4 July 2008

Government Making Sense - World Soon to End

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In a rare display of inspired common sense, the Stanhope Utopian Committee is apparently considering the notion of allowing Canberrans to ride the bus for free.

The ABC, as always, has more.

Fingers crossed.

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Re # 18 “dishonest” in calculating real costs car-v-bus??

The comparison is money out of the wallet each day/week, not the deeply self-serving retoric of the likes of NRMA who include depreciation in the ‘real’ running costs of a car. Bullsite. That is like calling the capital gain value on a house you bought cheap years ago ‘profit’ or money in the hand. You keep the house there is NO extra money Bullshite. Depreciation is something you have to wear and ‘pay emotionally and mentally’ at purchase. if you keep the car ‘forever’ then there is no lost value! Real cost is what comes out of the wallet.

Gungahlin Al3:54 pm 07 Jul 08

“In peak period, buses are packed now. Make them free, and you’ll have chaos.”

Paperboy your argument is deeply flawed. Yes if you made it free tomorrow without planning and a build-up of infrastructure and staff it would be. But no matter what you think of the government, they would not be stupid enough to do that.

100 new buses? About $50 million. Add staff and everything else…still chicken feed next to the road and parking construction and other savings that taking the resulting thousands of cars off the road that would flow from it.

And add in the massive dint on greenhouse emissions to boot.

You have to remember that – like sewer and water pipes – you can’t design roads for average daily flows. You have to design them for peaks. And in Canberra the sheer volume of office workers means that an otherwise fantastic road network is completely clogged during the extraordinary peaks. A better public transport system would target those peaks as the highest priority.

Hence all of my previous discussion about hub-and-spoke solutions, which I note you’ve slid right on by…

Don’t forget the insurance and registration costs of your car too. Round figures $500 per year for rego and another $500 for insurance, you’re looking at an extra $20 per week on top of your car costs which makes it neatly on par with bus travel at $200 per month.
That’s only if you get rid of your second car entirely though. What about the costs of paying off the car’s $19,000 purchase price too?

As I said in Norvan Vogt’s carbon trading thread, it’s not the bus fare that keeps me off buses, it’s the extra time that riding a bus costs me. If I can’t get to work or wherever on time or at a reasonable time, then the extra cost of driving a car becomes worthwhile.

Make buses roughly equivalent to driving a car in terms of my time, and I’ll start catching buses more.


After some research and contacting various places it would appear that the car is not only cheaper but also has better emissions.

The accepted average CO2 emissions for a new diesel bus is around 85-95g/km per person provided that the bus is full.

The emissions for my car is 52g/km per person with 3 people in the car.

Another win to my car.

Morgan said :

How would it cost you that amount to catch the bus when a monthly bus ticket is $80?

OK so lets work on that amount. It would still cost about $200 for the family per month as opposed to $120-140 in the car.

Depreciation on that car in minimal which was one of the reasons I bought it rather than a Holden or VW. I bought it outright which negates the loan costs.

Servicing and maintenance costs me nothing since I can do it at work. Tyres are insignificant due to where I work.

I am still looking for emmissions figures for a bus but I reckon it would be a close battle between the car and the bus in regards to what produces the most pollution per person.

Unfortunatly for the hippys there is a huge case for the car ofver the bus, just make sure you pick the right car and travel in groups.

skaboy12 said :

It would cost me $79.20 to catch the bus to work for two weeks. It would also take approx 23 hours to make the trip. When you add my wife and son that figure becomes $198 roughly.

How would it cost you that amount to catch the bus when a monthly bus ticket is $80?

Can anyone give me a reason why I should give up the cmfort and freedom of my car for a bus???

You missed out maintenance of your vehicle, and the biggest cost of owning a car – depreciation. Doesn’t give you your time back, but your comparison is a little dishonest.

Of course if you ride the bus, you can work (laptop, 3g internet, mobile phone), which you can’t really do while driving.

Um… unless you’re a brickie, or something.

paperboy said :

Of course if the bus travel was free…

Then you take into account what my time is worth. Based on my income after tax the comparison per day looks like this:

Bus: Costs about $84.60 of my time
Car: Costs about $28.20 of my time

Of course if the bus travel was free…

Everyone keeps saying that it is cheaper on the bus, however I just did some math and made a startling discovery.

I would have to cram into a full bus, then get off to drop my son off and my wife would also need to catch the bus.

It would cost me $79.20 to catch the bus to work for two weeks. It would also take approx 23 hours to make the trip. When you add my wife and son that figure becomes $198 roughly.

I currently drive a Ford Fiesta Zetec to work (rather than my fuel thirsty AWD which stays in the showroom at work). It will fit my family for a trip to Sydney, and get us there or to Taree in comfort with all our luggage.

I have to fill the tank approx every 2-2.5 weeks (and I drive it like it stolen, but still uses bugger all fuel) and it costs $60-70 dollars. It takes roughly 20 minutes each way to get to or from work via childcare and my wifes work. Total time in 2 weeks equals 8 hours(based on my 6 day working week).

So if you figure it out in daily figures it looks like this:
Bus – $16.50 and almost 2 hours
Car – $5.80 and 40 minutes

Can anyone give me a reason why I should give up the cmfort and freedom of my car for a bus???

A free bus service is nothing but simplistic pre-election nonsense.

In peak period, buses are packed now. Make them free, and you’ll have chaos.

It will take one day of free travel for people to realise they can’t get on a bus between 7 and 9am and between 5 and 6pm, before they return to their cars (or bikes or whatever).

Canberra would need another 100 buses for free travel to work, and to get passengers where they WANT to go, rather than where ACTION is prepared to take them, and neither is likely in our lifetime. They’re having enough trouble getting drivers for weekend shifts!!

Gungahlin Al12:33 pm 05 Jul 08

Whatsup, there would certainly need to be a LOT more buses. But the savings in unneeded or deferred road construction work would more than offset the costs I am sure.

Last year I participated in a on-air workshop on 666 on just this topic, and the idea received a lot of support.

On being able to get where you need to go, there is a line that is constantly spun around public transport in Canberra – that it isn’t well designed for PT and better suits cars. Well it’s bollocks!

Canberra was built around the satellite city concept, and I’d contend that it is no more spread out than other cities – particularly ones like Perth, which now has a superb PT system.

The problem we have is that the entire network is based around the premise that people don’t like changing services, and therefore every service has to (eventually) go to Civic. But people have been trained into that attitude because of the paucity of services.

The solution is a hub and spoke network, which would work sweetly with the satellite city layout.

Suburban wanderer buses (potentially smaller vehicles) go around the streets and drop people at the nearest town centre or park-n-ride. Express services just do the high speed shuttle run between the town centre and Civic, with perhaps a couple of park-n-ride stops along the way only. And (for northside services) they don’t all stop at every damn stop down Northbourne Ave in a stupid conga line of 5 or 6 buses. Of course the logical extension of this is that the express services are handled by dedicated light rail (or monorail or whatever – I personally love the idea of monorail down through the trees along Northbourne, but anyone who ever raises monorails is always branded a looney for some reason). The frequency of these express services would mean little or no waiting on changeover, and people would quickly retrain to switching services.

If this approach were to be adopted, we’d probably have enough of the larger buses, and instead of spending $half million on each of them, could get lots of those 20-seat Benzes at half or less the price for the suburban collector runs.

But it would take vision from the ACT Government. We simply haven’t seen that vision to date.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this musing from Jon Stanhope is a glimmer of the sort of vision that could see such a service come into being…?

Two thoughts,

1) It is an election year so this type of suggestion should be expected.
2) Can you fit more free passengers in a crowded bus than paying ones ? Some bus routes are packed at peak times now, more or bigger buses might be nice.

Yes, WMC.. But would you go anywhere?

Woody Mann-Caruso6:45 pm 04 Jul 08

I’d ride the bus every day if it was free.

Is this an election year by any chance???

The gold cards for 75 year olds are a good start. Free travel for school students should be the next step. Then start replacing the fleet – get rid of the old 50 seater diesels for 20 seater hybrids. It will be expensive initially, but definitely greener.

yeah, makes it hard for me to visit my clients when i factor in the bus timetable, rather have my car.

Stanhope will consider any notion with the word “free” in it this close to an election I would think. I also don’t think that a change in bus patronage rates would equate to a change in price. Canberra’s design/layout just doesn’t lend itself to a bus service that is going to be convenient enough in ‘today’s fast paced society’. It wouldn’t matter if a bus came past my place every 5 minutes, it still wouldn’t make it worth to me as I have to get about town for work and need the ability to go other places on short notice that aren’t necessarily in-line with the bus routes.

I don’t think this makes sense at all, actually.

First, I don’t think price is the reason people don’t catch the bus to work. It’s already much cheaper than paying for petrol and then parking (at least it definitely is in Civic). If it was purely economic, people would all catch the bus into Civic, yet many don’t and probably never will.

Second, even if price is a significant factor, petrol prices are doing their best to make driving your own car less attractive. If it’s all down to price, and bus fares remain constant, as the price of petrol goes up more people will be catching buses. This might be happening. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t caught a bus since I went on maternity leave nine months ago. If it is already happening, he’s even more nuts as the price mechanism is working just fine.

I think they’d be giving up revenue for a puny little increase in bus patronage which just wouldn’t be worth it. Their expenses will already be going up with the cost of petrol. Whacking the revenue down to zero… They’ll go broke. Which schools would they close to pay for it?

In short: If price is the main consideration, petrol prices are already taking care of it. If price is not the main consideration, this will have no effect and give up revenue for nothing. Not one of his better ideas.

isn’t that like public consultation?

“considering the notion” is probably about as far as it will go too.

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