9 October 2005

Ideas for public transport [The SGS Transport manifesto]

| Samuel Gordon-Stewart
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Please forgive this little self-indulgence…I am just trying to extend my ego by getting my public transport ideas published in as many places as possible, and to be seen by as many people as possible.

My Ideas:
Light Rail going directly between town centres (IE. Gungahlin to Belconnen, Gungahlin to Civic, Gungahlin to Woden, Gungahlin to Tuggeranong, Belconnen to Civic, Belconnen to Woden, Belconnen to Tuggeranong, Civic to Woden, Civic to Tuggeranong, Woden to Tuggeranong and vice versa on each). This would be a high speed and quick service which would be expandable in the future and would be much quicker than current car transport and bus transport.

Trams travelling around town centres. Town Centres tend to be fairly large, they can be walked through, but it takes time, time which could be saved by having a low-medium speed tram service through the town centres, this would ease the problem of people getting off the bus/train at an interchange twenty minutes walk from their office on a rainy day.

Local Area Buses: Firstly, scrap Flexibus, buses are not taxis, taxis are, let it be. Then, buses going directly between a suburb and the town centre (so Braddon to Civic, Banks to Tuggeranong etc), these buses would go through most streets in the suburb, which would provide convenience to the commuter, and then go straight to the town centre…no more waiting through an archaic array of other suburbs.

I would also have area buses which would go from a town centre, through the main streets of a number of suburbs and then to a town centre (either the one it started at, or another one if the suburb is halfwayish between the two centres).

I would also release a mandate that the bus timetables be designed to get people to their destinations quickly, rather than sometime next week as tends to be the case at the moment. Why ACTION insist on timetables that get buses travelling at 30km/h is beyond me.

Naturally I would have combined areas for the bus/train/tram interchanges, this would make it much easier to use the services, I’m sure some planners would make sure these various centres are a long way apart, but that would defeat the purpose of useful and efficient public transport.

I would also ensure that all services use the same tickets.

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Local Government (I omitted the person responsible after 5 wines) over to you…

Please explain why as our representatives such plans weren’t made during your ‘reign’ to enforce the Canberra City Council’s busses being allowed to go to the airport ?

I’m sure I’ve seen action busses in RMC before, and they have a policy that all roads are public, so I’m quite sure there’s no defence issues involved…

I’ve heard that ACtion are barred from running a service to the airport, as the airport can charge whatever ‘entry fee’ they like to the busses.

Back to the public transport. I think one of the main things ACTION does wrong is changing the swystem every five minutes. In Melbourne I stilol know which tram to catch and I haven’t lived there for 20 years. I catch busses infrequently, and every time I have to look up which one, and download a new timetable and find out the current pricing structure.
I think the area busses are good, but they should be purely ‘outbound’ services. Picking poeple up is impractical.
I actually find Canberra busses better than they were about a decade ago (which isn’t saying much). And my particular bus route is almost always packed and standing room only. I think they need a few more busses.
I read a Swiss study once that said people didn’t actually care how long the bus/tram took once they were on it, what bothered them was waiting around at bustops for services. I think I agree with that – within reason.

Only because ACTION couldn’t be arsed running a service out there.

Yes, but it’s run by a separate mob to Action, is several times more expensive than their fares, and has a timetable that’s even less useful than Action’s. The Airport monopoly strikes again…

Can you get a bus to the airport on weekdays ?

blingblingbears12:40 pm 10 Oct 05

I agree that most buses are already underused but that is because their services are crappy (i.e. late, overpriced, slow, and do not go 24 hrs a day suach as the rail in Sydney).

Another thing that really shits me is that you cant get a bus to the airport on weekends.

Also people who sit on their butts and accept things the way they are – that is slack! If you are not happy with something, then act to help fix the problem or even discuss ways in which the problem can be solved.

Thanks for voicing your ideas SGS! 🙂

sgs – excellent ideas.

i think you need to consider major employment centres also. lightrail from tuggeranong via parlt house or barton or russell or qbn via russell or parlt house etc or a combination. the first link should be gungahlin town centre to civic.

im not sure if trams in city centres woudl work, but if you are passing your lightrail system through teh town centres, where they would link with area buses, it could work if there were 4 or 5 small stops.

the major cost is the initial infrastructure. yes it woudl cost, but if the govt are willing to spend on a concrete busway that has invisible advantages (cos noone i know can understand them) i dont see the economic argument being used against light rail investment.

I think the light rail between city centres and the idea of local area buses are both good ones.

I don’t, however, think trams within the city centres would be all that viable. Our city centres just aren’t that big.

You can walk from one side of Civic to the other in 10-15 minutes, maybe longer if you amble gently. And the bus interchange is currently in the centre of the city, so I don’t know where people are working if they’re taking 20 mins tog et from there to their offices.

Some admirable ideas SGS – hopefully one day the tax base in the ACT will be able to support the ‘project’ financially.

Then again, the money being porkbarrelled, oops, poured into a busaway could be better spent on multi-functional modes of transport that would be further reaching and utilising all the major arterial road networks.

An unpopular yet very effective way to generate the $$$ would be to inflict a series of tolls on all road users (collected via an e-tag). A modest ‘fee’ could be charged at an annual rate and the tagging system would also be a very effective tool in monitoring road use in Canberra, thereby directing the $$$ into the roads most heavily used and/or encouraging further public transport use at the same time.

I know it sounds a bit big-brotherish, but an Oyster Card system would be a more effective way in charging patrons for the use of public transport and as an incentive should offer reduced fare structures for increased use by an individual and will obviously assist in time table structuring through the monitoring of patron use of particular routes.

We have a fairly static growth rate in Canberra, so this reality would surely place govt’s in the position of having to bite some bullets – some form of tolling system and perhaps even some further incentive scheme for public servants (who afterall generally work in the major town centres) to catch public transport.

Nate, I don’t see you ‘flying’ with your suggestions on how to improve the transport situation within Canberra, and SGS has some pretty good ideas in there.

If you’re so concerned about the avaliable money, bear in mind that the Canberra City Council (who like to call themselves the Legislative Assembly) currently have $47million dollars floating around waiting on a good thing to spend it on.

SGS, I like the light rail idea, if they put in the larger infrastructure first (ie Belconnen to Civic), the lesser suburbs will follow later with appropriate stops along the way.

Can’t see trams going ahead, there’s simply not enough room down the median strips for 2 sets of train lines, and the roads – albiet there will be less vehicles on them, are packed already. An overhead monorail for the Civic, Parliamentary Triangle, Russell etc area would solve that in the same line of thought you’re suggesting I think 🙂

I agree with your timetable roster idea, it’s pretty much common knowledge now that if you’re going to catch a bus then factor in a 20 minute wait at the bus stop in addition to the crappy slow bus trip. If the bus came at non fixed times but within 20 minutes of it’s schedule I don’t think anybody would notice anyway. (If you miss your bus, there’s the opportunity that the next bus will be ahead of schedule anyway – hence right back to your 20 min wait)

I don’t think that my or anybody elses ability to vote or pay taxes has any relevance to the validity of the ideas, and should be disregarded.


Samuel Gordon-Stewart12:08 am 10 Oct 05

My ideas are based around the idea of making a system which more people will want to use, and personally, I think Johnboy’s comment has been the most productive one so far. I’m happy for you to criticise me and my ideas, but I would be happier to hear your ideas. One of the main reasons I posted this (other than my ego) is to get people thinking.

To answer some of the questions…

No, I have not checked costs on this, I’m not qualified to do that, I wouldn’t know where to begin. One of the many reasons people dislike public transport is that it feels (and usually is) slow. A system that will get people where they want to go quickly is more likely to have patronage than a system which takes forever. Also, I’m not suggesting having the same regularity of services 24/7, obviously I would run more services at times when more people need it (peak hour etc) and less when they don’t (middle of the night etc).

I’m not suggesting that improving public transport is easy, but if we don’t think about it then we will end up with an obsolete system which doesn’t help anyone.

Nate wrote: “What you have engineered is a very expensive transport system worthy of a much bigger city.”
I’ll take that as a compliment, anybody think Sydney want to fix their public transport?

Nate also wrote: “When you’re old enough to pay taxes, you’ll understand why this will never fly. Until then, I’d reconsider plastering this over the internet.”
I don’t know how old you think I am, but I can assure you that I am old enough to vote, drink, smoke etc, and my idea and discussion spreading campaign has already been dealt with…if it appears anywhere else on the internet (excluding the other site it is already on) then I didn’t put it there.

Anyway, bottom line, feedback is good, ideas are better.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart10:18 pm 09 Oct 05

Nate, please don’t make assumptions about whether I pay tax or not. I might not pay as much tax as most people, but I still pay it.

“I would also release a mandate that the bus timetables be designed to get people to their destinations quickly, rather than sometime next week as tends to be the case at the moment. Why ACTION insist on timetables that get buses travelling at 30km/h is beyond me.”

Once again, simple economics. Less fuel, less distance travelled, more passengers. If your bus zips through suburbs you’ll pick up less people per run, and will either have an idle bus sitting at the exchange for 20 minutes or will cover the run another 2 times, burning 3x the current daily fuel yet picking up the same number of passengers.

People have to live with the inconvenience of public transport. The long term savings (no car, no insurance, no rego, no infringements, no fuel, no servicing, you get the picture) even it all out.

What the hell?

This is Canberra, dude. What you have engineered is a very expensive transport system worthy of a much bigger city.

We have enough trouble attracting the public to our already subsidised, expensive bus system.

When you’re old enough to pay taxes, you’ll understand why this will never fly. Until then, I’d reconsider plastering this over the internet.

The Es-Sense9:01 pm 09 Oct 05

Love the idea of bike-able buses!

Personally I think the answer is to get truly multi-modal

rip most of the seats out of the buses, allow people to carry on their bikes and scooters and work on the assumption people can get a few kilometers under their own steam to the bus stop.

Run more buses faster along the reduced routes.

Living in turner I don’t need a bus to get to neighbouring suburbs, i need it to get to woden, belco, or tuggers.

Who’s going to pay for it?

Most buses are already underused — there’ve been many times when I’ve been the only passenger on one — if they don’t wend through five suburbs then there aren’t enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile. And most of the time, not even then.

IMO the most pressing problem is the overcrowding of peak-hour buses, which is only going to get worse as petrol prices rise.

Have you investigated the economics of your plan?

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