I agree with all the comments that evolve around the 950. It is definitely great that such an initiative has seen promising results within months of being introduced. Many services that have been revamped or introduced have not had increases in patronage so rapidly in such a short period of time.
It is unfortunate that the current quantity of artics in the Perth metro fleet is not enough to be able to allocate to specific routes without compromising their need on specific trips
and without any substantial increase in the percentage of the fleet which is articulated, I doubt it will be able to happen as well as it can with some routes in Sydney which are 100% articulated operated, or even routes operated by the 14.5m tri-axle buses which are often dedicated to selected routes too based on demand. I can see that some effort has been made in Perth, especially since the B12 artics have arrived with the incentive to not feel so "restrictive" like they were with the older ones which weren't wheelchair accessible. 170/6/7/9 services, 400/8s and 920s for example plus the occasional Alexander Dr service or route 60. But due to the lack of artics and hence the low guarantee of artics on particular routes, services aren't able to be timetabled as such to account for using an artic, which has meant that there are select routes which may have a really high frequency peak service where every second bus may be almost empty due to traffic conditions and bunching while another one has a full load.
I think that there is merit for 7 day full time articulated bus services on selected routes, there are also those where it would be ideal, but not achievable. E.g. Route 37 as far as I'm aware for any trips leaving Kings Park aren't able to use artics due to the roundabout at the end of Fraser Ave which can cause issues when there is heavy traffic. A rigid can't even squeeze into the middle to turn, let alone an artic. There are a few other routes with similar circumstances.
102 at 1625
raises a good point about high capacity (articulated) vs high frequency (rigid) bus services. In Europe, quite a few cities timetable the frequency of the services evolving around the type of bus that will be used on the service (rather than the timetable being set, and the buses fitting around to meet that schedule). So quite often you find with selected routes which may only operate every 20 minutes, these will only ever be operated by articulated (or double deckers sometimes as the case in Berlin) buses whereas you will find with other routes, the frequency may be every 10 or 15 minutes and it always will be operated by a rigid bus.
Unfortunately due to the differing cultural attitude to PT usage in Australia, this is not so effective as one of the big cons that people associate with public transport use is travel time (which includes the time you have to wait for a bus or how you have to plan your day's activities around a timetable). There is still an acceptable frequency level that I think people will wait. E.g. Many people would not be too bothered to have to wait an average of 5 mins (or a maximum of 10 mins) for a bus to show up. If this level can be achieved using rigid buses, then it could well be more efficient enough to justify the use of articulated buses at this frequency in the future. You can only increase the frequency of a bus service to an extent, it is even more limited without proper bus priority infrastructure to support it. So rather than have buses running every 2-3 mins and constantly bunching up, an articulated bus running every 5 mins which can still maintain the capacity of two rigid buses could be worthwhile. It may even be more efficient because there are less drivers (and less buses) required to operate the service.
So you will have cases where existing services such as the 60 (which now run every 5 mins or less during part of the peak and every 15 mins off peak) could justify running every 10 minutes all day with articulated buses. Likewise with Alexander Dr and Flinders St-Mirrabooka, although I think to maintain capacity, you would need to run at at least every 5 minutes with artics during peak periods and every 10 mins off peak.
The CircleRoute is an interesting one. There are numerous double banks that are operated as as a result of one bus not being able to provide the capacity needed for a particular trip. This only occurs on some sections of the route at different times of the day. There is quite often a lot of dead running associated with some of these double banks too as they can end up being out of a bus operator's normal operating area. Many of these full Circles could be operated by artics while maintaining the same frequency and reducing the need to provide double banks at particular sections of the trip.
There are routes such as the 483/484 mentioned by perthbus
. While these could justify running at a higher frequency, because of the nature of the service and the intention to connect with every train (which runs every 15 mins currently), running a bus more frequently would not provide as many benefits (most users of the service are to connect with the train and there wouldn't be enough to justify trips that don't connect with the train). Articulated buses could be the answer here (or an increase in train frequency - which is needed at times of the day anyway).
Some could say the same should apply for the new 990 service, however the nature of the service results in passengers being attracted along many points of the route. Also the current timetabling of the service means that the short journey (terminating at Glendalough) services will always connect with a train while the full length trips don't connect, but continue on to the City anyway. So in that respect it is easier to manage running a connecting bus service that is running more frequently than the train, because there is a catchment of passengers at more locations than just Glendalough train station.
As has been mentioned above, there are other reasons why artics may or may not be justified on some trips, or due to physical constraints. For example Route 37. It runs at quite a high frequency and if there weren't limitations on some roads, could justify running artics at a 10 minute frequency all day (current peak period service is every 5 minutes, off peak every 10 minutes). For these routes, in the future they will obviously have to run more frequently using rigid buses to cater for the capacity.
For another viewpoint, the 40 service to the Airport may only operate every 30 minutes, but I can see better justification for prioritising higher capacity over frequency on this route. Naturally, the overall capacity of a bus will be slightly less anyway because many passengers would be carrying luggage. In a rigid bus, this can drastically reduce capacity, especially with Low Entry buses with steps (people are reluctant to stand on steps that far back, particularly with luggage, but can also be reluctant to leave their luggage in the luggage area and move up or to sit down). Articulated buses in length comparison may not provide as many seats as a rigid bus, but they can provide the capacity needed with a mixture of seating and standing. The Airport is not that far from the City, so some seating could be sacrificed anyway.
There are other ways where the efficiency and reliability of a bus service can be improved on, aside from tinkering with bus frequencies and capacity. Bus priority infrastructure, better internal layout of buses (including additional door(s) to reduce dwell times at bus stops thus providing a quicker journey time) and specific buses suitable for specific routes, but this then becomes a problem operationally where the flexibility of a fleet of buses is reduced due to their requirements to be on specific routes. But I guess the negatives need to be weighed up with what benefits could potentially be achieved. Such ideas that could work (or not work) on the 950 or any other route in the future.
I am interested to see what night time patronage is on the 950 service. It could well be the key to encourage the introduction of later services including services after midnight and running through into the morning. It is also mentioned that Morley-Shenton Park is part of a strategic corridor outlined in the Public Transport Plan for Perth in 2031. It would be interesting to see whether the 950 could extend to Shenton Park to fulfil this. It would certainly increase the amount of non-CBD centric trips and improve the patronage of the service throughout most of a trip rather than at a couple of busy points such as the CBD and UWA. Having a bus that is carrying good loads the entire journey (rather than just a small section) could better justify increases in frequency.
I apologise for such a long post... If you have read through the entire lot, thanks and congratulations! I will jump back into the cave now!