Darwin Articulated Buses

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T3331
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Darwin Articulated Buses

Post by T3331 »

Two Scania artics came down to Adelaide a few years ago, I am wondering if they were the only artics that operated in Darwin.

Is there any chance Darwin will get some more articulated buses?

Any other comments?
Merc1107
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Re: Darwin Articulated Buses

Post by Merc1107 »

At one point the Darwinbus fleet was made up of nearly one-third artics. Over time, the artic fleet in Darwin has included a Leyland demonstrator, MAN SG220H, Volvo B10s {incl. a coupe of Fujis at one point} and eventually the Scania L94s.

There are presently three ex. Darwin L94UAs in Adelaide: 115, 116 and 121. In Adelaide, they are numbered 1361, 1362 and 1370, respectively. I am not sure how many are active in any capacity at present; a friend has reported varying combinations of the three being sent out on driver training of late.
A fourth L94UA, 122 (my personal favourite), was in operation in Darwin until Territory Transit handed over their operation to CDC a couple of months ago. I am yet to confirm its whereabouts - it is still registered in the NT (along with B10BLE 118 & B12BLE 120, for those who are interested). It's possible these units are hiding in Katherine given TT run school buses there.

The folklore among staff who have been around for a while is that "Scanias don't work in Australia", that is to say, the four artics were allegedly beset with overheating issues. Considering L94s have operated in several other Australian cities that get as hot as (if not considerably hotter than) Darwin, I imagine there must be more to it than this.

The relatively messy timetables in Darwin right now preclude artics being particularly useful, but the loadings on the major routes (4, 8, 9, 10, 12), plus the school routes (of which some services are quintuple-banked...) could certainly justify their usage, if only to reduce the number of vehicles required to run peak service.

Unfortunately there a couple of issues hindering utilisation of artics going forward.
Firstly, the predominant users of Darwinbus are captive to the bus service, and their travel patterns are quite erratic; that is is to say, a departure on a particular service may be close to full on one day, and nearly empty the next. This would make it difficult to tailor a service to balance crowding against frequency and vehicle type.
Secondly, the reconfiguration of the outbound "Woolworths" bus stop on Cavenagh St, done to accommodate the "new" Garramilla Blvd intersecting Cavenagh St at Darwin Woolworths has reduced stand space from three buses, to two (with something of a "staging area" a bit further back towards Bennett St). There is simply no longer room for an artic to work within the space available - assuming an artic made it to the lead stop, it would obstruct the second stand, which would then obstruct the access to Woolworths carpark. The situation in peak at Darwin Interchange, and the two stops on Cavenagh St, can only be described as utterly shambolic, in spite of superficial attempts by NTG to fix service bunching. It's quite obvious the bus network in Darwin is not taken seriously as an alternative to the car, as evidenced by the woefully inconsistent timetables, inconsistent levels of services (express, limited-stop and all-stop), almost non-existence of connectivity between trunk and feeder services and stop infrastructure in varying states of decay (outdated timetables, dirty, lack of shelter and anti-social behaviour).

I will close by saying it is nothing short of a miracle the network has a small, but defiant, group of faithful commuters (and staff) who somehow endure the full "Darwinbus Experience" on a daily basis. Perhaps with CDC running the network now, things are set to change. We can only watch and wait.
Merc1107
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Re: Darwin Articulated Buses

Post by Merc1107 »

Lt. Commander Data wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 12:42 pm Ex-Darwin L94UA #122 has been sighted in St Agnes depot
Make that four ex. Darwin articulated buses now in Adelaide.
Merc1107 wrote: Sat Aug 27, 2022 9:53 pm The relatively messy timetables in Darwin right now preclude artics being particularly useful, but the loadings on the major routes (4, 8, 9, 10, 12), plus the school routes (of which some services are quintuple-banked...) could certainly justify their usage, if only to reduce the number of vehicles required to run peak service.
Expanding on what I've already written, here one examples where there would probably be some benefit to artic usage
Darwin High:
Note: A series of services also commence at the adjacent Darwin Middle School, stop at Darwin HS and continue. Some Darwin HS runs also service the Middle School. Only the services commencing at the High School at 1435hrs are considered here
  • 50a-50d: Darwin High to Casuarina Interchange (50A/B are express, 50C is all stops, 50D is via the Middle School)
  • 53a-53b: Darwin High to Nightcliff (Ryland Rd/Trower Rd intersection) via Harney St, Ludmilla
  • 58a-58b: Darwin High to Palmerston via Stuart Hwy
  • 32: Darwin High to Darwin City via Larrakeyah & Mitchell St
  • 104: Darwin High to Leanyer (Leanyer Dr/Vanderlin Dr) - more direct variant of the 53, and continues via parts of what is more or less the public routes 1 & 2, and likely services a number of other schools enroute
  • 203: Darwin High to Karama (Moray St/McMillans Rd) - a combination of urban routes 10, 11, 3 (I think), 12/25
Certainly the 50, 53 and 58 are candidates for a significant consolidation in service, and the other marathon runs (104 & 203) would ideally be made into schooldays-only trips on the urban routes, and students asked to catch the 50, changing buses at Casuarina ... but that would probably be very unpopular (many students do make use of urban buses for part of their journeys, so maybe it wouldn't be such an issue). While Darwin High is an extreme example, there are many instances across the city where you have two or three rigid buses doing school work that could be consolidated if there were artics available.

CDC have indicated they're looking at deploying Hybrids in the next few years, however, and I'm not sure what their track record is elsewhere with high-capacity vehicles. Now that CDC have exclusive operation of the Darwin network, it likely makes these sorts of changes much easier to implement (i.e. it won't affect another operator who might lose services as a result of service consolidation), and with any luck, they're being planned as we speak.
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