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Inaction Buses.

Deadmandrinking 11 November 2008 113

As I said goodbye to Canberra and stepped off the bus into a new life in Melbourne, I noticed something…working public transport! I still can’t believe how good it is! The buses actually come, for one…

This came after a good few-week stretch of disappointment after disappointment with ACTION. It started at Hawker shops, where I was waiting to catch a bus that came around 5 o’clock. It didn’t come. No shuttle, no word, no nothing – just didn’t show up. A bloke came over and asked me if I was waiting for it, to which I nodded and he said that it hadn’t shown up the day before. To add injury to insult, the next bus came late.

This wasn’t an isolated incident either. I ended up being late for picking up my 9 year old half-brother from after school care after another bus in Dickson didn’t bother to show up. Then later I was almost late for an appointment for the same reason. It was really getting up my nerves. I mean, how many times can you use the same excuse? That’s why excuses have to be fictional, so you can add some variety to them – not the same truth over and over again!

The state of buses in this city really blows my mind. Canberra is a city where public transport should work. It has several well-defined urban centers. It’s basically an ideal bus city! Transport between these urban centers has never been much of a problem, it’s just the suburbs. Why can’t Action just have regular routes through the suburbs to urban centers, from which you can transfer to another, very regular bus going between them? Why is that so hard? There is no reason to have buses that leave 2 bloody minutes after each other, leaving an hour stretch between them. If you have short and sweet routes that go through a few suburbs, terminate at the interchange, are evenly spaced so you don’t have to wait an hour between them and don’t get bogged down in bloody curtin or something when they’re supposed to be in dickson!

Shame ACTION, shame. I won’t be missing you.

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113 Responses to Inaction Buses.
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farnarkler farnarkler 6:05 am 16 Nov 08

ACT Light Rail you are living in dreamland. Canberra won’t get a light rail in your or my lifetimes. Spend whatever money has been set aside on new buses and drop the waiting times between services. Light rail should’ve been built when the first suburbs of Belconnen were being built. It’s far too late and far too expensive now.

bigred bigred 1:38 pm 15 Nov 08

Building Australian Fund needs to be renamed the “Save NSW LABOR Fund”. Funding for ACT to have light rail? Forget it. The election is done and dusted.toot toot!

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 12:20 pm 15 Nov 08

What do you mean I got it? Aren’t you supposed to abuse me and accuse me of contributing nothing to society?

What’s happening to Riot-Act?

ACT Light Rail ACT Light Rail 12:20 pm 15 Nov 08

An american politician once said ‘a billion here, a billion there and soon youre talking real money’. I dont think ACT Light Rail has ever said that light rail was ‘cheap’. Its expensive to construct, but it is infrastructure. Do you complain about the cost of sewage, electricity supply, roads or clean water ? Yes you do – but like everything else it is infrastructure and is an urban necessity.

Our lobby group realised some time ago that light rail in the ACT was going to be a political decision, and not a financial one. The opportunity to obtain funding from Building Australia is a strong and realistic option. That is where our lobbying efforts are currently focussed.

My major worry regarding this current push is that if Mr Albanese says ‘no’ to light rail funding for the ACT, Chief Minister Stanhope can use that as an excuse to abandon any light rail for the ACT. With proper forward planning, $250m could be allocated (like any infrastructure program) and an initial light rail line planned and constructed. The entire process has been kept very secret and has been very rushed. It is of concern to ACT Light Rail that the terms of reference for the business case have been kept secret.

Once can divine what teh core of teh TOR coudl be from looking at the Infrastructure Australia guidelines at:

We were recently advised by TAMS that no one in government has yet looked at the draft business case for light rail, delivered by PWC at the end of October. This is of concern as the business case is to be delivered to Building Australia at the end of November.

If anyone wants to write a letter to Mr Albanese and ask for light rail funding for the ACT, please do so.

bigred bigred 12:06 pm 15 Nov 08

You got it DMD. We are a bunch of short sighted twats when it comes down to it.

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 11:47 am 15 Nov 08

Guess climate change can take a back seat then, now that we have our precious petrol. It will last forever, right?

bigred bigred 10:56 am 15 Nov 08

Petrol is heading down again. Light rail debate can go back to the back room habitated by geeks with bad or no deodorant. toot toot!

farnarkler farnarkler 9:37 am 15 Nov 08

You can forget light rail for Canberra. The simple fact is that it will cost too much. The following is from a London study (yes I know CBR isn’t LDN however the cost would be around the same):

The Corporation of London propose building the 17km tram route by a new “trenchless” method which doesn’t involve the cost of moving utilities. They predict a capital cost of £348.3m, followed by £14.8m annual running costs. The Treasury requires a 60% “optimism bias” to be added to cover unforeseen costs, which raises the cost to £490.9m.

As always with such projects, the location of a depot causes much concern. The Corporation believe that the redevelopment site at Battersea Power Station offers a good location for a depot without upsetting residents too much.
Service pattern & demand

24tph would run on the core section, with 12tph running on each branch.

Between 52000 & 64000 passengers would be expected to use the tram in the morning peak (0700-1000), with total annual patronage at between 51m and 64m. Revenues would be between £24m and £39m, although given decreases in bus ticket sales, net public transport revenue change could be anywhere between £47m and -£2m. Total benefits would be between £76m and £96m.

Even if the £ and $ were 1:1 it’s still too expensive for the ACT gov’t. Remember too that another bridge would need to be built over Burley Griffin.

radonezh radonezh 7:28 pm 12 Nov 08


Northbourne may have been the only one designed for it, but I am sure that Wentworth, Adelaide and Brisbane Avenues all could handle the task (amongst many others)

Melbourne has limitations due to older infrastructure. Not a fair comparison of what is currently available, and certainly not what Canberra’s layout would provide as an outcome. Additionally, the C class trams were designed for a population the size of Melbourne’s (hence, less seating, more standing room). The seating layouts therein are not the only way these sorts of vehicles can be configured.

Yes, you might have to cross traffic at some point, but the number of crossing points are highly reduced compared to buses, and preferential signalling regimes can hold traffic away from the light rail. There is no way that you can argue that traffic can significantly affect a modern light rail system.

Additionally, the existing rail line from Tuggers to Kingston via Queanbeyan does not have have any level crossings and would not interface with road traffic AT ALL until you get to Kingston – it is a dedicated heavy rail line that can be utilised (with upgrades) by light rail vehicles. It is currently not utilized for any practical purpose. The population density of both Tuggers and Queanbeyan would be sufficient to make that one route viable provided that the project is approached from a “public good” point of view and not a “just for profit” point of view.

300 cars could be removed by one articulated rail vehicle when you take into account its cycle through the network in a single day. People get on-and-off at different places. The trams proceed to an end point at the other side of the city and return with more people. The AM and PM peaks could easily achieve this sort of throughput on the major commuter corridors, even in Canberra.

I have nothing against buses, but they are significantly less comfortable than modern light and heavy rail solutions. They are also more prone to traffic problems (unless they have dedicated busways, which are just as expensive as putting down rail tracks in the median strips.) Buses also emit a heck of a lot more pollutants into the city scape (whereas light rail emissions can be contained and treated at the power plant which is usually remote to the city itself). Lifestyle is greatly facilitated by light rail. But again, I don’t have a problem with a better bus system.

I don’t know about DART in Dallas – I’ve never been to Yankeeland, but I do know that rail is safer than road.

JC JC 6:34 pm 12 Nov 08

radonezh said :

My understanding (I could be wrong) is that the median strips for most of Canberra’s wide boulevards/avenues/roads were intended to be a corridor for light rail (since the city was designed at a time when motor cars were only just starting to become a practical option for transport). It shouldn’t add anything to the congestion.

Well Northborne Ave was designed with that in mind, the rest have come later.

radonezh said :

The reasons why people would use rail when they might not use buses is manifold:

a) Modern light rail is more spacious and comfortable than buses – the vehicles do not jolt around, they are air conditioned, they a low-floor designs that easily accommodate wheelchairs, prams and elderly people. You can sit on a light rail vehicle reading a book without being jolted around like you would on a bus

Really? Ever ridden on one of the C class light rail vehicles in Melbourne? In particular the 109 to Port Melbourne which is a light rail line. The vehciles have bugger all inside for seating because they are low floor and the only place to put a lot of the equipment that would normally be under the vehicle is inside. They also sway so much.

Same too with Cryodon Tramlink in London, which is a dedicated light rail line.

radonezh said :

b) For relatively new public transport users, there is a psychological factor around being able to see the route which the tracks take – meaning you are less likely to get on the wrong tram and end up somewhere completely different as you could if you catch the wrong bus.

True, but again in Canberra we could only ever hope for a line on the intertown route, so that doesn’t help people who need to start or end their trip in the burbs

radonezh said :

c) The existence of light-rail only sections (such as the median strips, and the existing rail corridors that run from Tuggeranong to Queanbeyan and Kingston) mean that you can completely avoid traffic because the light rail has a dedicated track.

Not true. You have to cross traffic at some point.

radonezh said :

One articulated light rail vehicle can easily take 300 cars off the road. Its safer, cleaner, greener and more comfortable (the commuter can read a book or have a conversation instead of concentrating on the road).

Think you are dreaming there. To get 300 people you would need a massive light rail train longer that the D2’s in Melbourne (which are 5 section). Then considering the population density of Canberra you would probably only be able to run one every 20-30 minutes to get those numbers on board.

Now the best light rail system I have seen is the DART in Dallas. It is designed to link suburban park and rides to the CBD. In Canberra something like this might work, but the difference with us is our commuting workforce is spread all over the place, so again would not scale to Canberra.

The problem with Canberra is our population density and our distributed work force. Blame the town centre mentatility of the 60’s and 70’s for this.

The best solution would be an enhancement of the bus servive. Get it back to (at least) 30 minute intervals off peak and seriously look at bus roads between the towns and run more thru services.

Overheard Overheard 5:42 pm 12 Nov 08

Aha! Cf qualifier about time and energy being available! Maybe walking from Jerra to a gig at The Front in Lyneham is not viable. You’d get damn fit, though.

radonezh radonezh 5:28 pm 12 Nov 08

Walking?? From Jerra? Hmmmm 🙂

Overheard Overheard 5:26 pm 12 Nov 08

Virgin Blue vs Qantas Lounge. I’ll reserve comment given my four-day-a-week bread-winning job. I’ve used both this year and both have their good and bad points.

I’ll just say (and have said before) that my visit to the Virgin Blue lounge recently cost me $35 from my own pocket and I considered it money well spent when compared to sitting for a comparable time in the airport’s other waiting areas.

Back OT, if you have the time and the energy, walking is a damn good alternative to the car or the buses. (Just observe some consideration when competing for space with bikes and roller-bladers if you use the bike paths.)

radonezh radonezh 4:49 pm 12 Nov 08

Yeah, I like the airport public transport services whether we are talking Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide. Even Melbourne has a great Skybus.. very nice and affordable too. Whenever traveling alone, these sorts of services are a great money saver. Cabs are good when there are more than one traveller.

Speaking of Virgin Blue lounge – out of interest, how do you rate it versus the QANTAS club?? Thinking of swapping carriers…

Overheard Overheard 4:44 pm 12 Nov 08

Comment at #98 was about trains from airport to Sydney CBD, btw.

Overheard Overheard 4:43 pm 12 Nov 08

I’m big raps for Sydney’s airport service when I’m working in the CBD, but I will NEVER, repeat NEVER again contemplate trying to use trains to go airport to Parramatta and/or return. Involuntary shudder, only mitigated by 2.5 hours in the Virgin Blue lounge.

radonezh radonezh 4:22 pm 12 Nov 08

Overheard said :

I still think cutting out the changeovers at hubs would entice a few more people to the buses.

Classic problem of Discrete Mathematics – how do you ensure that all points on the digraph are reachable utilizing the minimum number of routes (i.e. buses) within a set timeframe? Same thing happens at major rail hubs. Change trains to get to the Airport line.

Speaking of which, I was very pleasantly surprised that in Adelaide, they have a normal suburban bus service too and from the aiport. It’s fantastic!

tom-tom tom-tom 4:14 pm 12 Nov 08

bus wars… its the sequel to public holiday wars. stay tuned for the thriling conclusion to this epic saga…(i’m spoiling for a fight on the hospitals thread by the way)

i’m sick of this argument though.

i fundementally believe that public transport is a necessity in canberra due to the relatively high number of disadvanteged people in canberra.

i beleive the system could be better, but i’m also a realist and a pragmatist. i realise that while very frequent off peak routes might be deisrable they are just not feasible when the govt has to make decsions on what to spend limited public funds on; i beleive that extending funding on off peak buses services that are rarely used anyway would be inappropriate when there are schools and hospitals and roads that need the money.

i believe that the bus system is being run pretty well considering the realities of the situation. most users of the buses get to school and work and have no dramas.

feel free to tick off what you agree with and not what you dont.

i’m out.

Overheard Overheard 4:08 pm 12 Nov 08

Yeah, fair point, radonezh. I just have bad memories of standing (sans shelter) in Kambah for many years when the voice on the radio has just told me it’s minus five. And I too have gone the other way and stood with the sweat pouring down when catching a late bus in the morning or escaping in the afternoon.

(But you’re dead right about experiencing weather. I’m about to spend four nights in a tent in what I suspect will be quite a lot of rain, but that’s minor inconvenience for me and a great result for the part of the world I’ll be in. (Oh, and if Mutley’s lurking, I’ll be having lots of baked potatoes, a few sausage sandwiches plus a vat or three of Coopers.))

I still think cutting out the changeovers at hubs would entice a few more people to the buses.

radonezh radonezh 4:01 pm 12 Nov 08

Overhead: Freezing platform – I used to have the opposite problem in the Brisbane summers. Nonetheless, good shelter design (not necessarily expensive design) can do a lot to overcome such problems. It’s not a bad thing to experience the weather occasionally.

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