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2017 review of Public Transport: Victoria

Melbourne / Victoria Transport Discussion

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Re: 2017 review of Public Transport: Victoria

Postby burrumbus » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:25 pm

No need for a tin hat and bunker from me either krustyklo !!!!.I think everybody appreciates your insights .I'd agree with Mike again.The railway carparks do fill up rapidly on the weekends on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line.Perhaps a lower income demographic in the far South East with more shift workers filling the carparks than in the North.??
I'D agree with your summation of the success of the peak hour and especially weekend Smartbus services.They are probably some of the few Melbourne routes that carry really good loadings,sometimes standing loads.
I'd also agree that changes to bus routes need to be done on what I'd call small networks of 3-6 routes in a small geographical area rather than incremental improvements to a single service.The success of the Cragieburn and Point Cokk networks shows that.I think better value is gained for the money spent there.
I was at Craigieburn station ,last Saturday evening round the 7pm mark.Trains running late but the three main bus routes there were achieving loadings of between 15-25 pax at that time.In many areas of Melbourne loadings at that time would be minimal.
It's hard to put a percentage on the number of services to cull,or rework,or convert to demand .It depends on the potential of each geographical area-which are all different.Certaintly there needs to be change across large slabs of Melbourne to improve bus patronage .
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Re: 2017 review of Public Transport: Victoria

Postby Heihachi_73 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:56 am

krustyklo wrote:
Sorry, but we will just have to agree to disagree about frequencies on early & evening morning train services. I don't think that patronage on the outer reaches of the Hurstbridge line is a good example to quote, it's hardly Melbourne's busiest. The standing loads regularly carried on the Dandenong & Frankston lines when 30 minute services are running are a better example. I also note that with recent changes in Sydney many services that operate at 15 minute frequencies during the day now continue at that level until at least 11pm 7 days a week. In comparison we have services that run at 10 minute frequencies until 7pm on weekends then reduce to every 30 after that. Does our train usage suddenly drop by 2/3 after that time? I don't think so.

I'm happy to accept that if there are particular routes / times where trains are running every 30 minutes with standees on a regular basis, then there is some justification for frequency improvements. And I agree that a sudden jump from 10 minutely services to every 30 may need some more thought. However, the other interpretation is that in the hour before 7pm, every 10 minutes is too generous rather than after 7pm is too meagre. I don't use those lines on a frequent basis to be able to comment. The same argument is about whether demand suddenly triples around 10am. There is probably an argument for ramping up and down, even if it means rearranging existing resources just after 10am / just before 7pm to facilitate this (in answer to Notch's argument about not being able to pull drivers from thin air).

I think part of the issue is that people make blanket statements about improving frequencies across the board at times when things are a bit quiet in many places. Yet nobody seems to acknowledge the increased frequencies on the Burnley group on weekday evenings as an example of providing a localised solution to a localised problem without resorting to "but two lines are busy at 8pm so we need 10 minute services on all lines at that time". It has always been the thing that put me off the PTUA "10 minutes" campaign - not all services need to be run every 10 minutes at all times, but equally there are much fewer that only need to be hourly than currently are. At the end of the day those services have to be paid for by you and me as taxpayers. I'm happy to do so, but it needs to be justified.

I agree with Mike re the value for money provided by many bus routes with minimal patronage.The patronage numbers provided on the list on another thread here really prove that.I think that many services need to be reworked to provide frequent corridor services where there is potential.Many other services could be converted to on demand or small buses,or a good number just discontinued.Many bus services in the metro area just don't have the current or potential patronage to justify 20 minute weekday/30 minute weekend services.Wasted money that could be used to provide services which have the potential for good patronage.

Is the problem that the majority of services run infrequently genuinely don't have the demand to justify anything better (and hence are likely candidates for alternative ways of providing transport cost effectively for the small demand on offer), or is it that the services are so unattractive that potential users rightly turn their nose up and drive? What proportion of services are in each category? Gut feeling is that whilst there are services that need to be culled (some of which I described in the other thread), many more probably could attract a decent patronage if the frequency was sufficient. A good example of this would be the example of some sections of the Smartbus routes.

Using the section of 902 nearest to me, prior to the introduction of the 902 Sherbourne Rd was served by the 513 running every 30 minutes in peak hour, every 40 minutes off peak, and every 80 minutes off peak. It also took a deviation via St Helena Rd to get to Greensborough. Para Rd was served by the 293 which runs every 20 minutes in the peak, 30 off peak, hourly on Saturdays and 2 hourly on Sundays. Eltham to Shoppingtown was served by the 281 which ran every 30 minutes on weekdays, every hour on Saturdays and no service on Sundays. It was also indirect in that it ran via Templestowe and High St (same as the truncated version does now). If memory serves correctly (arguable), the 281 was never overly full at the Eltham end (and often seemingly ran empty on Saturdays), the 513 was never overly full (and similar to 281 on weekends), but the 293 was busy in peak hour and had semi-respectable loads off peak without being full (now abstracted by the 901 and 902). On weekends there were more users than now but reflective of the poor frequency in that it wasn't anywhere near full.

Post the 902, Greensborough to Eltham is now quite busy with many stops to pick up / drop off in peak hour, Eltham to Porter St is even busier with many people travelling through Eltham and often leaves Eltham with a full seated load, and along Williamsons Rd has standees in peak hour. Even off peak and especially weekends 902 buses along this section have the majority of seats taken along this stretch despite the half hourly frequency. This one section of route easily carries 4 times the previous loads from the others on weekdays, and well over double on weekends (compared to largely empty buses) in the same sections covered due to the direct journeys offered over the previous routes and increased frequency. In fact I'd argue weekend patronage is the hidden success story of the Smartbus network's improved routes and frequencies even more so than weekdays based purely on anecdotal observation, certainly around my area.

Before people jump up and down with counter-examples, sure one could point to the poor old 901 through Plenty, or <insert other example here>. However, the interesting part about the Plenty section is that it has had a slow increase in patronage over the 5 years since its introduction, and it is in effect a convenient positioning move anyway as the sections both sides carry OK loads, especially given it doesn't serve as many major activity centres as the other routes. Others can comment on other parts.

Personally, my "armchair" solution is that if there is money available for improvements, it needs to be targetted in areas rather than one route here/ one route there. Public transport is attractive as a network, hence my questioning of spending yet more money on train / tram improvements to the exclusion of thinking about how people GET to the station. The millions of dollars spent on car park upgrades are really just spent on peak hour capacity - railway station car parks are ghost towns on weekends in my area. Excellent for learner drivers to practice, not so much a good use of taxpayer dollars. A better use of PT spending money, and car park upgrade money, would be to increase weekday / weekend frequencies (preferably in an area which has a car park upgrade proposed - it can even be a pork barrel electorate for all I care to prove the concept and start a virtuous spiral) on local bus routes in a given area so all can benefit, not just those who drive to the station before 7.30am. Do it as a 2 year trial and build the multi million dollar car park after that if it fails and there is still the need. Sort of like a Plenty Valley network review / improvement in an established area with currently crappy services (even if the services are only crappy outside peak hour). Run a minimum 10-15 minute service in peak hour and 20 minutely at all other times. If the cost recovery justifies it, put the saved money from better cost recovery into expanding services adjacent to those improved.

Incremental improvements don't justify further incremental improvements from the PTV or politicians. The Smartbus network was a big bang that had a big positive effect on Melbourne bus travel. Similar things need to happen to improve bus patronage and utilisation by culling poorly used services and putting those and additional resources into big bang improvements in as big an area as the funding will allow. Then using the savings from improved cost recovery to increase the size of the area. Seemingly there is some sympathy for this view in light of big bang network reviews in Werribee, Wollert / Epping North, Plenty Valley, and Cranbourne. From my few trips on the 20 minute peak hour services on the 385 it seems to have had a positive effect already compared to the previous half hourly 520 / 572. Let's extend that effect to existing services.

To use my local / semi-local area - cull the weekend 513 services between Eltham and Rosanna via Greensborough. At every 80 minutes it would be quicker to walk to another route or the Hurstbridge line. Anyone who can drive already is. Or if that is too much, Eltham to Greensborough has better travel options that are being used over the 513. Cull the 385 trips to Whittlesea - every 80 minutes off peak is pointless, and the peak hour ones run at similar times to the 382 anyway.
I'm not sure whether to also cull the 513 Lower Plenty services as well or upgrade them. The route has some duplication with the 901 and 902 at the eastern end but these don't synchronise on weekends nor is it a particularly convenient interchange (the PTV planner suggests travelling to Templestowe, crossing the road, and waiting 9 minutes). However, the 582 also runs along the populated part of this section of route north of the Fitzsimons Lane roundabout to Eltham, and runs every 20 minutes, so it may well be there is few people likely to travel along the 513 section from Lower Plenty to Eltham anyway given the overlap with better services. If the resources went into an improved 517 then that may well be enough despite the indirect routing. In fact, on the weekend the PTV planner suggests more journeys from the Yallambie MacDonalds to Eltham via the 517 to Greensborough and 513 / 902 / train to Eltham anyway.
Lastly, cull the 293 Sunday services. Might as well do the Saturday ones as well - the hourly service runs empty. Most of the route duplicates other routes or is walkable to the 901 / 902 or the station. If the 901 / 902 can be made to synchronise a quick interchange that would be sufficient.

Without doing the sums, I previously calculated 1 bus saved on the 385 cull. A look at the 513 timetable suggests 2 buses saved by culling the 513 loops (3 if you also eliminate the traffic jammed Rosanna to Heidelberg section, but I don't know how many people use it to comment), 1.5 293 buses on Saturday and 0.75 on Sunday.

If we live in fantasyland and assume buses are transferrable between companies, running the Sunday 517/566 every 40 minutes and the 564/9 every 20 instead of this odd 20/40 arrangement would be a good use of those resources extending the area covered by similar frequencies on the Plenty Valley / Epping - Wollert networks to Mill Park North as well as providing an improved Sunday service to Yallambie to replace the lost 513.

However, feel free to improve any area you like - the principle is the same.
<grabs tin hat and retreats to bunker>

I haven't noticed increased frequencies on the Burnley group during the week as I am usually entering the city after 9PM, not leaving the city, so I am well used to seeing 2034 (last express), 2036 (3 cars!), 2106, 2136, 2206, 2236, 2306 and 2236 at Ringwood, it has been exactly the same ever since I moved here 15 years ago; even before that (I previously lived in the bus dead zone called Mooroolbark) the timetable was the same. In fact, even when looking at the 1939 working timetable (yes, nearly eighty years ago) the timetable from Ringwood is mostly unchanged, complete with the last up express that didn't stop at Mitcham and Tunstall aka Nunawading (Heatherdale and Laburnum stations didn't exist back then), which was at 2046 rather than 2034; and even back then the trains after 9PM were roughly every 30 minutes but had up trains leaving from Box Hill (the short terminus was eventually moved to Blackburn, but there are no Blackburn trains at night unlike the Box Hill trains in the 30s). Trains running every 30 minutes is fine for regional Victoria where 4 out of 5 stations rival Wattle Glen in usage, not places as close to the city as East Richmond, Hawthorn/Glenferrie and Camberwell. The 1930s actually had more trains going more places and at the exact same speeds of today's trains (with the exception of Lilydale, which was just a bush town back then with the main terminus being Croydon). Time to leave the 1930s behind, Melbourne, you have gone from having the #1 public transport in the world to being the laughing stock of the world.
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Re: 2017 review of Public Transport: Victoria

Postby krustyklo » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:03 pm

A quick look at the weekday evening services to Ringwood have trains departing at xx:05, xx:20, xx:35, xx:50 until the 22:05, after which the timetable reverts to half hourly until the 24:05. As good as Sydney frequencies in fact. A flow on effect is that there is a 15 minute outbound service from Box Hill until 22:39. More than enough time to get dumplings and kill time at the Timezone if it is still there.

These have not always been the case, they were introduced around 5-8(?) years ago or so? Someone with better records / memory can jump in here...

A more recent improvement in evening frequencies was a few timetable changes back with extra weekday evening trains on the Hurstbridge line, with departures at 20:05, 20:18 (Eltham), 20:41 (Hurstbridge), 21:05, 21:18 (Eltham), 22:41 (Hurstbrige) then half hourly. Would be nicer if more evenly spaced, but still better than half hourly.

The Sandringham line improvements in the 90s are still going strong with weekday evening services every 20 minutes until last service. Even the Dandenong line has trains to *Pakenham* every 20 minutes until 10pm. Frankston line trains are every 20 minutes until 10.15pm.

The lines that miss out seem to be the Glen Waverley line, South Morang line and the Northern group lines. All the others have better than 15 or 20 minute services until 10pm.

It would be easy to put on the rose coloured glasses and point to a long ago era where there were much better services. However, growing up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, we have come some way from half hourly evening trains from 7pm, often with the last carriage of a 3 car Comeng lit up and the other 2 carriages in darkness. Unless you lived on the Upfield line of course, in which case the number 19 tram leaves from across the road in Elizabeth St, and change to a railway bus at North Coburg terminus. Sunday services ran every 40 minutes all day and finished some time before midnight, unlike now. Hurstbridge and Epping line trains ran every 24 minutes during the day. Yes, it would be nice to have more frequent services at all times of the day. But the current services aren't as crap as made out - there have been a lot of improvements in the last 20 - 25 years, some of which seem to go unacknowledged, perhaps by people much younger than I who weren't around in the low point of the railways.

Indeed, those full trains we use as an indicator of the need for more services also suggest that (whilst I would agree with the need for better services as the demand is obviously there) lots of normal people also think the service is currently good enough to use instead of driving.

Even with my expressed desire to see better than hourly bus services across Melbourne, it wasn't so long ago that there were no Sunday services to speak of at all in most parts of Melbourne, let alone hourly or half hourly.
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Re: 2017 review of Public Transport: Victoria

Postby Mitch » Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:44 pm

Great post, JRBUS123!

When you say Dyson's took over Wodonga, do you mean the Corowa-Albury route? Dyson's have had Wodonga/Albury for years! :lol:

Mitch :lol:
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Re: 2017 review of Public Transport: Victoria

Postby BroadGauge » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:32 am

krustyklo wrote:A quick look at the weekday evening services to Ringwood have trains departing at xx:05, xx:20, xx:35, xx:50 until the 22:05, after which the timetable reverts to half hourly until the 24:05. As good as Sydney frequencies in fact.

The new timetables in Sydney have a minimum 15 minute frequency from first train to last, 7 days per week on many lines, including those to outlying termini like Penrith and Macarthur.

I wouldn't consider the service in Melbourne to be quite that good, you can catch a train from Campbelltown every 15 minutes at 4:30am on a Sunday morning, whereas in many parts of Melbourne you'll find trains every 40-60 minutes prior to 10am.. :twisted:

krustyklo wrote:These have not always been the case, they were introduced around 5-8(?) years ago or so? Someone with better records / memory can jump in here...

If I remember correctly, the 8:50pm, 9:20pm and 9:50pm Ringwood trains were introduced in 2008. One anomaly about those services that still exists in 2018 is that the 8:50pm and 9:20pm services are still operated using half length (3 car) trains.. :shock:

Back when those services were first introduced, not only was the 9:05pm Belgrave train the service following the first 30 minute gap of the evening, it was the first 3-car service of the evening. So given the instant halving of both frequency and capacity per service, you can imagine that it used to get packed.

krustyklo wrote:The lines that miss out seem to be the Glen Waverley line, South Morang line and the Northern group lines. All the others have better than 15 or 20 minute services until 10pm.

Werribee line has a 20 minute frequency until 10pm, and has for quite a few years now. After then it reverts to 30 minutely, even for passengers traveling to Footscray which has essentially a 2/28 minute frequency because the Werribee and Sunbury trains come at almost the same time.

The profile of patronage can be slightly different in the evenings to other times of day. For example, on the Sunbury line the 8:28pm train from the city is usually full every night with passengers standing, being the service following the first 30 minute gap, but the loading tends to drop off faster so the service is quiet after St Albans, and completely dead after Watergardens. At other times of day a train with a similar loading would still have 100 people on it to the terminus.
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Re: 2017 review of Public Transport: Victoria

Postby JRBUS123 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:45 pm

Mitch wrote:Great post, JRBUS123!

When you say Dyson's took over Wodonga, do you mean the Corowa-Albury route? Dyson's have had Wodonga/Albury for years! :lol:

Mitch :lol:

Thanks Mitch, just fixed that error up. Yes that's exactly what I meant
Cheers, JRBUS123 :)
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