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Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:33 pm

Fleet Lists wrote:You complain about meaningless terms - most people would have no idea what 2112ST means.

Don't worry about me, that number is implanted in my brain as STA's only true citybus. :lol:

viewtopic.php?f=42&t=44637&p=506488&hilit=scania+metrobus+2112#p506488

It would be an interesting challenge for both Wollongong drivers and users - whether the drivers are happy using both doors for exit (entrance seems to be more an issue than exit) and whether the users would succumb to the temptation of using the rear-most door to surreptitiously jump aboard to avoid the queue.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby Fleet Lists » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:45 pm

tonyp wrote:
Fleet Lists wrote:You complain about meaningless terms - most people would have no idea what 2112ST means.

Don't worry about me, that number is implanted in my brain as STA's only true citybus. :lol:


That was aimed at Swift and not you.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:41 pm

I missed posting this from last month:

http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/stor ... ight-rail/

If anything, it reflects the reason a tram isn't going to replicate exactly what 55A/C does because of topography and the other factors. However, it could go further west along the highway to Figtree and beyond as part of a distant-future plan to work the north-south corridors, particularly down to the Shellharbour area (via the coast where the rail doesn't serve).

If it simply connects the Hospital with the sea through the CBD it's duplicating part of the Gong shuttle without performing all the other functions of the shuttle.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby rogf24 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:44 pm

Is there anyway to build a tram that replicates route 55 with a tunnel or elevated? It won't hurt to have an underground or elevated stop either.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby Swift » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:50 pm

Fleet Lists wrote:
Swift wrote:Would some 2112ST clones be a dream come true?

You complain about meaningless terms - most people would have no idea what 2112ST means.

Yes FL you're right. I should have said a Scania N310UA like STA Metrobus 2112ST with a fourth door behind the rear axle, even though there is fat chance of that getting approval, even without tradesman's entry.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:02 pm

rogf24 wrote:Is there anyway to build a tram that replicates route 55 with a tunnel or elevated? It won't hurt to have an underground or elevated stop either.

That would be very difficult to engineer given some gradients and the overlay of urban development that now restricts the path you could take. There are also a couple of motorways in the path. Tunnels or viaducts would be really over the top here I'd say.

I'd say the bus industry is going to have to rise to the challenge on this one. No more lazy old habits or sleeping on the job!
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby Swift » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:03 pm

Maybe Wollongong can become a testbed for more continental Europe style practises instead of letting staid Sydney thinking determine things.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:35 pm

Swift wrote:Maybe Wollongong can become a testbed for more continental Europe style practises instead of letting staid Sydney thinking determine things.

TfNSW Wollongong is the same as TfNSW Sydney.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby Swift » Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:32 pm

tonyp wrote:TfNSW Wollongong is the same as TfNSW Sydney.

I bet if a European transport agency was put in charge, even under the constraints of ADRs , people's car batteries would be getting flat from lack of use, because so many would be attracted away by the stark contrast at how well organized public transport can be.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 21, 2016 8:04 pm

We know the European model by now but it's institutionally unachievable here - but Perth is not a bad in-between exemplar. I believe we have to work with what we've got and just chip away at the systemic and engineering obstacles until something finally gives. I've got some people thinking down here, we'll see what happens.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby rogf24 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:42 pm

I guess the only hope is driverless buses when they come on line in a few years time. That way there is no unions in the way banging on about back door safety. Wollongong will also be a great place to trial some driverless buses in NSW before they get introduced in Sydney.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Thu Sep 22, 2016 5:40 am

rogf24 wrote:I guess the only hope is driverless buses when they come on line in a few years time. That way there is no unions in the way banging on about back door safety. Wollongong will also be a great place to trial some driverless buses in NSW before they get introduced in Sydney.

I can't see buses being driverless until all other vehicles on the road are driverless. Otherwise the bus will be stuck standing still all the time while its computer politely gives way to everybody else pushing in.

I was hoping the TWU might have a more sensible attitude than RBTU. The other thread here about back doors started over the subject of private bus drivers being reluctant to open the centre door on their buses. On the 55, to the contrary, the drivers have no problem with that to let people out - as I said before, they have to or the service would descend into complete chaos. In the discussions I had, the negative response I got to the notion of letting people board through the centre door came from TfNSW and the operator!
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby Swift » Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:43 pm

tonyp wrote:We know the European model by now but it's institutionally unachievable here - but Perth is not a bad in-between exemplar.

Yet Perth people continue their love affair with the motor car. It could be the thoughtless behavior of lots of Australians on pt, over more civilised community minded Europeans.
Trouble is, there is no escape with even worse, and dangerous thoughtless behavior on the roads as well.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Thu Sep 22, 2016 3:03 pm

Swift wrote:Yet Perth people continue their love affair with the motor car. It could be the thoughtless behavior of lots of Australians on pt, over more civilised community minded Europeans.
Trouble is, there is no escape with even worse, and dangerous thoughtless behavior on the roads as well.

I was referring to operational model.

Yes Perth is still overrun with cars like other Australian cities but it's had by far the most spectacular public transport growth in Australia. Bus patronage has grown 50% since 1970, whereas in Sydney it has declined 5%.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:46 am

At Wollongong University yesterday (actually also the stunning Wollongong Botanic Gardens opposite, well worth a visit):

WollUni1.JPG
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WollUni2.JPG
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Big 4 bay bus stop, extremely busy, not only with the shuttle (both A and C route buses in these photos plus a blue UOW bus in the distance) but with the UOW buses. One substitute single-door bus in TfNSW colours on the run yesterday, that would have been struggling. The regular Gong Shuttle buses confirmed as two-leaf centre door, also one of the UOW buses. One other UOW bus I saw had single leaf centre door. I don't know whether the dedicated stop spaces have been measured for articulated buses (which would be desirable) or whether that's just pull-in space.

Still a lot of students parking right around the Botanic Gardens (and walking through them), but I understand the Shuttle has raised PT usage in Wollongong 11% so it is having an impact on car use - in the CBD as well.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:20 am

I had a couple of rides on the Shuttle yesterday which I thought was a good opportunity to see what it's like when the university year has finished and one can see the usage without students.

Jam packed would be a pretty good description, typically filled to standee level, as busy as anything I've seen in Sydney - well we already know it's busier than any route in Sydney. It's extremely busy through the city centre, so I think you can conclude that it's not simply a university bus (most of those use UoW's own bus service). The loading would be more biased towards the CBD sector during university holidays.

I wasn't prepared by bringing the timetable with me, etc, so I don't know about timekeeping, but I suspect it was a bit all over the place as there was uneven running. The reason isn't hard to see and it's definitely not traffic as, once running, it moves smoothly and quickly along the route. But every time it stops, first everybody gets off through the (not enough) two doors, while the boarders dutifully queue at the front door, as per bus industry indoctrination, and file slowly (as many as 20 people) through the front door while the stop dwell yawns out to infinity.

I was encouraged to see a couple of "jumpers" nipping in through the centre door. If this is a common practice, then the patronage statistics (counted on the ticket machine as boardees by the driver) must surely be a little understated.

The buses are inadequate for the job as I've said before. To its credit, Premier seems to be getting buses with the maximum possible low floor area (unlike their mates in Nowra), but the sharp climb up the back dead-end and its lack of headroom is a real problem when there are so many standees and such high turnover rate. It's a congested and confused scene in the middle of the bus with people barging about. People are also forced to stand in the "red" area where the centre door opens which causes some problems with door open and close. It's yet again the local industry simply unable to deliver the operational and engineering solutions for the job.

One of the buses on the run was a substitute single-door which was just a joke. I'm sure Premier must have enough two-door buses to find a decent substitute if one of the regular buses is down.

There were also a lot of people in town using Premier's other services and big crowds at bus stops, but the normal route buses weren't anywhere near as crowded as the 55. They were invariably single-door, but this probably didn't matter as much. One big problem was the lack of destination/number displays on the side and back of most of the buses (except the 55 which mostly has its own livery in any case). This is a real problem when you're approaching a bus stop from behind and there are several buses lined up and you have to run to around the front of the first bus to look back and see where they're all going - by which time they start pulling out!

Wollongong is interesting because it's the only big city operation without government buses so it's a chance to see how the privates manage it. On a learning curve would be the answer (not that State Transit is an exemplar of knowledge and competence). One thing nice is that the drivers are all nice and friendly "country" drivers which makes for a good experience, though a couple drive the 55 like a rally car which is not very nice when it's packed with standees.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby burrumbus » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:02 pm

Having just done a riding day in the northern suburbs of Melbourne,I can advise that one Melbourne operator uses the 2 door boarding method that tonyp advocates.
The long established and highly regarded small Ryan Bros Bus Service utilises 2 door boarding at their two main loading points on route 465 at Essendon station and Milleara Road shopping centre.
It works superbly on what is the best patronised and most frequent route in the northern suburbs.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby Swift » Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:28 pm

Someone needs to video it!! What happened to the trial in Sydney? Brisbane were trialling it too.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby burrumbus » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:29 am

tonyp will be happy to know that Skybus in Melbourne also emply use 2 door loading at Melbourne airport on their deckers on the city services.Noted it yesterday.Again worked well on what is a really busy service
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:37 am

I spent about 6 hours (with breaks!) yesterday riding the Gong Shuttle both directions plus stopping to observe at stops. The period was about 1000 to 1600, so mostly off peak up to start of pm peak. Not that I'm sure there is a "peak" as such as it's full-on all day. Observations:

1. If this is the state's busiest bus service I believe it. There was nothing remotely resembling any "empty" time, it was full-on all day. Some buses had 60-70 passengers on board. It's just a stunning success, no doubt about it.

2. Contrary to what TfNSW told me (and the operator was telling the truth after all), drivers are counting passengers for TfNSW by pressing a button on the ticket machine as they enter (forcibly) through the front door. However, only some drivers were doing the count. I don't see the sense of that. There are also other counting technologies available. There was one person centre-door boarding (with a big suitcase too!) but the younger drivers don't seem to mind. There was one older grumpy driver (shouldn't these ones be retired to the depot office?) who slammed the door in the face of an attempted centre-boarder. Premier Illawarra has recently put a very polite sign beside the centre doors apologising that there is no centre door boarding, instead of a curt "no entry". They must have watched the Perth CAT video I sent them.

3. On one of the Optimus buses the driver's video display was (accidentally?) streamed onto the passenger PID in the saloon and there were nine camera points altogether, the interesting thing being that the instant the centre door opened, the display observing the door flicked to full screen giving an excellent view. Absolutely no safety obstacle there to allowing centre door boarding but the TfNSW Reichsbunker (in collusion with the unions?) obviously won't come at it.

4. The buses moved smoothly once running (only very minor, inconsequential choke points in Burrelli St) but there were big delays at some stops due to passenger exchange issues mentioned elsewhere. Internally, the mosh-pit effect was in full cry as people shied away from the high floor and jammed into the front 2/3 of the bus. People didn't even want to sit down the back because of the high turnover nature of the route and the seats would only fill up when forced down there by sheer weight of numbers. There were never more than 2 or 3 standees on the high floor, they were all packed like sardines into the low floor (near the doors obviously) - one passenger even shouted angrily to people to move down. One of the runs even left 15 people behind to cool their heels for a further 10 minutes at the university because they couldn't get in the front half of the bus even though the bus was half empty at the back. What if somebody had a train to catch? This is just shocking I think. The poor uni students are brow-beaten into queuing for the bus, so some get left behind. Everybody else and at all other stops just boards in a mob. Next round of orders for these buses needs the fully low floor Scania N series chassis. There's a limit to how long this farce can be perpetuated.

5. Fantastic to be in Volgren territory, like in Perth. This is the best local bodybuilder by a country mile, they know how to do layout and seat pitch (I actually have leg room in the seats yay!!). The steps to the high floor are quite reasonable (though in reality any steps at all are an obstacle to people going up there). On an N series chassis it would be getting close to perfection. It's a pity they have to go out to tender on these things and can't just choose the design/chassis that's most fit for purpose, though they could obviously address that with a well-defined specification in the tender brief. For some reason chassis manufacturers (other than MB) aren't identified on the outside of the buses any longer so I couldn't identify whether I was riding a Scania, Volvo etc. The buses on the run yesterday included the dedicated Volgrens but there was at least one other Volgren in TfNSW colours and a single door bus which would have been fun and games.

6. The most intense points of the route are the CBD and the university, with some traffic at Wollongong Station and a very solid park and ride component in Gwynneville where the streets are parked out. This bus must have contributed hugely to cutting down car use around the city centre, which is one very good reason for these downtown circulators. The seafront has a bit of activity and the quietest section would be Fairy Meadow end where the route would run to service the UOW Fairy Meadow campus. However it sould be facile to dismiss this as a university bus because the UOW buses (run by Dions) do the lion's share of this work. Unfortunately it's impossible to see into the UOW buses to check loads due to the heavy wrap but the crowds at those stands at the UOW platform are enormous. At the 55A/C stands not so much.

7. There is a capacity issue and this will only worsen over time. There is a suite of potential solutions. Realistically achievable should be the Scania N Series chassis and maybe another door between the axles (like the Carbridge buses), though I don't know if TfNSW has wrapped its head around that one yet. In any case that would need all-door loading to get the most out of it and that obviously isn't achievable in the present regime. The next and most obvious solution would to pour more buses onto the run (like 5 minute headways) and this would obviously carry a cost issue and would need a political directive. Another possibility is articulated buses but I don't know how they'd go on all those sharp turns and small roundabouts through Gwynneville. I believe the turning circle of an artic is the same as a 12 metre but in practical terms I would have to defer to the thoughts of anybody here who drives artics. One thing artics would achieve, failing the other solution, is about 13 metres of low floor and three doors but that's an expensive way of achieving what you should be able to do with a 12 metre! Trams, as I've said before, are not feasible here without massive re-engineering of the landscape and resumptions - just completely out of the question for this exact route.

If I think of anything I've missed I'll edit this post. I also noted how busy the general Wollongong bus scene is with lots of buses all day long, though not filled anywhere remotely near the levels of the 55A/C. I note that Dions route 1 runs over 21 hours a day on Fridays and Saturdays. In spite of their busy-ness though they only run single-door buses. Dions yard at Fairy Meadow is quaintly unfenced on either side of a street off the highway, an old-fashioned "country" touch. The UOW buses are stored here. The 55A/C stops outside Dions/Officeworks still have those fences that prevent use of the centre door but I suspect now that this has something to do with marshalling students from the adjacent high school.

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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby Tonymercury » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:57 am

tonyp wrote:I spent about 6 hours (with breaks!) yesterday riding the Gong Shuttle both directions plus stopping to observe at stops.



Will you soon be doing a name change to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch?
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:31 am

Tonymercury wrote:
tonyp wrote:I spent about 6 hours (with breaks!) yesterday riding the Gong Shuttle both directions plus stopping to observe at stops.



Will you soon be doing a name change to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch?

Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch if you don't mind - "ATDB's Wollongong Correspondent". Has a nice ring to it, as well as a healthy dose of masochism. 8)

There are, however, some nice coffee shops along the route.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:11 am

I finally got a reply to my letter to the Minister (although only answered by a "customer relations" minion because the Minister is obviously too busy) regarding the need for all-door loading and next-bus countdown timers at stops for the 55A/C. The reply is that all-door loading won't be considered at all for "safety" reasons and the bus runs at regular intervals according to the timetable (which it doesn't), so why would you need next bus advice? In reply to another question, they also advised that they didn't see anything wrong with the journey time on the majority straight section of the south coast railway. The trains are slow because of "curves" apparently.

I wouldn't normally bother writing a Ministerial as it has always been a waste of time, but it's easier nowadays thanks to the electronic proforma and it provides a momentary thrill seeing what new permutation of bunkum they can come up with in the reply this time around.

We're stuffed in NSW.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby Swift » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:37 am

At least you can count on a response for a good laugh.
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Re: Wollongong Rt. 55 Commenced Service & Split into 55A/C

Postby tonyp » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:04 pm

Big fight emerging in Wollongong over TfNSW introducing Perth-style system (scanning Opal card) for controlling the commuter carpark at Wollongong station which is being overrun by Wollongong CBD workers:

http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/stor ... me/?cs=300

I don't know whether TfNSW deserves a free plug for the Gong Shuttle from a certain "Tony P" there, the bumbling way they run it, but, what the heck, I always stand up for public transport when the chips are down!

They needed to supplement the shuttle with some P+R carparks along the route to make it fully effective.

And all-door loading and fully low floor to stop this happening and people being left behind at stops because they can't get on:

loadingfail.jpg
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In addition it was a stupid decision to build a carpark for train commuters on valuable land which has better uses right in the centre of the CBD. And naturally then what do they expect when other people want to use it too? It should have been built at North Wollongong or Coniston.
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