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
Cross-suburban bus routes between clusters of major attractions like universities, hospitals and stations normally do well. They tend to attract high all day patronage for a diverse range of trips. Those in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs have been upgraded to SmartBus or at least operate to minimum service standards. And they are often fairly direct along main roads. Route 551 serves similar destinations but its routing and timetable make it more like a local route. Nevertheless it has much potential to be so much more. Roles include it being a connection to La Trobe University and a rail feeder service to Heidelberg (which may be quicker to parts of the CBD than the 251 which provides a one-seat ride). The electoral districts it serves are Ivanhoe (Anthony Carbines MP) and Bundoora (Colin Brooks MP). Both are held by Labor. Its map from the PTV site is below. The 551 is roughly a north-south route from La Trobe University Bundoora to Heidelberg Station (which is near some major hospitals). Heidelberg isn't the nearest station to La Trobe but has a substantial retail strip nearby and is served by the 903 orbital SmartBus. The most direct way for passengers from the Doncaster/Manningham area to get to La Trobe involves taking the 903 and changing to the 551 at Heidelberg.
The network map below shows the 551 in relation to other routes. The streets in the area are roughly a grid. Key east-west routes include 513, 517 and the 903 SmartBus (the latter added about 10 years ago). North-south routes are the 548 and 551. Both start at La Trobe University. There are two north-south roads that you'd think would make good direct bus corridors but neither route stays consistently on either. Thus there are kinks in both routes and sections of road without buses.
The whole are has had no significant bus network reviews for 20 or 30 years. The main thing that has happened has been the commencement of the 903 SmartBus with no significant changes to the other routes it partly overlaps.
TimetableRoute 551 operates roughly every 20 - 30 minutes in peaks and two buses per hour between the peaks. Intervals between the latter are every 25 or 35 minutes so it is not a clockface schedule. This compares with (and doesn't consistently connect to) trains every 20 minutes at Heidelberg. Services also do not connect consistently with the 903 orbital SmartBus which mostly runs on a 15 minute schedule.Service finishes just after 7pm. There is no Saturday and Sunday service as the route missed out on 'minimum standards' upgrades about 15 years ago. However, as you will see later, the 551 once had trips on all seven days. PatronageRoute 551 enjoys above average patronage productivity on weekdays with 31 passenger boardings per hour (late 2018). The average for Melbourne buses is a little over 20 boardings per hour. This is surprisingly good given it has little unique coverage. It's the major trip generators, particularly La Trobe University, that help here. HistoryRoute 551 has been going for at least 35 years. You can see it on the 1992 public transport network map with a similar route alignment to today. The first timetable on Krustylink is one for 1986. This features a 6.3 day per week service approximately. The .3 refers to the few hours it ran on Sunday afternoon, a trait it shared with other northern suburbs routes in the 1980s. Weekday service then was every 20 minutes peak and 30 minutes interpeak with no harmonisation with trains. The Saturday service was every 40 to 50 minutes. Route 551's timetable suffered at least two rounds of cuts in the early 1990s. In 1991 its Sunday service was deleted with weekday peak service reduced to approximately every 30 minutes. Then in 1993 there was a further cut with Saturday timetable deleted. This reduced service remains to this day but peak service subsequently improved to 15 - 20 min (possibly about 15 years ago). PotentialRoute 551 has above average patronage but aspects of it are preventing it reaching its full potential. It may be that travel needs would be better served if the Heidelberg to La Trobe section became part of a much more frequent seven day route, such as an extended 903 SmartBus from the Manningham area. This would remove the need for large number of passengers to make a forced transfer at Heidelberg. It could also foreshadow the proposed Suburban Rail Loop in the area, establishing travel patterns early. Other areas could potentially be served by an amalgamated Route 550 and 551 to form an east-west Northland - Heidelberg route. Some bus concepts (not all the same) for the Heidelberg area are discussed in: - Useful Network Part 15 - Useful Network Part 28- Useful Network Part 52 (Networking the North)- Useful Network Part 54 (SRL SmartBus) If you have other thoughts or ideas for the 551 please leave them in the comments below. Timetable Tuesday indexThis 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.