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Ideas for ACTION?

By 12 September 2010 21

Piratemonkey made the below suggestions as a comment but I thought it warranted wider consideration:

Solving the teenager and pensioner problem is simple. Once the system has been in place for 6 months cash fares become 5 bucks no matter what, with no pensioner or student discounts availible. Then no one can mess with coins and there is a good incentive to look into the card.

To get a student or pensioner discount people will need to use the swipe card. Pensioners should be issued the card free if they ask for it and teenagers can simply learn. It will not take long once the system is in. During the implemetation everyone with who asks for a pensioner/student fare can be issued with a flyer explaning what is coming.

I just hope the stupid ACT government would extend the card to being able to also pay for parking at the outer town centres when being used in a “Park and ride” type scenario.

Hell put the system in taxis as well and it can be the comlete flexible canberra travel solution. Therefore saving my precious change for important things like coffee and fundraiser chocolates. Oh and if action is listening i will pay a $20 premium if i can pick the design on my card.

Any other ideas?

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21 Responses to Ideas for ACTION?
#1
shaneb5:07 pm, 12 Sep 10

At sub $1000 per annual pass I wonder if this system would be popular with employers as a fringe benefit, especially those employers who are having trouble with staff parking. The passes could then be printed with the companies design. ACTION would benefit from the purchase and then inevitable lack of use of these cards by some employers. The government/greens could claim it as part of their greenhouse gas reduction program. Since selling off most car parks in civic perhaps the ACT government could also gainfully include it in it’s negotiation with the public service union whenever the current agreement expires.

#2
Aenveigh5:49 pm, 12 Sep 10

If they’re looking to speed up boardings/alightings, I’ve never figured out why the don’t use both the front and rear doors except at interchanges. A lot of stops would be quicker if they used rear for exit, front/rear for boarding or exit. Pretty much every other city seems to manage that ‘complication’ just fine.

One very useful feature in some cities is multicoloured LED route number signs on the buses, so all Belco buses might be numbered in green LEDs, all Woden in orange, purple for Redex, or whatever. Great for streets when many routes overlap, lets you know while sprinting towards the stop if you need to keep trying to read the number or can ignore the bus. Since they seem to be buying quite a few new buses it’s the sort of component that should be easily swapped in.

The auto topup feature on the MyWay cards should be great… no more having to detour to a newsagent to get tickets. Agree with having high cash fares and cheaper card fares + autotopup… if you’re staying more than a day or two it should work out better to have a swipe card, that way pretty much everyone has one allowing spontaneous use of the system without slowing down boardings.

#3
arescarti426:05 pm, 12 Sep 10

All in all a pretty good idea. My only comment is that having a $5 fare doesn’t necessarily stop people from paying in coins (although it certainly makes it easier for them not to).

Suica, which is the transit card used in Tokyo, works in buses, taxis, and can be used for purchases from vending machines and convenience stores (among other things).

Allowing the card to be used for purposes other than bus fares would make it more attractive for infrequent bus users.

One other thing that would be excellent is if they partnered up with Mastercard or something in order to create some sort of hybrid system, that in addition to accepting ACTION RFID cards, also accepted RFID credit cards. This would save a lot of people from having to buy and carry around a new card.

#4
Hells_Bells746:19 pm, 12 Sep 10

My goodness, I shudder the thought of ever having to pay $1000 for a years worth of crap from ACTION. Or were you saying make it a grand for the fringe benefit/companies involvement or does it just cost that much?

Woe is me when the concession stops in my world.

#5
bd848:55 pm, 12 Sep 10

I believe that the reason the new cards are blue yellow and white rather than ACTION’s corporate colours is that they are eventually planned to be used on different forms of transport, including taxis. I have heard that primary through college students will start being issued with the cards free which will also be their student ID cards, I could eventually see seniors being issued something similar.

While ticketing is a problem for ACTION, it is something relatively easily fixed. ACTION has bigger problems in it being run by a bunch of clowns who no nothing about running a bus company, being stuffed into TAMS who look can’t even run their own department. But its major problem is that it has a network made in the 80s of scenic routes that go nowhere in the slowest possible way that get shuffled around every couple of years as a “major improvement”. People will use it if the Government make it worth their while and mostly comparable to the alternatives, so we have very little chance with the current government.

#6
MrPC8:55 pm, 12 Sep 10

With house prices in the ACT so high that you need two APS5+ salaries or an EL2 salary to afford a mortgage for the median house price, they’d better start running ACTION to Goulburn, Queanbeyan and Cooma if they want non-executive staff to get the bus.

($DEITY knows the executive level staff probably won’t use it)

#7
steveu7:06 am, 13 Sep 10

if families had a way of parking their cars at the school all day, and then catching the bus to work, and vice versa – I think you would find patronage go up a bit. At the moment, it is difficult for people with kids up to primary school age to catch the bus to work as more often than not they have to drive them to school. Dont forget the ACT govt closed half the public schools in the town a few years ago – so walking aint an option for these kids.
People would be driving their cars less distance, using the bus, and they wouldnt have to pay for parking (you would hope – or parkign woudl be a dollar donation to the school or something like that)

#8
sepi8:54 am, 13 Sep 10

They really need to work on some decent Park N Ride options I think.

Reducing parking in dickson is going to be a real problem. the tiny streets around Dickson are now filled with cars, which I now think are people parking all day and catching the bus from Dickson. (I was blaming all the parked cars on all the units now situated in tiny Dickson streets).

The govt’s plan to just endlessly reduce parking to force people onto buses will work much better if there is still parking in transport hubs to allow people to drive to a hub, then go on to their place of work on the bus.

I love the idea of parking at schools, but unfortunatley most schools have about 20 car spots which are filled by the teachers, and even parking to drop kids off is a nightmare.

#9
Gus92910:06 am, 13 Sep 10

Aenveigh said:
>If they’re looking to speed up boardings/alightings, I’ve never figured out why the don’t
>use both the front and rear doors except at interchanges. A lot of stops would be quicker
>if they used rear for exit, front/rear for boarding or exit. Pretty much every other city
>seems to manage that ‘complication’ just fine.

I don’t fully remember, and it was before the era of ubiquitous internet news, but I think a child was killed on ACTION in the early 90s when the bus pulled away while they were disembarking from the rear doors. Driver hadn’t noticed.

While a tragedy, the response seems out of proportion – especially (as you point out) when every other city has managed to build in enough safety interlocks and driver training to get by safely.

(The other suggestions seem thoughtful as well, all we need now is any kind of actual mandate/impetus for change & competence from inside ACTION itself, and something might happen!)

#10
Rosencrantz11:16 am, 13 Sep 10

One simple suggestion would be to forget this idea of getting on a bus near your house and getting off near your workplace/school/final destination.

I’ve heard it said before (including by ACTION) that people don’t like the idea of having to change buses halfway through a trip. Fair enough, but what it causes are the current, meandering routes through the suburbs (because you couldn’t run a bus just from one suburb through all the town centres, but you can make it work if you run through 3 suburbs first as there’s more passengers).

I’ve recently moved workplaces from Civic to Woden yet my bus commute remains the same. Why? Because I used to go from Banks, through Conder, then straight up the Monaro Highway to work. Now I go from Banks, through Conder, through Bonython, through the Tuggeranong Interchange, then up to Woden. By far the longest part of this trip is getting to Tuggeranong in the first place.

I suspect it would be quicker to run one route directly from Banks to the interchange (and another directly from Conder, one from Bonython, etc) and then just have intertown runs every few minutes to gather everyone up from interchanges.

Whether this is feasible/cost effective or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that I am now in the market for a second car…much to my disappointment, after having been a satisfied ACTION user for nearly a decade.

#11
dvaey11:25 am, 13 Sep 10

OP: Solving the teenager and pensioner problem is simple. Once the system has been in place for 6 months cash fares become 5 bucks no matter what, with no pensioner or student discounts availible.

Maybe you missed the whole point of the excercise, to INCREASE patronage, not to discourage people from using public transport. If you want to increase passenger numbers, you dont want to remove concessions and make the system harder to use. Also, pensioners such as the disabled and elderly are more likely to be using cash fares, rather than some new fandangled oyster card or mycard or whatever they want to call it today.

Aenveigh said :

If they’re looking to speed up boardings/alightings, I’ve never figured out why the don’t use both the front and rear doors except at interchanges.

One thought, other than the safety aspect raised above, is fare evasion. Its much harder for the driver to check passengers have a valid ticket at the back door. The inconvenience caused by not using the backdoors probably saves them a whole 10 fare-dodgers per day, which at $5-a-pop, theyre starting to be worth trying to catch.

#12
troll-sniffer11:26 am, 13 Sep 10

steveu said :

if families had a way of parking their cars at the school all day, and then catching the bus to work, and vice versa – I think you would find patronage go up a bit. At the moment, it is difficult for people with kids up to primary school age to catch the bus to work as more often than not they have to drive them to school. Dont forget the ACT govt closed half the public schools in the town a few years ago – so walking aint an option for these kids.
People would be driving their cars less distance, using the bus, and they wouldnt have to pay for parking (you would hope – or parkign woudl be a dollar donation to the school or something like that)

Bollocks. Kids can walk or ride from upper primary. One suburb = walking. Further = get them a bike. They’d be better off in so many ways. Unfortunately parents have been brainwashed into thinking their little darlings are not only in mortal danger on the streets but that they are also incapable of fending off or rebuking inappropriate approaches. Bollocks, they just get sucked into continual self-generating media-driven hype.

#13
sepi12:17 pm, 13 Sep 10

Back in the 80s ACTION did have a separate bus for every suburb or two, which all went to Interchanges. the 333 ran from Tuggers – woden – civic – belco iinterchanges every 5 minutes.

It was a good system, except when you wanted to go from one suburb to the next, which involved a bus all the way into the interchange, then a bus all the way back out – and the suburb busses only ran every half hour.

On the riding to school – say if they can ride to school from age 8 or 10 – that still leaves the years 1-7 requiring drop offs – and then you probably have a younger child needing drop off after that, so it doesn’t really solve the problem to say kids should ride to school.

#14
damien haas12:29 pm, 13 Sep 10

Ive said it before and i will say it again – ACTION is expected to be a local service and a mass transit service and by using the same people and vehicles to do both, it does neither terribly well. To make public transport work better (note – not ACTION) a modal shift is required. Construct light rail to work as a backbone linking major population and employment centres, and use ACTION as a high frequency local bus service delivering people to light rail nodes.

Its pretty clear the MyWay cards will be rolled out with the technology to use it to pay for other government services, parking being the most immediately obvious use. I covered this recently on my blog. http://onfourwheels.blogspot.com/2010/08/myway-rfid-ticketing-system-for-action.html

#15
trix3:01 pm, 13 Sep 10

FIVE bucks? It’s not gold-plated seating – you don’t even pay that much for a trip in London, one of the most expensive places in the world.

If you want people to use the buses, then charging such a ridiculous premium for cash is not the way to go.

I just bought one of the new electronic cards while I was in Melbourne, a place I only visit a couple of times a year. However, the convenience of it – not having to decide whether I should buy a day pass or singles or whatever – means it’s worthwhile. As is the fact I can top it up online or at one of the machines.

Sure, some of the elderly might have trouble with them, but if they can get a normal bus pass, then they should be able to manage one of these. For all other bus users, regular and occasional, then keeping one of these in your wallet will be a no-brainer. You’ll hit a critical mass of users, and then waiting a few extra seconds after 9:30am for a couple of pensioners to pay their fares is not going to be too onerous.

#16
housebound4:04 pm, 13 Sep 10

Troll-sniffer said: Bollocks. Kids can walk or ride from upper primary. One suburb = walking. Further = get them a bike.

That’s fine until it’s your kids who are assaulted on the way to school, or run-over by speeding traffic. And the littlies won’t exactly catch a flying carpet.

When you ask why so many parents drive their kids to school, in some parts of town you can just thank Mr Barr for closing the schools the kids did once walk to.

#17
p14:10 pm, 13 Sep 10

dvaey said :

Maybe you missed the whole point of the excercise, to INCREASE patronage, not to discourage people from using public transport. If you want to increase passenger numbers, you dont want to remove concessions and make the system harder to use. Also, pensioners such as the disabled and elderly are more likely to be using cash fares, rather than some new fandangled oyster card or mycard or whatever they want to call it today.

I think the suggestion was aimed at discouraging paying with cash, not discourage using the bus. The OP never said it was a perfect suggestion.

As someone else has suggested, including this sort of RFID tag in all Student IDs, Pensioner Concession Cards, etc would be the perfect approach. It means one less card to carry, and it wouldn’t matter if the cash fair didn’t allow a concession rate, because if you are paying cash, you obviously don’t have your concession card with you…

Would also be nice if the option to use a pre existing RFID Card (as others have stated). I suspect a third of the population already have a ID pass, credit card, or something else in their wallet (or on their keyring) which already has the necessary technology.

#18
Skidbladnir4:52 pm, 13 Sep 10

p1 said :

Would also be nice if the option to use a pre existing RFID Card (as others have stated). I suspect a third of the population already have a ID pass, credit card, or something else in their wallet (or on their keyring) which already has the necessary technology.

While also being extremely trackable. Depends on just how much information is being stored and quarantined, I guess…

Also, anyone want to wager on how long it takes for ANU CompSci students to break the keys on the card system?

#19
p15:25 pm, 13 Sep 10

Skidbladnir said :

While also being extremely trackable. Depends on just how much information is being stored and quarantined, I guess…

Well, yes. But if you have it set up to direct debit, it’s pretty damn trackable anyway.

Skidbladnir said :

Also, anyone want to wager on how long it takes for ANU CompSci students to break the keys on the card system?

The trick would be cracking it, then cloning someone with a good credit rating.

#20
Aenveigh8:55 pm, 13 Sep 10

Why not incorporate the chip into the ACT driver’s licence? That should cover 75% of the populations, and seniors, schoolkids etc have their own cards. I guess the privacy issues comes into play but is it so different to mobile phones etc?

@Damien Haas; you don’t neccessarily need light rail to provide the ‘core’ routes – could just as easily be done with buses. What matters is the service permanence, service span, and frequency. The ACT govt is making progress towards defining these ‘mass transit’ services, versus the ‘coverage’ (suburban excursion) social-service routes. See http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/173401/STAP_Progress_30Nov09.pdf for the current state of play, there’s plenty more around on the TAMS wbsite, and it all seems pretty sensible.

#21
sepi9:27 pm, 13 Sep 10

I like the idea of coloured buses or at least coloured signs on the front. School buses for a start could be a different colour, so you know if that bus disappearing off into the distance is your bus, or just a school bus.

Signs for buses going north could be one colour, those going south could be another – this would stop people hopping on ‘their’ bus at an interchange, only to find it is going in the wrong direction.

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