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NSW On Demand Buses

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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby tonyp » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:18 am

There's a good write-up and survey of NSW on-demand services in the current (March 2018) Australian Bus.

I see three significant issues immediately:

1. The fare levels could not be afforded on a sustained basis by a lot of the people likely to use these buses.

2. Payment seems to be entirely by credit card. Again a lot of people likely to use these buses wouldn't have credit cards because they wouldn't have the income level to be approved by the bank for a card.

3. Most of the mini/midi buses are not accessible.

For all three reasons I'd see normal route buses being necessary for the foreseeable future. They can't simply be replaced by a glorified and costly taxi service. The on-demands need to be low-floor vehicles with Opal and lower fares. This would probably negate a lot of their economic advantage over route bus services I imagine. I can see why Constance was so enthusiastic about them - they're a bit of an elitist ("gold class") transit service, not very useful in the big picture. The only thing they have an advantage over is more expensive taxis and ubers.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Fleet Lists » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:45 am

Quoting from the Transdevlink website

Are the shuttles accessible for people with specific mobility needs?

Transdev Link Mercedes Sprinter shuttles are Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant and:

Each vehicle is equipped with driver assisted electronic lifts to enable you and your wheelchair to travel safe.
Allow approved assistance animal travel such as guide dogs and hearing dogs.

If you need special assistance, we ask that you notify us when booking your trip.

Also cash is accepted.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Passenger 57 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:55 am

tonyp wrote:There's a good write-up and survey of NSW on-demand services in the current (March 2018) Australian Bus.

I see three significant issues immediately:

I expect that many of those issues present in the trials would not be present in the final services. They are not even present in all the trials. As a practical matter it made sense to limit the scope of trials in particular not supporting Opal, If on-demand services are expected to replace scheduled route services they will need to replicate much of the features of the current route service.
1. The fare levels could not be afforded on a sustained basis by a lot of the people likely to use these buses.

There is a lot of variation in fares for the trials. They range from $2.60 and concession fares are available on some trials. These would all disappear if Opal was accepted under the same rules as currently applies for bus services.
2. Payment seems to be entirely by credit card. Again a lot of people likely to use these buses wouldn't have credit cards because they wouldn't have the income level to be approved by the bank for a card.

At least one of the trials accepted cash and telephone bookings. For those that do not and are old enough a scheme debit card would suffice, Most bank transaction accounts come with one of these. Prepaid debit cards that can be reloaded over the counter say at Australia post may be another option. A more significant problem is the carriage of unaccompanied children under 12.

Assured payment is desirable for these services but more difficult to reconcile with the current stored value version of Opal.

3. Most of the mini/midi buses are not accessible.

Transdev claims the Sprinter they use are accessible and DDA compliant. It's likely buses in the roll-out would be accessible but probably not as accessible as you or disability advocates would like.

For all three reasons I'd see normal route buses being necessary for the foreseeable future. They can't simply be replaced by a glorified and costly taxi service.

A reasonably priced taxi service is fine but the issue is how these will function under load.

The on-demands need to be low-floor vehicles with Opal and lower fares. This would probably negate a lot of their economic advantage over route bus services I imagine.

Ideally.

I can see why Constance was so enthusiastic about them - they're a bit of an elitist ("gold class") transit service, not very useful in the big picture.

He'd like to outsource the provision of transit services. I think he's made some remarks along the lines. However, if these can provide a better service than scheduled route service at a similar prices than I'm for them. Unfortunately, some of the trials are pretty pathetic but then so are some scheduled services

. The only thing they have an advantage over is more expensive taxis and ubers.

Which are proper well resourced on-demand services. How useful is a service that you may need to be book weeks in advance to be assured of a seat at the time you want?
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby boronia » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:45 am

Quote:

2. Payment seems to be entirely by credit card. Again a lot of people likely to use these buses wouldn't have credit cards because they wouldn't have the income level to be approved by the bank for a card.


A lot of the people likely to use these services don't have/use credit cards because they are afraid of the technology.

They don't like Opal cards for the same reason
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby mandonov » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:05 pm

Fleet Lists wrote:Also cash is accepted.

Newcastle Transport's trial also accepts cash, as well as over the phone and in person bookings up to 3 months in advance.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Glen » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:55 pm

As time goes on, the number of people 'afraid' of credit cards will decline.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby thunderbird » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:01 pm

My experience so far with Transdev on Demand in Sutherland Shire.

- It is difficult to impossible to book on the same day. Even the telephone operator has told me at the moment you need to book at least the day prior.
- The vehicles are excellent.
- The staff are friendly and professional.
- The app does not deliver what is promised. Originally the promotional material stated that the app would suggest alternative times to ride if your requested time was unavailable - it does not do this. So you are required to keep re-trying different times, possibly in vain, if the service is booked out for the day.
- Whenever I walk past the bus while its operating in Sutherland, it is either empty, or has one passenger one it. (You can see through the tinted glass from the footpath). The five times I have used the service, it has been a direct run, with me as the only passenger on board.

I don't think they are using the full potential of a 13 seat vehicle, but rather booking direct A to B for individual passengers, a taxpayer funded Uber. Hope to be proven wrong as I think the idea for on demand bus is fantastic.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby moa999 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:17 pm

That sounds like a pretty poor implementation, and expensive if used for mostly single direct journeys
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby boronia » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:47 pm

Glen wrote:As time goes on, the number of people 'afraid' of credit cards will decline.

By natural attrition?
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Passenger 57 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:16 pm

thunderbird wrote:My experience so far with Transdev on Demand in Sutherland Shire.
- It is difficult to impossible to book on the same day. Even the telephone operator has told me at the moment you need to book at least the day prior.

Yet,
- Whenever I walk past the bus while its operating in Sutherland, it is either empty, or has one passenger one it.

Something is wrong.

The five times I have used the service, it has been a direct run, with me as the only passenger on board.

I was going to say that the trip "guarantee" time of the Transdev operated trials limits the numbers of passengers who can be picked up or set down, but on checking the details they have just dropped this:
https://www.transdevlink.com.au wrote:From Tuesday 6 March, we will no longer offer a 30 minute maximum journey time guarantee for Transdev Link trips. We are making this change in response to customer feedback. Removing the journey time guarantee means we can make more trips and seats available to customers during busy times, and increase the amount of ride sharing.

They have also dropped the 15 min guarantee on the ES and Manly Ride-Plus trial. The "guarantee" such as it was came without any consequences, This seems like a good sign. I guess it means demand has picked up which bodes well for a sustainable service hopefully there will still be some reasonable bounds on trip times. I suspect some current users will no longer to continue to use the service in response to this.
I don't think they are using the full potential of a 13 seat vehicle, but rather booking direct A to B for individual passengers, a taxpayer funded Uber. Hope to be proven wrong as I think the idea for on demand bus is fantastic.

It might make sense in some areas to subsidise a ride sharing scheme rather than using larger vehicles. I would also add some hailing to the current model. Possibly, only at or near hubs. Without connection guarantees people need to book when nearing their transfer points.

Edit: forgot to mention Manly.
Last edited by Passenger 57 on Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Glen » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:31 pm

boronia wrote:
Glen wrote:As time goes on, the number of people 'afraid' of credit cards will decline.

By natural attrition?

Yes, that's largely what I was thinking of.

Passenger 57 wrote:I would also add some hailing to the current model. Possibly, only at or near hubs.

I understand this would contradict the Point-to-Point legislation.

Only taxis can be hailed.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Passenger 57 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:55 pm

That's a solvable problem if they aren't technically buses.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby burrumbus » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:06 pm

moa999 wrote:That sounds like a pretty poor implementation, and expensive if used for mostly single direct journeys

I think that to be deemed successful and as possible replacements for low patronage route services the on demand services need to pick up 4-10 pax per trip.
From what I've seen and heard from feedback there is only one in Sydney that is picking up reasonable load factors is the Transit Systems services to the Wetherill Park industrial area.Around a 1000 downloads of their app thus far.
Anybody have some more feedback to report ??
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Passenger 57 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:44 am

burrumbus wrote:I think that to be deemed successful and as possible replacements for low patronage route services the on demand services need to pick up 4-10 pax per trip.

Surely, that depends on what the existing route services are carrying. If you cancel them they will come. Given the limitations and lack of marketing of the various trials I don't know that any current lack of success proves anything about replacement. Perhaps that's not the objective of the trials anyway. It would be interesting to see what the proportion of passenger-trips start or terminate outside the practical service area of scheduled route services and the proportion of same-time bookings by patrons. The former clearly demonstrates a need not covered by existing services and would receive a service improvement and the latter demonstrates a group who do not require frequent services and are therefore well served by a service that requires longer rather than shorter advance notice which is what these services will work best with. If there is limited success with those users they can increase resources provide Opal integration and see what happens when they start winding back scheduled services.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Passenger 57 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:35 am

burrumbus wrote:From what I've seen and heard from feedback there is only one in Sydney that is picking up reasonable load factors is the Transit Systems services to the Wetherill Park industrial area.Around a 1000 downloads of their app thus far.
Anybody have some more feedback to report ??

Well, it's easy enough to look in Google Play for downloads. The Ride-Plus app used by Transdev in the Manly and ES trials has between 1000-5000 downloads. The Transdev Link app for Transdev's Sutherland trials has the same range of downloads but curiously a much higher rating for what is likely a very similar app. Curiously, the same rating variance is reflected inn the IOS version. The PBC On Demand app has 100 - 500 downloads. Same for the CDC OurBus, Interline Connect and Premier Podpi apps. I'm not sure where you're getting your figures for Transit Systems from. The Bridj app has 10000 - 50000 downloads but that would also include the prior North American downloads of the app.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby moa999 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:52 am

Also noted on the Transfer Ride-Plus site:

From Tuesday 6 March, we will no longer offer a 15 minute maximum journey time guarantee for Ride Plus trips. We are making this change in response to customer feedback. Removing the journey time guarantee means we can make more trips and seats available to customers during busy times, and increase the amount of ride sharing.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Swift » Thu Mar 15, 2018 12:24 pm

Sounds more like a fresh air carrying service.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Passenger 57 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:55 pm

moa999 wrote:Also noted on the Transfer Ride-Plus site:

From Tuesday 6 March, we will no longer offer a 15 minute maximum journey time guarantee for Ride Plus trips. We are making this change in response to customer feedback. Removing the journey time guarantee means we can make more trips and seats available to customers during busy times, and increase the amount of ride sharing.

Sometimes I feel invisible. I did forget that Transdev were also running the Manly trial under the Ride-Plus brand but i have now corrected my posting above,. I suppose that makes the downloads figure less impressive but given the extent of the formerly differing trip time guarantees I would guess the Sutherland trials are comparable in size to the 2 Ride-Plus trials combined.

I hope TfNSW publishes a decent analysis of the trials but as its TfNSW ...

Thunderbird: I'm curious as to why you needed to use the service or what you would have done in its absence. My alternative transport on demand service is walking or bludging a lift (= inviting a friend with a car along.) I haven't yet had the need to use one of these services but I would consider using one to save a longer walk when no direct bus service is available and the direct route is significantly shorter but not at a huge premium: $3.10 vs. $2.15 for the equivalent Opal fare seems a fair price, Booking in advance seems a major pain though or at least will be as the amount of notice required increases. Seems easier just to try and leave earlier. I really only feel the need for on-demand transport when I'm running late...
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby burrumbus » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:42 pm

Evening Passenger 57.I got the download figure for Transit Systems on demand service from one of the drivers.As I said earlier from my observations and feedback that is the only service I consider viable at the moment.
I agree with you that thus far, the marketing for nearly all of the on demand trials has been very poor,and the payment options of cards for nearly all the services,and the app based booking systems rules out many potential customers.But marketing has never been one of the strengths of conventional route operators ,to whom all but one of the contracts has been granted.
The trials on the metro on demand trials only have a contracted trial period of a year.That doesn't leave much time for improved marketing,if that indeed happens,and patronage to build.
If the evidence thus far of the Transdev services of one pax per trip,the trials just won't survive beyond the one year contract.
It is indeed TFNSW's intention to replace low patronage conventional route services with on demand if the trials succeed .As you indicated that will most likely require loadings replicating roughly what the route services currently achieve.As I indicated,in the range 4-10 pax per trip,even at peak..
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby BroadGauge » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:57 pm

thunderbird wrote:- It is difficult to impossible to book on the same day. Even the telephone operator has told me at the moment you need to book at least the day prior.

Is there any logical reason why not? It can't be due to overcrowding meaning that no seats are available!

The website for Transdev Link claims that trips can be booked up to an hour prior, which is more reasonable:
Transdev wrote:When should I book my Transdev Link trip

You can book a trip with Transdev Link from one week up to one hour before your trip. The earlier you make your booking, the better guarantee you have of finding a seat available. We recommend you book your trip minimum one hour in advance.

It makes a mockery of the term "on demand" if you need to give them 24 hours notice (say if you wanted to travel late in the day) to catch a bus for a 5 or 10 minute journey in suburbia :roll:
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Tonymercury » Fri Mar 16, 2018 4:51 am

BroadGauge wrote:It makes a mockery of the term "on demand" if you need to give them 24 hours notice (say if you wanted to travel late in the day) to catch a bus for a 5 or 10 minute journey in suburbia :roll:


And even if you do it, but make a return journey, you often have no idea as to what time that second journey is required sometimes until you are on the last leg to the interchange.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Passenger 57 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:45 am

I think "bookable transport" is a more accurate name from a customers point of view but much less sexy. The Translink drivers i spoke to stated that you can book at shorter notice than indicated on the web site. There is no reason that I can think of for the system to impose a minimum delay of an hour when vehicles are available.I don't suppose that ASAP is available as a time choice in the app?
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Swift » Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:57 pm

With smart phone technology and the power of today's software, I can't see why the trip can't be malleable right up to the last minute.
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Passenger 57 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:08 pm

Swift wrote:With smart phone technology and the power of today's software, I can't see why the trip can't be malleable right up to the last minute.

I expect the recommendation of booking at least an hour ahead is more of expectation management but from what I have been told this is not enforced by the software. Encouraging people to book earlier means that people can receive updates of changes to arrival and pickup times though I expect there could be a lot of contingency built into earlier bookings. Scheduling is an interesting constraints solving problem. if you wish to maximise passenger load you would not accept a booking that would cause you to not to take multiple other bookings. I guess it is a good thing these trials are not run along the same principles as budget airlines otherwise you could find your bookings cancelled in favour of bookings that improve load factor at a particular time. If the software did dictate pick up points I'm sure you would get something resembling route service at busy times.

Does anyone know anything interesting about the scheduling software in use. I was expecting that the software would dictate where drivers spend their layovers but in the case of the software Transdev is using it is up to the drivers,
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Re: NSW On Demand Buses

Postby Tonymercury » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:47 am

Passenger 57 wrote: Encouraging people to book earlier means that people can receive updates of changes to arrival and pickup times though I expect there could be a lot of contingency built into earlier bookings.


Its another great TfNSW demand suppressor, following on from years of similar 'successful' projects. People often have lots of contingency built into their personal itineraries. As one example, how often are medical appointments on time leaving people with an hour to wait for a return service?
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