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
While trains and trams are almost entirely radial, many buses in Melbourne are circumferential. This makes for a complete network with an ability to get to many places with just one change. One of the most important routes for this purpose is the 402. Starting at the major interchange of Footscray and ending in East Melbourne it intersects four Metro train lines (Werribee, Sunbury, Craigieburn, Upfield) and about half of our tram routes in a west-east trajectory across the CBD’s fringe inner north. Major destinations include the health and university precinct at Parkville and more hospitals at East Melbourne. The 402 is the nearest we have to an inner orbital bus. And not surprisingly it’s popular for diverse trips throughout the week. The route map from the PTV website is below:
It’s only when you see the network map do you get a true idea of what the 402 connects to. Having said that some effort is needed to see it (it’s one of the thin green lines). This is because Department of Transport mapping policy is to give equally (low) prominence to all bus routes, regardless of whether they run every 10 minutes or just once an hour. In contrast, trains, which are only half as frequent as the 402 is on weekdays, are more boldly shown.
The 402 mostly has unique coverage (for an east-west route). The main overlapping route between Footscray and Parkville is the 403 express University Shuttle. The latter is not very well used but allows passengers from V/Line trains to make a one-change journey to Melbourne University (as V/Line trains no longer stop at North Melbourne). Timetable
Here is where the 402 is really special. It is one of just two (2) seven day bus routes in the whole of Melbourne that runs every 10 minutes off-peak. It got that frequency about five years ago when its sometimes slack layover times were tightened to permit more even and frequent departures. We are increasingly lagging Sydney which is rapidly adding 10 minute routes with its substantial program of bus network reform.
402’s 10 minute frequency applies between about 6am and 7pm on weekdays. Service at most other times, including weeknights, Saturday (day) and Sunday (day) is every 20 minutes. Weekend early morning and evening frequencies is typically every 20 minutes. The service starts quite early in the morning on all day of the week but service shuts down shortly after 9pm on all nights of the week. Hence while the 402’s frequency is generally better than a SmartBus its operating hours are more like a local route.
The 402 hasn't been completely without an upgrade in recent years. It, like many other bus routes in older parts of the inner west (eg 406, 408, 410 & 472), once had a relatively good Monday - Saturday service but a low (eg every 40 min) Sunday frequency. However a few years ago it got a Sunday upgrade to every 20 minutes to match Saturday. Trains and trams all got upgrades along these lines in 1999 but these were only sometimes extended to buses years later.
402 is an above average patronage performer for buses in Melbourne. In late 2018 it had 29 boardings per service hour on weekdays and 33 on Saturday. Sunday service was less at 19, but this might have been because the upgrade was relatively new then and people hadn't got used to it being an improved and more useful service. Average weekday patronage productivity for Melbourne buses is a bit over 20 passenger boardings per service hour.
Dates back to 1946/1947. More at BCSV here.
A new eastern terminus?
While the 402’s western terminus is strong, its eastern terminus is not. Adding length would likely require more buses. Any extension would thus need to justify itself in terms of increased patronage. Possible candidates include an extension to Jolimont or even Richmond Station.
Even more ambitious was a 2014 proposal by Greens MP Ellen Sandell to extend to the 402 east to North Richmond Station and Abbotsford Convent. This would have some connectivity gains but add significant route kilometres including overlapping the Victoria Pde tram. Also proposed was an extension of operating hours to midnight which would make the 402 better than a SmartBus and similar to Punt Road's Route 246, Melbourne's only other full-time bus that runs every 10 minutes on weekdays.
With the local exception of Tim Read MP and the 505 bus, the Victorian Greens have switched their public policy emphasis from advocating better public transport (particularly bus) to promoting electric car use as the lesser EVil in transport. However they still rely on their 402 advocacy (from 7 years ago) when challenged on this as evidence that they still support better buses.
The Metro Tunnel will provide a much faster connection between Footscray and Parkville than the 402 currently provides. However the 402 services many intermediate stops. It will thus continue to have a role after tunnel services commence in 2025. Not unrelated to the 402 is connectivity between Parkville and the Clifton Hill group of rail lines. Currently travel via train is indirect because trains run via Flinders Street and Southern Cross. The 546 bus exists but is only about every half-hour and has some inconsistencies. Infrastructure Victoria is advocating a bus shuttle from Parkville to Victoria Park as a top priority. This may be more important than an eastern extension of the 402. Anyway what do you think? Are longer hours 402's top priority? Does it need an extension, and if so, where. Please put your thoughts in the comments below. See other Timetable Tuesday 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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