 15 to 30 minutes. The Caulfield campus is physically very near Caulfield station. Walking access though is longer than it should be due to the lack of an eastern entrance at the station. 20 years ago regular public transport to Clayton consisted of boarding a Dandenong train (then every 15 minutes) and changing to a Route 630 bus at Huntingdale (every 20 minutes) that may or may not connect due to the unharmonised headways. No wonder why Since then there have been several substantial improvements to the regular network. 2006 saw the new Route 900 SmartBus from Caulfield to Rowville via Monash University Clayton. This provided a one-seat ride between the campuses every 15 minutes. But it was slow due to diversions at Chadstone and Oakleigh. Travel time could be cut by taking the train from Caulfield and getting the 900 at Huntingdale. But for many years this used a different stop to the 630 so it was hard to know where to wait for the next bus to Monash. The Huntingdale connection problem improved when the 601 express shuttle started. This provided a true turn-up-and-go service connecting Monash Clayton with its most accessible train station.
There were further improvements. Route 900 was upgraded from every 15 to every 10 minuted during peak periods. Dandenong line trains had a similar frequency upgrade interpeak, improving connectivity at Huntingdale. Another improvement was a bus interchange nearer Huntingdale station to replace the previous inconvenient stop. That's been good for 601 passengers but has slowed through travel on the 900 by introducing an extra loop.
Caulfield - Clayton campus travel by regular public transport still takes around 45 minutes (on days the 601 is running). This compares to the 15 to 30 minutes claimed by the intercampus shuttle. This remains at if not above previous service levels notwithstanding the abovementioned upgrades to regular services. This is not without trade-offs, which I'll discuss later.
What about the future? I can't help raising the Caulfield - Monash/Rowville tram. It has been an iron-clad rule that every recent state government in Victoria makes and then breaks a promise relating to public transport for Rowville. State Labor promised it in 2018 but has gone suspiciously silent since despite probing from Rod Barton MP. And it's considered enough of a dead duck for Infrastructure Victoria, in its draft 30 year infrastructure strategy, to recommend against its construction. IV aren't always listened to but it is quite possible they will be in this case.
Monash University: Clayton - Peninsula (Frankston) shuttleWe're spending billions building the Mordialloc Freeway that would facilitate this trip but existing direct public transport for this cross-country trip is and is likely to remain non-existent at least until the Suburban Rail Loop commences service. An existing intercampus voyage by regular public transport would involve travel on three or four vehicles and take the better part of two hours. Hence it's no surprise that there's an express intercampus shuttle. Travel time is stated as being a far more attractive 30 to 50 minutes. Service runs from 7am to 7pm with easy to remember hourly departures. While a lower frequency than regular transport options, the big travel time savings make it worth waiting for, even if you've just missed one.Monash University: Frankston Station - Peninsula (Frankston) - shuttleThis is to fix one of those 'last mile' problems. The Frankston Peninsula campus is actually right near a train but it's the diesel Stony Point line with an inconvenient and irregular 90 - 120 minute service. Local buses are only a little better with complex routes that haven't been properly rethought for decades. To fill the gap Monash runs its own bus to Frankston Station. Service is every 30 minutes between 8am and 6pm. Travel time is given as 5 to 15 minutes. Assuming that one bus is used and travel times are mostly 10 minutes or less the amount of dead running by regular bus route standards is quite high. Also the 30 minute headway means it's not a turn-up-and-go service which one might expect for a short trip to a train every 10 minutes. Victoria University: Footscray shuttle busFootscray is seen as a suburb of sketchy dark crime-ridden streets along which students walk and wait for public transport at their peril. Accounts from students back this up. One response by universities has been to run campus buses as 'security shuttles' to the nearest station. Unlike with regular public transport, shuttle users have the assurance of an on-board security guard (including apparently during the day). Like the Monash Frankston Peninsula campus, the VU Footscray Park campus has a 'last mile' issue, though nearby public transport is more frequent than at Frankston. Nevertheless the regular routes that are nearest the campus still have shorter hours than those further away (eg the 82 trams and trains at Footscray). I discussed ways to run premium quality high frequency routes nearer the VU campus here (for 406) and here (for 220). We don't yet have that but there is the shuttle. This runs from 6:30am to 10:30pm. There isn't a timetable so we don't know its frequency or arrival times (which could be an issue for those wishing to optimise connections to trains at Footscray). However there is a live tracker which can be viewed here. This may help users time their walk to minimise waiting at the VU end. Victoria University: St Albans shuttle busThis is another 'last mile' problem though the 500 - 600m distance to St Albans station would mean that it's quicker to walk, especially in the 'from station' direction. 423, the regular route bus passes near but not into the campus. It runs every 40 minutes and its geometry isn't particularly helpful for fast campus access due to the need to serve Furlong Rd and Ginifer Station. Hence the shuttle. Unlike other campus' routes, it runs to the campus in the morning and from the campus in the afternoon and night. Morning trips depart St Albans station every 30 minutes between about 7:30 and 11:30am. This does not harmonise with off-peak trains (every 20 min). Travel time is 10 minutes for the first campus stop and 20 minutes for the last stop (named fitness centre). I'm guessing that just about everyone who can walk would walk given the relatively short distance to the campus and a fairly high chance of beating the bus. A more intensive service runs from the campus in the afternoon. Starting at 5pm, services run every 15 minutes until 10:45pm. This frequency is at least twice as good as any regular evening public transport in the area including the train (every 30 minutes). Travel time is also less, being 10 rather than 20 minutes. Deakin University Geelong intercampus bus The website here is confusing. The intent of the service appears to be to link two campuses and at least one car park. The map shows three routes: green, blue and a lighter blue. Bus positions are shown. Intervals between buses appears to be 25, 30 or 35 minutes.
Effect on the regular public transport networkIt varies. Regular public transport works best when it groups diverse passenger types and purposes in the one well used vehicle. The trade-off is that people may have to walk to it but in return they get something that runs frequently all day and preferably runs in its own lanes for faster travel time. University students are some of the best customers of the regular public transport network. 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
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