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
Last Friday I reviewed Victoria's Bus Plan. This was our first significant bus planning document for 15 years. It signals that bus network reform is back on the state government's agenda after a while in the wilderness. Most of the next two years will be spent planning reform, including preparing a detailed Bus Reform Implementation Plan. However there would still be some lesser reforms beforehand. For example a revised Night Bus network and timetable changes on 19 bus routes in September 2021. The 13 June release said that the latter would include "extra weekend services, earlier starts and later finishes". We don't know a lot about the routes that will get timetable revisions. 223 and 293, both operated by Transdev, have been mentioned in the media. But others have not been. Presumably more will be known when closer to the start date. Then after that there will be some other changes coming to the bus network including those funded in previous state budgets. Which brings us to today's hypothetical exercise. That is to come up with small upgrades for 19 bus routes with the number chosen because of what is happening in September. It is not an attempt to predict what will happen then. However it is still worth going through constraint-bound exercises like this due to the focus they can give, including critically assessing what is more or less important. And if things do happen it's interesting to see what was favoured and what wasn't to try to discern patterns. Deciding cheap upgrade prioritiesIf you could upgrade timetables on 19 of Melbourne's 350-odd bus routes which would you choose? Because some suburbs have a 30 year backlog in bus network reform and coordination, one could come up with hundreds of ideas, many with merit. The answers one comes up with may depend on what you most value, for instance benefiting the most people, better servicing an area with high social needs or taking an opportunity where a reform is so cheap you'd be silly not to do it. Expressed in another way these three reform groups are: A. High patronage and high patronage potential. Upgrades to these top performing routes would benefit thousands of passengers across much of the metropolitan area including to its biggest suburban destinations. B. Social equity connections. Benefits on these shorter routes are more localised and reverse past service cuts or where MOTC stopped short. But some are also strong patronage performing routes so justify upgrade on these grounds alone. C. Cheap fixes. Routes have average or less patronage but substantial overserving in one part of the day can allow more-than-offsetting 'greater good' upgrades for tiny amounts of money (we're talking about a few tens of thousands of dollars per project). Such over-servicing may occur on the same route at another time or on a nearby route run by the same bus operator from the same depot. In a nutshell, if you wanted to benefit lots of people, you'd pick mostly A and B type reforms. But if you were keen to get bus reform moving but needed changes to be substantially self-funding then the focus would be C-type reforms. Or you could get creative and deliver some A or B type upgrades with a C type budget by working the pruning shears harder. I don't use them much today but other opportunities were discussed here, here, here and here. Hopefully the Bus Reform Implementation Plan will examine possibilities like these but execution won't then be as quick. Cheap bus fixes rarely excite many people. But they get the reform process moving and the Department of Transport in the right mindset for better things ahead. And, in a refreshing change from the billions we're used to in big infrastructure projects, $1 million annual expenditure (ie the pay of three DoT senior executives) could deliver a whole program, involving the odd trip slotted here and there, at $10 to $100k per tweak per route. I should mention that although A and B are not as cheap as C, they still rate well on a cost-effectiveness per passenger basis due to their high patronage. This is especially if (as recommended here) all upgrades involve added bus and driver hours only. That is they need no new buses to be purchased. Other criteria include simple implementation (no route changes, just timetables), upgrades that are only small to medium scale per route (one or two extra buses out with options depending on budget) and the previously mentioned willingness to reduce costs by tackling over-servicing. The latter is why the concept of having routes on positive or negative outlook for service changes (as mentioned on Friday) is so important. The upgrade list (19 routes)
1. Route 150: Williams Landing - Tarneit (A)A very productive route serving a dense growth area in the City of Wyndham. Feeds stations on the Werribee and Geelong lines. Already has close to minimum standards operating hours but catchment is distant from stations. Catchment has low car ownership and high casual workforce. Basic: Add trips to increase operating hours by approximately 3 hours per day (60 - 90 min earlier starts and 60 - 90 min later finishes 7 days per week). Better: Above but approx 5 more hours extra per day (eg midnight finishes). Best: Above plus interpeak and preferably weekend daytime service increased from every 40 to every 20 minutes with some mid-evening frequency upgrades. 2. Route 180: Werribee - Tarneit (A)Another very productive route serving a dense growth area in the City of Wyndham. Feeds stations on the Werribee and Geelong lines. Already has long operating hours on Friday and Saturday nights. Large catchment is distant from stations. Basic: The first Friday night only service each way upgraded to operate all five days. Where possible adjusting the peak timetable to provide improved evenness between trips (especially the 28 minute gap created earlier this year) and better interleaving with the new Route 182 on Tarneit Rd. Better: All Friday night services (two or three each way) operate all five days. Best: Above plus 60 min earlier weekend starts and mid-evening frequency upgrades. 3. 270: Box Hill - Mitcham (A)This is one of the busiest bus routes in Melbourne's middle-east with consistently strong 7 day usage. Assuming its present form in 2014, it is the main route through Blackburn North, feeds two major train stations and serves the large centre of Box Hill. Weekday services are about every 10-20 minutes in the peaks and 20 minutes interpeak. 270 enjoys longer than average operating hours with the last weekday bus leaving Box Hill after 11pm. However it never got 'minimum standards' upgrades and Saturday and (especially) Sunday operating hours are short, especially given its high patronage. For example the last Sunday buses leave Mitcham before 5:30pm and Box Hill before 6pm. Weekend am starts are also quite late. Basic: Commence weekend service 60 minutes earlier on both days. Extend Saturday pm service by 2 hours and Sunday pm service by 3 - 4 hours to provide for an after 9pm finish. Better: As above but upgrade Sunday daytime service to every 30 minutes. Best: As above but upgrade weekend daytime services to every 20 minutes given high usage. 4. 271: Ringwood - Box Hill via Park Orchards (C)Unlike others here the 271 is not an especially well used route. The 2014 experiment to operate a 30 minute Saturday service cannot be considered a success with below average boardings per service kilometre recorded. Also notable is the absence of Sunday service with no alternative routes in much of the area it serves. A resource reshuffle between the two days could thus permit low cost 7 day service to be provided. Weekday evening services also operate until unusually late for a neighbourhood route. Basic: Reduce Saturday service from every 30 to every 60 minutes. Use resources to operate a new Sunday service every 60 minutes. Review usage, operating hours and frequency of late weeknight service if needed to fully fund above. Better: Improvements on other routes presented here have higher priority. Best: Improvements on other routes presented here have higher priority. 5. 279: Box Hill - Doncaster Shoppingtown (A)One of Melbourne's busiest weekend routes feeding major shopping centres but only hourly on Sunday. Runs until midnight on weeknights but unusually early finish on Saturday (earlier than Sunday). Basic: Increase Sunday service from every 60 to every 30 minutes. Add one extra Saturday trip from both Doncaster and Box Hill to provide a similar evening span to Sunday. Better: Above plus extend weekend operating hours to 9pm MOTC standards including a 60-90 min earlier am start. Increase 5 - 8pm weekend service from every 60 to every 30 minutes. Best: Above plus improve service to match SmartBus standards (basically only an early weeknight frequency and Saturday evening upgrade). Not to be done until route is simplified. 6. 404: Footscray - Moonee Ponds (A, B)The fastest and most direct route between two major centres. Also serves dense housing at Kensington Banks. Currently limited hours and no Sunday or public holiday service. Basic: Add daytime Sunday service similar to Saturday timetable. Operate on public holidays as per standard pattern. Better: Above plus extend operating hours to MOTC standard (ie 9pm 7 day finish). Best: Above plus boost interpeak weekday service from 40 to 20 min. 7. 406: Footscray - Keilor East via Highpoint (A)Like many routes in the inner west this popular route has a good Monday to Saturday service (every 20 minutes) but falls off greatly on Sunday (to every 40 minutes). Straightening in a future network reform is needed but for now a service upgrade would give worthwhile benefits. Its catchment around Highpoint is rapidly densifying. Basic: Upgrade Sunday daytime service to every 20 minutes. Add one Sunday am trip to provide an earlier start. Better: Above plus boost evening frequency from 40 to 30 minutes. Extend evening finish to approximately 10-11pm. Best: Above plus broaden weekday shoulder peak services so 15 minute service runs for more of the time.
8. 408: Highpoint - St Albans via Sunshine (A, B)Similar comments to 406 but frequency drop-off is more extreme with Sunday service only hourly despite high usage and favourable demographics. The only bus going past Sunshine Hospital and serves densifying area near Highpoint makes the 408 very popular. Basic: Upgrade Sunday daytime service from every 60 to every 40 minutes. Start weekday am service approximately 30 min earlier (one extra trip each way) and start weekend am service about 60 - 90 minutes earlier. Better: Above but with 30 minute Sunday daytime service. Boost evening service from 40-60 to every 30 minutes and extend evening finish to approximately 10pm. Best: Above but widen span that 20 minute frequency applies. Extend evening service to midnight with even earlier am starts. 9 & 10. 423 & 424: St Albans - Brimbank SC (B)With about double the boardings per service kilometre of the average Melbourne bus route, the 424 is the busiest of the two. However the 423 (that it is operationally linked to) is also an above average patronage performer. Both routes serve catchments with concentrations of social disadvantage away from train services. They gained seven day service in the 2014 Brimbank network reform but finishes remain 1 - 2 hours earlier than the 9pm minimum standards finish, especially on weekends. Basic: Insert two extra evening trips each way on each night of the week to improve early weeknight frequency and extend operating hours to approximately 9pm on all days. Commence morning service approx 30 minutes earlier weekday and 60 - 90 minutes earlier weekends. Improve Saturday morning service from every 60 minutes to every 40 minutes. Better: Above plus boost Sunday service from every 60 to every 40 minutes. Further upgrade evening service from every 60 to every 30 - 40 minutes (timed to match trains) especially on weeknights until last bus. Best: Above but boost daytime frequency from 40 to 20 minutes on both routes (preferably 7 days). Further extend operating hours by adding earlier and later trips. 11. 431: Yarraville - Kingsville (C)Route 431 isn't particularly well used (especially on Saturdays) but it serves a densifying part of Kingsville with few other public transport options. It operates limited hours with weekday service ceasing at 7pm and Saturday service at 6pm. There is no Sunday service. Also serving Yarraville Station is Route 432 to Newport. This has much less usage per bus service kilometre than the 431 and the same on Saturdays. The very indirect 432 runs much longer hours and includes Sunday service. However its timetable is confusing with uneven 20 to 30 minute gaps on weekdays and a 45 minute weekend frequency which does not harmonise with trains. Hence there may be scope to trim services on the 432 to fund improvements on the 431. Because both routes serve Yarraville station there may be efficiency benefits if services were interlined. Basic: (i) Reduce Route 432's off-peak weekday service to a clockface 30 minute frequency that provides simplicity to users, evenly meshes with trains and better reflects usage. Use saved service kilometres to extend Route 431's service to finish 9pm weekdays. (ii) Adjust Route 431's Saturday service from every 30 to every 40 minutes but have similar number of trips due to increased operating hours (9pm finish). Consider interlining with Route 432 trips at Yarraville to permit an increase in the latter's frequency from 45 to 40 minutes. (iii) Commence new Sunday service, operating hourly until 9pm. Funded by interlining with Route 432 and reducing 432's service from 45 to 60 minutes to reflect low patronage. Above changes should be more than self-funding. Better: As above but commence weekday, Saturday and Sunday service on both 431 and 432 one hour earlier as current starts are late. Also operate Sunday service every 40 minutes similar to Saturday service, aim for a 40 minute evening frequency on both routes (to mesh with trains) and tidy peak timetables on both routes to optimise train connections if possible. This change should be close to self-funding. Best: Improvements on other routes presented here have higher priority. However both 431 and 432 should be part of a later network review to improve coverage and directness. 12. 468: Essendon - Highpoint (A)A short route that provides an important link from the Craigieburn line to Highpoint Shopping Centre. Currently limited hours and no Sunday service. Weeknight Monday - Thursday timetable oddity ends service before 6pm. Basic: Add daytime Sunday service. Extend Monday - Thursday weeknight service to after 7pm. Better: Above plus extend weekend finish to 7pm. Best: Above plus 'minimum standards' hours (eg 7 day 9pm finish including Friday evening trips operating Monday - Thursday). 13. 506: Moonee Ponds - Westgarth (A)High patronage potential route across Melbourne's densifying inner-north. Has 15-20 min weekday service but lacks Sunday or public holiday trips. Has early Saturday finish and confusing summer timetables. Basic: Extend Saturday service to 7pm but reduce Saturday am service from 20 to 30 min to provide consistent all day clockface timetable and help fund Sunday service. Add hourly Sunday service until 7pm. Abolish reduced service summer timetable and add public holiday service. Better: Above but with Sunday service every 30 or 40 min. Extend hours to MOTC standard (ie 9pm finish). Best: Above but with weekend daytime service upgrade to every 20 min. Some minor span increases (beyond minimum standards). 14 & 15. 529 & 533: Craigieburn - Highland Shopping Centre (A, B)529 is the busiest route here but as it's operationally linked to the 533 (and that gets above average usage) I've opted to include both. These routes serve areas distant from trains and feature a densely populated catchment with low car ownership and a high casual workforce. The 40 minute off-peak frequency is low for the route's patronage and evening frequencies (typically every 40 min) do not always harmonise with trains (typically every 30 min). Basic: Extend operating hours with starts approximately 1 hour earlier and finishes approximately 2 hours later, taking care to optimise connections with trains at Craigieburn. Better: Above but also boost off-peak weekday frequency from 40 to 20 minutes. Evening service boosted to 30 min with aim to consistently meet arriving trains. Best: Above but also boost weekend daytime frequency from 40 to 20 minutes. 16. 536: Glenroy - Gowrie (B)A popular route linking two railway lines serving a low income catchment with limited operating hours and days. Limited hours and no Sunday service. Basic: Add daytime Sunday service. Operate on public holidays as per standard pattern. Better: Above plus extend weekend finish to 7pm. Best: Above plus 'minimum standards' hours (eg 9pm finish) Simplify route and upgrade to 20 min (weekday interpeak) to harmonise with trains. 17. 733: Box Hill - Clayton/Oakleigh (A)One of Melbourne's most productive bus routes on a boardings per kilometre basis. Serves large and popular destinations including Box Hill, Mt Waverley, Monash University, Monash Medical Centre and Clayton Station. Infrequent service for its patronage especially weekday off-peaks and Sunday. Current Saturday timetable has a frequency drop off after lunch (from 30 to 40 min). A confusing reduced service timetable operates over summer. Basic: Upgrade Sunday timetable from every 60 min to every 30 minutes for portion between Box Hill and Clayton (only). Adjust Saturday timetable to provide for even 30 min service between Box Hill and Clayton (only) with a 60 minute frequency permissible between Clayton and Oakleigh. Commence weekend am service 60 - 90 min earlier both days. Better: Above plus remove confusing reduced summer timetable. Extend hours to start 30-60 min earlier on weekdays with a pm finish not before 10pm. Best: Above but with a 15 min weekday interpeak, 20 min weekend day and 30 min evening frequency. Extend operating hours to midnight and add one or two earlier am trips each day. 18. 800: Chadstone - Dandenong (A)A popular main road route that serves major destinations and interchanges including Chadstone, Oakleigh, Monash precinct/M-City, Daniel Andrews' electorate office and Dandenong. Every 20 minutes weekdays but currently only every 2 hours Saturday pm and no Sunday service. Basic: Upgrade to hourly on Saturday afternoon. Extend evening span to 8-9pm weekdays and 7pm Saturday. Better: Above plus introduce an hourly Sunday service. Extend finish to 9pm 7 days. Best: Above plus weekend daytime service upgraded to every 30 or 40 minutes. 19. 844: Dandenong - Doveton (B)Route 844 is a short 'out and back' line serving a low income catchment with limited operating hours and days. It lacks after 3pm Saturday afternoon and any Sunday service. Basic: Add extra trips to finish at 7pm Saturday. Add weeknight trips ex Dandenong around 6:40 and 8pm. Better: Above plus introduce Sunday service to 7pm. Best: Above plus 'minimum standards' hours (eg 9pm finish). ConclusionPresented is a list of upgrades for 19 bus routes in Melbourne. They vary from substantial upgrades to key routes to 'smell of oily rag' efforts involving reallocating resources within and between routes. However none involve peak buses and all can be scaled to suit available resources. Please leave comments below if you think others should be in there as well. But since it's a list of 19 please also suggest any that shouldn't be here. Index to Timetable Tuesday itemsThis item was written by Peter Parker http://www.melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
This article first appeared on melbourneontransit.blogspot.com
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