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Around the world, every week, with empty ACTION buses

By johnboy - 14 April 2012 23

The Liberals’ Alistair Coe is giving Chief Minister Gallagher a kick over dead running by ACTION buses and the lack of answers to how bad the problem currently is:

The Canberra Liberals lodged a question on notice on 23 February 2012 seeking information about the $120 million bus service. The answer was meant to be returned by 20 March but still has not been received.

In 2010, the Canberra Liberals obtained data showing that ACTION buses travel more than 69,000 kilometres every week, costing $8 million a year, on „out of service? buses with no passengers.

“If the 2012 data is ever released, I hope it will show considerable improvements in the efficiency of the network,” Mr Coe said.

“The most recent information we have shows that every four days. ACTION buses are running on empty around the distance of the equator.

“The fact that the ACT Labor Government has not released the data implies that the news is once again not acceptable.

Now, accepting that as long as we have buses there will be some degree of dead running, how much is OK and how do we get down to that number?

What’s Your opinion?


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Around the world, every week, with empty ACTION buses
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sien 5:43 pm 15 Apr 12

gasman said :

At the moment, people who rarely drive cars for commuting are heavily subsidising those who do. Our taxes pay for the public land around the Lake converted to car parking. Our taxes pay for the $250+ million cost of the Gunghalin Drive. Our taxes paid for the $41 million car park at The Canberra Hospital (at $30,000 per car space), money that could have been spent on hiring nurses and opening hospital beds.

This is wrong. In 2009 Australia collected about 16Bn in fuel excise and spent 5Bn on roads. Even with other spending on parking cars make a significant net contribution to government revenue. This document has the figures.

http://www.mynrma.com.au/images/About-PDF/T3-2080_roadmapR2.pdf

In addition cars are used vastly more than other forms of transport in Australia. From the same report 74% use cars regularly, 12% public transport and 2% cycle.

Car users in fact subsidies the rest of the community in most developed countries with the US is the big exception, their fuel taxes are too low. Car users pay for car injuries through insurance. Trucks make a massive contribution to economic growth. No modern country would function without them.

If all you have experienced is Canberra’s (or Sydney’s) public transport system, you may be forgiven for thinking that public transport can never be good. However, there are cities that have made it work well, by investing a relatively small amount of money.

We don’t lack a critical mass of population, just a critical mass of political thought.

Can you provide an example of a city with Canberra’s population density that has a good public transport system?

You want to look up farebox recovery ratio and see how except for some massive, very dense Asian cities most places lose money on public transport:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio

The big change that is coming in transportation is vehicles that can drive themselves. This will alter the way cars are used and owned. Currently owning a car is an expensive proposition. WIth depreciation, fuel costs, repair costs, insurance costs and parking it’s hard to own a car for less than about 2-3K a year. Even people who drive to and from work only use their car say, about 1 hour out of every 24 and often pay to keep it somewhere.

If you could get a car whereever you were in Canberra in say, 5 minutes and it would drive you where ever you wanted to go for, say, a quarter of the price of a taxis now it could make sense to get rid of your car. This may well be the reality in 5-10 years.

A bus driver costs about 100K a year when pension payments, office space, training and everything else is included. 100K should be about what a self-driving system costs that can run for years and years.

Here is Sebastian Thrun, one of the world’s foremost experts on when self-driving cars will be available to buy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5JruTeNg7s

Look up Google’s self-driving car and the DARPA challenge for more on this.

It’s also worth noting that Rio Tinto in Australia currently have the world’s largest fleet of self-driving trucks:

http://www.fool.com.au/2011/11/investing/driverless-trucks-to-drive-rio-tintos-profits/

gasman 9:24 am 15 Apr 12

c_c said :

Talk of screwing people on pay parking to push them onto public transport sounds like something from the Warsaw Pact and is moronic.

Thank you for your cogent and incisively reasoned argument. The Warsaw Pact was a defence treaty – not sure why you think it it relates to public transport. Calling something moronic without counter-arguments is childish.

Nobody is trying to force anyone into public transport. I’m suggesting that public money could be more effectively spent by diverting some of the money away from cars and directing it to more community friendly approaches, such as a more effective public transport system.

At the moment, people who rarely drive cars for commuting are heavily subsidising those who do. Our taxes pay for the public land around the Lake converted to car parking. Our taxes pay for the $250+ million cost of the Gunghalin Drive. Our taxes paid for the $41 million car park at The Canberra Hospital (at $30,000 per car space), money that could have been spent on hiring nurses and opening hospital beds.

Just the GDE and Canberra Hospital car park has cost each Canberra household $3000 ($300 million divided by 100K households). We all pay so you can have the convenience and indulgence of driving your 1500kg car, alone, to a very valuable piece of real estate where you car sits all day.

Many other cities around the world have discovered that you can’t just keep shoving more and more cars into a city. They are changing their policies – decreased car use and better public transport. Some of the best public transport system I have come across are in cities that were previously car-centric. Its cheap, its clean, its efficient, and everybody uses it, students, families, workers, rich and poor. It brings communities together.

If all you have experienced is Canberra’s (or Sydney’s) public transport system, you may be forgiven for thinking that public transport can never be good. However, there are cities that have made it work well, by investing a relatively small amount of money.

We don’t lack a critical mass of population, just a critical mass of political thought.

miz 8:49 am 15 Apr 12

There could possibly be some gains to be made from current dead running – eg, a bus goes past the Zoo every day – empty -presumably to the Belco depot. Why is there no bus to the Zoo (except, daftly, in ACT school hols)?
My daughter noticed this while doing work experience there.

It is more of a problem to me that normal route buses on the weekends are always empty because the timetable is so sh!t.

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