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
It tries to do a lot of things but does none very well. That could be a summary of the 857 bus between Dandenong and Chelsea. Traversing industrial, green-wedge and suburban residential in Melbourne's south-east, it's one of those bus routes that has been there for years with little reform. If you ever wanted a single bus route to explain why many Melburnians don't ride buses, the 857 presents one of our best (or worst) examples. Route descriptionThe PTV website depicts the 857 as below. The main route starts from Dandenong station, runs due south via the industrial area, then via green wedge areas, paralleling Eastlink. It then turns right, running past the sewage farm on Thompson Rd, at which point it overlaps the recently extended 833 from Frankston/Carrum Downs. After crossing the Mornington Peninsula Freeway it heads south, snaking through the residential area of Patterson Lakes. It's the only bus in the Gladesville Bvd area. After that it gets within about 200 metres of Carrum Station. However its passengers are denied an easy change. Instead they need to be patient, having to remain on the bus for a 1km dog-leg south via Whatley St and Church Rd. This gets them to about 50 metres from where they were before. Then the bus turns to feed trains at the newly rebuilt Carrum station. From Carrum the bus runs north to Chelsea via Station St. The new Karrum Karrum Bridge means it no longer needs to cross over to Nepean Hwy, saving some time (and two crossings of the railway). You can compare old and new alignments on the PTV network maps below.
This is possible because updating local area maps often requires manually editing multiple overlapping local area maps. In this instance PTV forgot to update the Greater Dandenong map when it updated the Kingston map. Hence the Greater Dandenong map still shows the old 857 alignment and Carrum station location from 2 years ago. The Kingston map is current in this regard. However the Department of Transport really can't take a trick as both maps haven't been accurate since the special 970 Night bus was deleted in favour of upgrades on the regular route 833 a month ago. They do know about this as the Frankston local area map (which also covers Carrum) did get correctly updated and there's an item on their website about it. If you think something looks wrong on a PTV map it probably is. But you might find it's correct on another map as DoT has massive problems with information consistency and version control. Anyway, back to the 857. The last leg serves residential catchment, including parts of Chelsea slightly beyond walking distance of either it or Bonbeach station. This area includes a lot of 1960s-70s era 2 bedroom villa units on streets off Fowler popular with retired folk. Also in the area are retirement homes and the Chelsea Holiday Park, popular with low income pensioners. The 857 is the only walkable public transport for these residents.
A better view of the 857 is on the network map below. Its catchment can be roughly described (starting at Dandenong) as 1/3 industrial, 1/3 empty and 1/3 residential. The dotted lines show some deviations. That near Dandenong is for a small residential pocket while another at the Patterson Lakes end starts from Chelsea Heights.
The 857 performs several functions. These can be summarised as:
* Dandenong Station to Dandenong South industrial area (though less since the overlapping 890 started)* Dandenong to Dandenong south off-peak shopper route* Train feeder in Chelsea, Carrum and Patterson Lakes areas* Local shopper connection between Chelsea and Patterson Lakes* Longer distance shopper connection from Chelsea area to Dandenong* Some school access functions
Electoral districts served include: Dandenong (Gabrielle Williams MP), Carrum (Sonya Kilkenny MP) and the southern extremity of Mordialloc (Tim Richardson MP). All are currently held by Labor but the last two were marginal 'swing seats' before the 2018 election.
The 857 is a daytime only route that runs 5 1/2 days per week. It is one of several bus routes that cling to the old Monday to Saturday morning regime that the rest of Melbourne ditched over 30 years ago and many buses abandoned over 10 years ago.
It's basic frequency is roughly hourly interpeak and on Saturdays. Early afternoon intervals for the entire route are more like 90 minutes. To give you an idea of this, the last four trips from Chelsea leave at 2:28, 3:55, 5:25 and 6:20pm. The latter means that those who finish work much after 5pm in the CBD arrive at Chelsea or Carrum too late for the bus to take them home.
A higher peak frequency between Dandenong South and Dandenong is provided with short outbound trips in the morning and inbound trips in the afternoon. Frequency is roughly every 20 or 30 minutes. The first departure from Dandenong at 5:05am reflects the early start at many industries.
A couple of off-peak trips each way deviate via Morwell Av in Dandenong South to provide a shopper connection for an otherwise isolated low income residential pocket including Albanian and Russian communities. An 8am trip leaves Chelsea Heights to end up at Chelsea via Patterson Lakes. These are the dotted lines on the map before.
Saturday service is hourly over a three to four hour span in the morning. This can enable short local shopping trips, such as between Patterson Lakes and Chelsea. Longer travel, such as a trip to Dandenong Markets, though is harder. For example the first departure from Chelsea arrives at 10:28am. When you add walk time only a short look around is possible before one must be back at the station for the last bus leaving Dandenong at 11:41am. Similar comments apply for those relying on the 857 for other Saturday trips involving a change to the train at Carrum or Chelsea, eg to Frankston.
The 857 didn't used to have public holiday service. However several years back it and other routes got an upgrade so it runs on those public holidays that a Saturday timetable operates (as per the standard pattern). The message doesn't appear to have go through to the PTV website though, which on the upcoming Cup Day holiday, is showing the 857 with most of its trips missing in one direction.
HistoryWhat we now know as the 857 can trace its history back more than 70 years with a route that ran from Dandenong to Mordialloc with an alteration to terminate at Chelsea in 1947. It took pretty much its current form in 1987, including operation via Patterson Lakes and Carrum before reaching Chelsea. Its old alignment can be viewed on these maps. The changes incorporated short 860-series Chelsea area only routes into parts of longer routes like 857 and 888/889. Part of that was undone about 10 years ago when the more direct 902 orbital SmartBus was created with unique parts of the 888/889 hived off to form the almost circular 858 from Edithvale to Aspendale Gardens via Chelsea. Short trips between Dandenong and the Dandenong South industrial area were added some years ago. However despite its residential catchment the route was not included in the 'minimum standards' upgrades introduced to many routes from 2006. The 2009 Bayside/Kingston area bus network review recommended reforming it to make it a direct Dandenong to Carrum service but this, like most review recommendations, did not proceed. PatronageIn late 2018 Route 857 attracted 22 boardings per service hour on weekdays, which is about average for buses in Melbourne. This is surprisingly good given that portions of the route overlaps others while much of its middle section traverses empty 'green wedge' areas. Saturday usage, at 9 boardings per bus service hour, is much lower, possibly due to its restricted operating hours that make return trips difficult. Interestingly, while the 857 hasn't been reformed lately, more of it has been overlapped by other routes offering higher service levels. These include the 890 in Dandenong South and the 833 in parts of Patterson Lakes. This might have undermined 857's usage on common portions. ConclusionThat's enough for the quirky 857. The route serves a lot of roles but it's complex, indirect and arguably underserviced in places. What's your thoughts on it? Are there ways its route or timetable could be improved? Would removing from Whatley St speed travel or running via Scotch Pde improve coverage? Should other surrounding routes be reformed too? And what about longer hours and Saturday afternoon and even Sunday service? Comments are invited and can be left below. Other 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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