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Is ACTION trying to do too much?

By Greg Cornwell 2 February 2016 36

Moonlight bus

The ACT Council on the Aging last year held a public transport forum for getting senior non-drivers around Canberra. As a result of an accident I had my own experience of our ACTION bus service and the two events set me thinking: are we trying to do too much?

I cannot speak for peak hour travel although the new private parking costs and fines must have added to the already high patronage. The off-peak services are another matter despite clean comfortable buses in my case providing an hourly service for a 30 minute run to Yarralumla from Civic. The 1337 on a recent Wednesday had a customer load of 13 tourists who disembarked at Parliament House, a man who possibly went to Woden and myself. We did not collect anyone en route. Hardly likely to balance the budget.

But does it have to? I know of no public transport system in the world that runs at a profit, yet Canberra seems to niggle away at trying to do so by increasing loadings and simultaneously improving services.

We suffer the same problems as other cities: new suburbs demanding new routes, longer distances, and an aging population who no longer drive, young families and students without private transport.

These other cities share these disadvantages but the problems are not the subject of expensive studies to correct them. If you have to walk a long way to a transport stop, if off-peak schedules are limited, if a visit to town involves several changes, so be it. People are expected to adjust and they do. Many elderly people, even those with cars, will not go out at night, young families have not the money nor enjoy the hassle, and students are equally impecunious.

I do not for a moment dismiss the very real problems lack of mobility can cause like isolation and difficulty with shopping. Nevertheless no government can afford to address every private inconvenience faced by individuals and that includes transportation.

We cannot expect door to door service 24 hours a day – indeed most of us would not want it – and there are government funded organisations to help the disabled and elderly who need it.

Only in the matter of running costs can our ACTION budget be addressed. However dead running, rescheduling and salaries will not necessarily substantially improve the bottom line and I suggest neither will a change of public transport type.


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Is ACTION trying to do too much?
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rubaiyat 2:40 pm 06 Feb 16

OpenYourMind said :

Here’s a simple example of where the future is heading:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3422307/London-s-driverless-cars-adapted-shuttle-pods-used-Heathrow-s-Terminal-5.html

Is that 100 year old tram technology starting to look a little silly???

Not as silly as that 100 year old car technology dressed up in a Jetson suit by sewing shiny flanges on the shoulders.

OpenYourMind 11:51 am 06 Feb 16

dungfungus said :

OpenYourMind said :

dungfungus said :

KentFitch said :

JC said :

Raging Tempest said :

Apart from the lack of availability of buses at night, the magical mystery tour routes are a disincentive to use the service. Using my routes as examples, it is 30 minutes from my bus stop to Tuggeranong on the 65 or 66 – 5km and we aren’t the first suburb it goes through. Its 40 minutes on the 67. It takes 45 minutes to walk it. Of course I’ll drive the 5km.
The whole system needs an overhaul to make it user friendly again.

Not much can be done about the mystery tour routings. The buses need to do these routes to find sufficient passengers to carry. Only way around it is to bulldoze the suburbs and start again with a far greater density.

Bulldozing the suburbs would be very expensive. It is very expensive to make buses meet the mobility needs that a decent society should be providing to all its citizens, regardless of income, age and capabilities. Unless you are willing to bet against the auto-makers, the largest engineering schools, transport researchers, a growing number of governments, a large assortment of bankers, think-tanks and consultants, there will soon (4-8 years, a blink of the eye in urban/transport planning terms) be a viable alternative for Canberra, which already has an extensive and high quality road network, and that is a shared fleet of autonomous electric vehicles.

I understand that for many people, this requires a reversal of the “cars are bad” reflex they will never make. But technology changes things, often dramatically. If the goal is not to cling to ideology, but rather to sincerely address the challenge of providing universal mobility and helping to restore dignity and independence to the most vulnerable in society, please think about this and help drive the process whereby the adaption of the technology is driven by the community rather than multinationals: http://www.projectcomputing.com/resources/cacs/#motivation

I have two questions about autonomous electric cars.
Assuming 100 people on a bus decide to commute with the new mode, won’t this increase vehicle congestion? If there were 2 people per car this would mean 50 cars would replace one bus.
Also, any vehicle totally dependant (and hybrids too) on battery power has only half its maximum range in cold weather (reduced power retention and higher drain for passenger heating) so the new autonomous cars are going to spend more time at a charging station than on the road in our wintere months.
As the tram passengers will find out in Canberra when the drivers have to use the super capacitors in the designated wire free zones, there will be no heating or cooling.
That’s “progress”.

If you think about autonomous cars in the same way we needed to think about the internet or smartphones when they were still just more conceptual. Not a single person can imagine all the possible ways such technology will be used. Even using the term ‘car’ is closed minded. Take for example the autonomous pods at Heathrow airport that are operating successfully, there’s talk of them stretching their legs to more locations. The very concept of car ownership may well be threatened. Why own a car if your main journey is just to work. You could summons an autonomous vehicle on your smartphone, then agree to a reduced ‘fare’ if it picks up others on the way (all intelligently routed as each vehicle communicates with all other vehicles). Your vehicle then drops you off in a fast drop off slip lane near your work and then picks the least congested path to pick up the next commuter. Much congestion is more because of human actions than true flow problems. School vehicles are always a challenge to provide, however for kids old enough to self manage, autonomous cars may be a godsend. They will also give the disabled and elderly a new mobility and independence they never knew was possible.

Future autonomous vehicles may also be able to operate in swarms. Swarms are a newish kind of study. Think about a bunch of vehicles all travelling within inches of each other and moving as one organism.

As for charging, it’s almost irrelevant in a pooled autonomous world. These vehicles will manage their power and sneak off to charge at a planned quiet time.

Suddenly these vehicles will challenge many concepts we have held for the past century. Huge carparks may no longer be necessary, the closest suburbs may no longer be the most valuable, the way we socialise may change. Goods delivery may completely change. The form factor of vehicles may change radically enough – even moving to portable offices, who knows? I’ve even heard of the concept of an autonomous roving brothel!

And moving back a bit closer to current times for those without cars who have challenges with dreadful Action bus timetables, have you considered riding a bicycle. A commute on a Saturday morning from Charnwood to Belco Mall is really not much of a challenge and will get you to your workplace in minutes and offer free parking, health benefits etc.

Fair enough, I wasn’t looking that far into the future. I concede that all that is possible but only if one still has a job, for example what will happen to the thousands of jobs in the transport sector like bus drivers?
I recall a day in 1980 when the company I worked for sent out a memo (no emails or texts back then) advising that a decision had been made to computerise some activities in the company. The memo went on to say “no jobs will be threatened”.
The rest is history.
A similar thing happened a few years ago when someone said “there will be no carbon tax in a government I lead….”.

Absolutely, AI and automation will move higher up the food every year. This will threaten a change many current social structures and occupations. I will say that most computer projects I’ve been involved with have always (for the past 30+ years) promised reduced labour costs, but most places I’ve worked at seemed to have grown in staff head count.

Driving as an occupation will certainly be one of the earlier occupations to come under threat. Even Uber, which works on the driver/owner model is looking into autonomous cars.

IdlePeasant 11:50 am 06 Feb 16

dungfungus said :

Fair enough, I wasn’t looking that far into the future. I concede that all that is possible but only if one still has a job, for example what will happen to the thousands of jobs in the transport sector like bus drivers?

The transport sector is simply going to join the long list of jobs that have been eliminated through computerization. Driving is an incredibly unskilled job, so that’s not really surprising. We honestly need more government intervention in trying to getting people more educated, because in 20 or 30 years we’re going to have massive issues with structural unemployment. Unless your field of skill is in medicine or STEM, you’re pretty much screwed.

Maya123 11:07 am 06 Feb 16

bj_ACT said :

Maya123 said :

bj_ACT said :

Thanks gbates for those weird and wonderful ACTION bus routes. I now know why my sister in law complains about her daughters bus to school in Phillip from her place at Monash. According to Google maps 10 mins by car and 10km, taking Bus number 65 is 27km and 38 minutes. Given the walk to the bus stop and giving yourself 5 minute leeway for timing it’s no wonder she complained so much.

Here’s the complex route and number of stops from the transit app. I am going to vote this bus route of the Year! Does a commuter jumping on at Beasley st Torrrens know what has just preceded them?
http://transittimesapp.com/canberra/action-buses-bus-65-tuggeranong-woden.html

There are closer schools to Monash than Phillip. Monash Primary School, Caroline Chisholm School and Erindale College. If the student went to them they could cycle or walk to school. I find it strange when people ignore the provided local school and then complain about the bus access and bus travel times to one further away. ACTION shouldn’t be expected to provide a service ferrying children around Canberra when there is a provided local school, which the parents are choosing to ignore. We are so spoiled in Canberra with so many nearby provided schools. For some reality; how about children needing to catch the bus at 7am from over 50kms away to get to school, as some of my fellow class mates did. It took so long, because it wasn’t a direct 50kms; the schools buses wound in and out of minor roads and lanes to collect the students from farms and small settlements. That sort of puts the complaints about buses here into perspective; which is often a personal choice if the local school is ignored.

I’d only embarrass you if I explained why she went to school in Phillip. Let’s just say you can’t always attend your nearest school for a variety of reasons.

Anyway this is not the real issue, let’s change the story to a young person who catches the 65 bus to their job at David Jones Woden. Surely people think that bus 65 is a pretty winding bus route with a lot of stops.

I went to several schools over the years, but I’ll mention my last school as an example. It was in a small country town and there was only one school, so all children, no matter what their circumstances had to attend that one school. There was no choice, but the school coped, even with the extremely handicapped child in my year, who couldn’t manage stairs, of which the school had several sets of, or go to the toilet by herself. The teachers helped, the mother came regularly to help (I felt so sorry for her, tired down like that) and several students (I was one of the main ones here) would keep her company so she was not excluded. I had social problems at that school, caused mainly by one other student, and was very much an outsider (moving to the town; not growing up there), again a lot the fault of this one other student who held a lot of sway, but I had to attend that school and got through.
Maybe the child you are referring to is a single mother. If this is the case, no you would not have embarrassed me if you had mentioned it. This is a personal lifestyle choice. They chose to continue the pregnancy, even though they were still at school and not in a position to support that child.

dungfungus 9:26 am 06 Feb 16

OpenYourMind said :

dungfungus said :

KentFitch said :

JC said :

Raging Tempest said :

Apart from the lack of availability of buses at night, the magical mystery tour routes are a disincentive to use the service. Using my routes as examples, it is 30 minutes from my bus stop to Tuggeranong on the 65 or 66 – 5km and we aren’t the first suburb it goes through. Its 40 minutes on the 67. It takes 45 minutes to walk it. Of course I’ll drive the 5km.
The whole system needs an overhaul to make it user friendly again.

Not much can be done about the mystery tour routings. The buses need to do these routes to find sufficient passengers to carry. Only way around it is to bulldoze the suburbs and start again with a far greater density.

Bulldozing the suburbs would be very expensive. It is very expensive to make buses meet the mobility needs that a decent society should be providing to all its citizens, regardless of income, age and capabilities. Unless you are willing to bet against the auto-makers, the largest engineering schools, transport researchers, a growing number of governments, a large assortment of bankers, think-tanks and consultants, there will soon (4-8 years, a blink of the eye in urban/transport planning terms) be a viable alternative for Canberra, which already has an extensive and high quality road network, and that is a shared fleet of autonomous electric vehicles.

I understand that for many people, this requires a reversal of the “cars are bad” reflex they will never make. But technology changes things, often dramatically. If the goal is not to cling to ideology, but rather to sincerely address the challenge of providing universal mobility and helping to restore dignity and independence to the most vulnerable in society, please think about this and help drive the process whereby the adaption of the technology is driven by the community rather than multinationals: http://www.projectcomputing.com/resources/cacs/#motivation

I have two questions about autonomous electric cars.
Assuming 100 people on a bus decide to commute with the new mode, won’t this increase vehicle congestion? If there were 2 people per car this would mean 50 cars would replace one bus.
Also, any vehicle totally dependant (and hybrids too) on battery power has only half its maximum range in cold weather (reduced power retention and higher drain for passenger heating) so the new autonomous cars are going to spend more time at a charging station than on the road in our wintere months.
As the tram passengers will find out in Canberra when the drivers have to use the super capacitors in the designated wire free zones, there will be no heating or cooling.
That’s “progress”.

If you think about autonomous cars in the same way we needed to think about the internet or smartphones when they were still just more conceptual. Not a single person can imagine all the possible ways such technology will be used. Even using the term ‘car’ is closed minded. Take for example the autonomous pods at Heathrow airport that are operating successfully, there’s talk of them stretching their legs to more locations. The very concept of car ownership may well be threatened. Why own a car if your main journey is just to work. You could summons an autonomous vehicle on your smartphone, then agree to a reduced ‘fare’ if it picks up others on the way (all intelligently routed as each vehicle communicates with all other vehicles). Your vehicle then drops you off in a fast drop off slip lane near your work and then picks the least congested path to pick up the next commuter. Much congestion is more because of human actions than true flow problems. School vehicles are always a challenge to provide, however for kids old enough to self manage, autonomous cars may be a godsend. They will also give the disabled and elderly a new mobility and independence they never knew was possible.

Future autonomous vehicles may also be able to operate in swarms. Swarms are a newish kind of study. Think about a bunch of vehicles all travelling within inches of each other and moving as one organism.

As for charging, it’s almost irrelevant in a pooled autonomous world. These vehicles will manage their power and sneak off to charge at a planned quiet time.

Suddenly these vehicles will challenge many concepts we have held for the past century. Huge carparks may no longer be necessary, the closest suburbs may no longer be the most valuable, the way we socialise may change. Goods delivery may completely change. The form factor of vehicles may change radically enough – even moving to portable offices, who knows? I’ve even heard of the concept of an autonomous roving brothel!

And moving back a bit closer to current times for those without cars who have challenges with dreadful Action bus timetables, have you considered riding a bicycle. A commute on a Saturday morning from Charnwood to Belco Mall is really not much of a challenge and will get you to your workplace in minutes and offer free parking, health benefits etc.

Fair enough, I wasn’t looking that far into the future. I concede that all that is possible but only if one still has a job, for example what will happen to the thousands of jobs in the transport sector like bus drivers?
I recall a day in 1980 when the company I worked for sent out a memo (no emails or texts back then) advising that a decision had been made to computerise some activities in the company. The memo went on to say “no jobs will be threatened”.
The rest is history.
A similar thing happened a few years ago when someone said “there will be no carbon tax in a government I lead….”.

OpenYourMind 7:43 am 06 Feb 16

Here’s a simple example of where the future is heading:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3422307/London-s-driverless-cars-adapted-shuttle-pods-used-Heathrow-s-Terminal-5.html

Is that 100 year old tram technology starting to look a little silly???

OpenYourMind 7:39 am 06 Feb 16

dungfungus said :

KentFitch said :

JC said :

Raging Tempest said :

Apart from the lack of availability of buses at night, the magical mystery tour routes are a disincentive to use the service. Using my routes as examples, it is 30 minutes from my bus stop to Tuggeranong on the 65 or 66 – 5km and we aren’t the first suburb it goes through. Its 40 minutes on the 67. It takes 45 minutes to walk it. Of course I’ll drive the 5km.
The whole system needs an overhaul to make it user friendly again.

Not much can be done about the mystery tour routings. The buses need to do these routes to find sufficient passengers to carry. Only way around it is to bulldoze the suburbs and start again with a far greater density.

Bulldozing the suburbs would be very expensive. It is very expensive to make buses meet the mobility needs that a decent society should be providing to all its citizens, regardless of income, age and capabilities. Unless you are willing to bet against the auto-makers, the largest engineering schools, transport researchers, a growing number of governments, a large assortment of bankers, think-tanks and consultants, there will soon (4-8 years, a blink of the eye in urban/transport planning terms) be a viable alternative for Canberra, which already has an extensive and high quality road network, and that is a shared fleet of autonomous electric vehicles.

I understand that for many people, this requires a reversal of the “cars are bad” reflex they will never make. But technology changes things, often dramatically. If the goal is not to cling to ideology, but rather to sincerely address the challenge of providing universal mobility and helping to restore dignity and independence to the most vulnerable in society, please think about this and help drive the process whereby the adaption of the technology is driven by the community rather than multinationals: http://www.projectcomputing.com/resources/cacs/#motivation

I have two questions about autonomous electric cars.
Assuming 100 people on a bus decide to commute with the new mode, won’t this increase vehicle congestion? If there were 2 people per car this would mean 50 cars would replace one bus.
Also, any vehicle totally dependant (and hybrids too) on battery power has only half its maximum range in cold weather (reduced power retention and higher drain for passenger heating) so the new autonomous cars are going to spend more time at a charging station than on the road in our wintere months.
As the tram passengers will find out in Canberra when the drivers have to use the super capacitors in the designated wire free zones, there will be no heating or cooling.
That’s “progress”.

If you think about autonomous cars in the same way we needed to think about the internet or smartphones when they were still just more conceptual. Not a single person can imagine all the possible ways such technology will be used. Even using the term ‘car’ is closed minded. Take for example the autonomous pods at Heathrow airport that are operating successfully, there’s talk of them stretching their legs to more locations. The very concept of car ownership may well be threatened. Why own a car if your main journey is just to work. You could summons an autonomous vehicle on your smartphone, then agree to a reduced ‘fare’ if it picks up others on the way (all intelligently routed as each vehicle communicates with all other vehicles). Your vehicle then drops you off in a fast drop off slip lane near your work and then picks the least congested path to pick up the next commuter. Much congestion is more because of human actions than true flow problems. School vehicles are always a challenge to provide, however for kids old enough to self manage, autonomous cars may be a godsend. They will also give the disabled and elderly a new mobility and independence they never knew was possible.

Future autonomous vehicles may also be able to operate in swarms. Swarms are a newish kind of study. Think about a bunch of vehicles all travelling within inches of each other and moving as one organism.

As for charging, it’s almost irrelevant in a pooled autonomous world. These vehicles will manage their power and sneak off to charge at a planned quiet time.

Suddenly these vehicles will challenge many concepts we have held for the past century. Huge carparks may no longer be necessary, the closest suburbs may no longer be the most valuable, the way we socialise may change. Goods delivery may completely change. The form factor of vehicles may change radically enough – even moving to portable offices, who knows? I’ve even heard of the concept of an autonomous roving brothel!

And moving back a bit closer to current times for those without cars who have challenges with dreadful Action bus timetables, have you considered riding a bicycle. A commute on a Saturday morning from Charnwood to Belco Mall is really not much of a challenge and will get you to your workplace in minutes and offer free parking, health benefits etc.

wildturkeycanoe 7:17 am 06 Feb 16

dungfungus said :

I have two questions about autonomous electric cars.
Assuming 100 people on a bus decide to commute with the new mode, won’t this increase vehicle congestion? If there were 2 people per car this would mean 50 cars would replace one bus.
Also, any vehicle totally dependant (and hybrids too) on battery power has only half its maximum range in cold weather (reduced power retention and higher drain for passenger heating) so the new autonomous cars are going to spend more time at a charging station than on the road in our wintere months.
As the tram passengers will find out in Canberra when the drivers have to use the super capacitors in the designated wire free zones, there will be no heating or cooling.
That’s “progress”.

With autonomous cars, congestion won’t be worse for one simple reason. Those 100 people on the bus won’t be using the same road to get to their destination. They will peel off into side streets along the route or take a different route altogether. They will also be off the road in a matter of 10 or 20 minutes, as opposed to the bus which will take them on a Disney tour for an hour and a half. The reason they are all on the same road is purely because it is the only bus traveling in that general direction at that time. Buses assume that everyone is going to the same place, which in reality is not the case. I wonder how many people for instance, catch one of the meandering routes to get to the stop at the end of the line. Chances are you’d have most of them get off at some point, or arrive at the last stop to have to get onto another bus to take them off on a tangent to reach their objective some 2 hours from commencement of the journey. Autonomous cars would choose the shortest, most efficient route, probably taking many of the cars off the main arterial road and onto back streets. That is why buses are so inefficient, they are a measure designed to help most people to get close to their destination for some of the day in as long as it takes, instead of getting all the people to their destination all day as quickly as possible. Mass transit will never be a substitute for a car in terms of efficient use of time, in inclement weather conditions [freezing cold rainy days and 40°C+ summer days] or for those who have mobility issues and large items to move such as shopping, musical instruments, tools etc. Also [at risk of being proven wrong again with paragraphs of calculations], cars are more economically viable. To explain that, the fact that ACTION is so heavily subsidized by the government is proof in itself. If buses charged what it really cost to run them, I don’t think the comparisons to private vehicles would be as convincing as what many have mathematically formulated previously.
To think we can eliminate cars with better public transport is a fairy tale. Look at Sydney and Melbourne, Tokyo, Los Angeles, everywhere congestion problems are much worse. You’d think with that kind of traffic chaos people would flock to use the rail and bus networks, but they don’t. Why? Because driving is either more efficient, convenient, flexible or simply a necessary evil due to their work or personal circumstances. That and/or the public transport system also has limitations and can’t bear the load of all the people wanting to travel. All Action can do is try to get their loop-de-loop services a little better planned to meet the needs of a majority of the commuters willing to battle the elements to get to their destination. The rest of us that spend half a day to get to the other side of the city will have to endure the ordeal as best we can, mourning the loss of all that precious time that could have been better spent in the comfort of a car.

miz 7:53 pm 05 Feb 16

Maya123 said :

bj_ACT said :

Thanks gbates for those weird and wonderful ACTION bus routes. I now know why my sister in law complains about her daughters bus to school in Phillip from her place at Monash. According to Google maps 10 mins by car and 10km, taking Bus number 65 is 27km and 38 minutes. Given the walk to the bus stop and giving yourself 5 minute leeway for timing it’s no wonder she complained so much.

Here’s the complex route and number of stops from the transit app. I am going to vote this bus route of the Year! Does a commuter jumping on at Beasley st Torrrens know what has just preceded them?
http://transittimesapp.com/canberra/action-buses-bus-65-tuggeranong-woden.html

There are closer schools to Monash than Phillip. Monash Primary School, Caroline Chisholm School and Erindale College. If the student went to them they could cycle or walk to school. I find it strange when people ignore the provided local school and then complain about the bus access and bus travel times to one further away. ACTION shouldn’t be expected to provide a service ferrying children around Canberra when there is a provided local school, which the parents are choosing to ignore. We are so spoiled in Canberra with so many nearby provided schools. For some reality; how about children needing to catch the bus at 7am from over 50kms away to get to school, as some of my fellow class mates did. It took so long, because it wasn’t a direct 50kms; the schools buses wound in and out of minor roads and lanes to collect the students from farms and small settlements. That sort of puts the complaints about buses here into perspective; which is often a personal choice if the local school is ignored.

Just to add, and to link thoughts between this post and the post about school models:
The ‘specialist’ school model, plus the fact that parents here are permitted to choose any public school instead being obliged to go to the one in their zone, exacerbates this problem (and of course forces schools within the same public system to have to compete for students and funding for ‘specialist’ areas instead of aiming for general standards of excellence).

dungfungus 6:23 pm 05 Feb 16

JC said :

miz said :

ACTION recently tried to increase services to make it more efficient where needed, but the improved timetable could not be implemented because they simply do not have enough buses. It is clear that ACTION is being hamstrung by this govt because they are funnelling as much PT money as possible to the stupid non-existent tram (which, even if implemented, will serve few Canberrans).
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/action-doesnt-have-enough-buses-to-introduce-new-weekday-bus-timetable-20150916-gjohjf.html
PT is definitely one of those things we pay our rates and taxes for – private buses lines etc are not interested in the public good, only in making a profit, which means the people who need PT most are served more poorly (which is, of course, counterintuitive to the whole point of PT).

All well and good to say that, but the facts speak differently. Action is getting additional money and it is getting additional buses too. Though the story is correct they didn’t have sufficient buses to run the proposed timetable.

As for private buses, just need to look to QBN to see what happens when a private operator runs routes. The fare from QBN to CBR for example is extortion. You could of course follow the contract model, but then the government is still subsidising PT. No easy answer really.

No JC, it is not extortion, that is the real cost including a profit.
Note also the buses across the border only cost half as much as the ACTION ones and the drivers are paid much less.

bj_ACT 4:22 pm 05 Feb 16

Maya123 said :

bj_ACT said :

Thanks gbates for those weird and wonderful ACTION bus routes. I now know why my sister in law complains about her daughters bus to school in Phillip from her place at Monash. According to Google maps 10 mins by car and 10km, taking Bus number 65 is 27km and 38 minutes. Given the walk to the bus stop and giving yourself 5 minute leeway for timing it’s no wonder she complained so much.

Here’s the complex route and number of stops from the transit app. I am going to vote this bus route of the Year! Does a commuter jumping on at Beasley st Torrrens know what has just preceded them?
http://transittimesapp.com/canberra/action-buses-bus-65-tuggeranong-woden.html

There are closer schools to Monash than Phillip. Monash Primary School, Caroline Chisholm School and Erindale College. If the student went to them they could cycle or walk to school. I find it strange when people ignore the provided local school and then complain about the bus access and bus travel times to one further away. ACTION shouldn’t be expected to provide a service ferrying children around Canberra when there is a provided local school, which the parents are choosing to ignore. We are so spoiled in Canberra with so many nearby provided schools. For some reality; how about children needing to catch the bus at 7am from over 50kms away to get to school, as some of my fellow class mates did. It took so long, because it wasn’t a direct 50kms; the schools buses wound in and out of minor roads and lanes to collect the students from farms and small settlements. That sort of puts the complaints about buses here into perspective; which is often a personal choice if the local school is ignored.

I’d only embarrass you if I explained why she went to school in Phillip. Let’s just say you can’t always attend your nearest school for a variety of reasons.

Anyway this is not the real issue, let’s change the story to a young person who catches the 65 bus to their job at David Jones Woden. Surely people think that bus 65 is a pretty winding bus route with a lot of stops.

KentFitch 2:43 pm 05 Feb 16

dungfungus said :

KentFitch said :

JC said :

Raging Tempest said :

Apart from the lack of availability of buses at night, the magical mystery tour routes are a disincentive to use the service. Using my routes as examples, it is 30 minutes from my bus stop to Tuggeranong on the 65 or 66 – 5km and we aren’t the first suburb it goes through. Its 40 minutes on the 67. It takes 45 minutes to walk it. Of course I’ll drive the 5km.
The whole system needs an overhaul to make it user friendly again.

Not much can be done about the mystery tour routings. The buses need to do these routes to find sufficient passengers to carry. Only way around it is to bulldoze the suburbs and start again with a far greater density.

Bulldozing the suburbs would be very expensive. It is very expensive to make buses meet the mobility needs that a decent society should be providing to all its citizens, regardless of income, age and capabilities. Unless you are willing to bet against the auto-makers, the largest engineering schools, transport researchers, a growing number of governments, a large assortment of bankers, think-tanks and consultants, there will soon (4-8 years, a blink of the eye in urban/transport planning terms) be a viable alternative for Canberra, which already has an extensive and high quality road network, and that is a shared fleet of autonomous electric vehicles.

I understand that for many people, this requires a reversal of the “cars are bad” reflex they will never make. But technology changes things, often dramatically. If the goal is not to cling to ideology, but rather to sincerely address the challenge of providing universal mobility and helping to restore dignity and independence to the most vulnerable in society, please think about this and help drive the process whereby the adaption of the technology is driven by the community rather than multinationals: http://www.projectcomputing.com/resources/cacs/#motivation

I have two questions about autonomous electric cars.
Assuming 100 people on a bus decide to commute with the new mode, won’t this increase vehicle congestion? If there were 2 people per car this would mean 50 cars would replace one bus.
Also, any vehicle totally dependant (and hybrids too) on battery power has only half its maximum range in cold weather (reduced power retention and higher drain for passenger heating) so the new autonomous cars are going to spend more time at a charging station than on the road in our wintere months.
As the tram passengers will find out in Canberra when the drivers have to use the super capacitors in the designated wire free zones, there will be no heating or cooling.
That’s “progress”.

Thanks for the questions. If 100 bus passengers had the same origin and destination (all going from A to B) and journey start time, and the autonomous car had 4 seats, there would be 4 passengers per autonomous car. But 25 cars, even when “platooning” takes up MUCH more road capacity than 1 bus (road capacity used depends on distance and travel speed and road area occupied, including inter-vehicle gap). Passenger comfort also needs to be considered. But even assuming all bus passengers are seated and autonomous cars are platooned and cars have an average journey speed of 20% higher than the bus, and routes are 10% shorter, then autonomous cars occupy roughly 4 times more road capacity than the bus. Now, if the bus isn’t full, things aren’t as dramatic: if the 100 seat bus is on average 25% full, autonomous cars will occupy about the same road capacity as the bus. But this isnt a “fair” comparison for the bus, because the bus is not as likely to be not full in peak travel times when road capacity occupied is most important. That is, who cares if the big bus isnt full at 11am when the road isnt full either (at least from a road capacity point of view).

So, on a near full capacity road route serviced efficiently only or mainly by buses, moving passengers to autonomous cars won’t work: they require 4 times the road space, even allowing for platooning. For heavy rail vehicles (faster!) and double-decker buses, the figures are even WORSE for autonomous cars: autonomous cars ARE NOT an alternative to mass transit where tens of thousands of people need to get from A to B, at least with the current technology being commercialised.

So, what are they good for? Routes such as Northbourne have a practical (realistic, happy) capacity of around 1000-1500 vehicles per hour per lane (3000 – 4500 for the three lanes). The Capital Metro EIS modelling assumes that in 2021 with the greater population density coming with light rail, around 2500 cars will be using Northbourne in the AM peak hour, and up to 2000 passengers on the light-rail (all trams full). There will be no buses. So, assuming 1.2 people per car, that’s say, 5,000 people travelling down Northbourne. If they were all in normal cars (1.2 people per car), that’s 4200 cars, which is at or over the practical capacity: delays will be great and escalate with bad weather, accidents, anything going wrong.

But if those 5,000 people are instead travelling in autonomous cars with an average 2 people per car, only 2500 cars are needed. Even without the traffic flow optimisations which will come with autonomous cars (platooning, optimum use of signals, possibly higher speeds), the existing road capacity is more than adequate. With those flow optimisations, conservative analyses of traffic flow indicate a doubling of per-lane capacity (ie, from 1000-1500 to 2000-3000 cars per lane per hour).

As traveller numbers increase, the number of passengers with common (or on-route) sources and destinations increases even faster, and the average car occupancy will increase above 2.0, so required car numbers increase much more slowly than passenger numbers until the ceiling of 4 is reached (at over double the current travel-demand levels).

Canberra is blessed (or cursed, depending on your view) with an excellent road infrastructure, so using a shared fleet of autonomous cars as the primary transport system can work here, but won’t work in New York or London or Singapore peak periods (but nonetheless, is being looked at in all those places as providing “last mile” to and from the mass-transit hubs, and a way of improving mobility for those unable to use mass-transit).

Now, those cars travelling down Northbourne have to return, at least in the early parts of peak hour, back to pick up more commuters from (in this example) Gungahlin. There will be some “counter-flow” travellers to use some of these cars, but not many (as you can see by looking at the Northbourne northbound at 8am – it is fairly empty, as are the returning buses..). But note, these (often empty) return flow cars do not contribute to congestion – they are occupying otherwise unused road space.

Re battery/range, YES, range is less in cold weather because the batteries dont operate as efficiently, and some of their capacity is used for cabin heating. In hot/humid weather, some capacity is used for cooling. However, existing EV battery capacities are already adequate to operate a shared fleet with four default conservative assumptions of a 240km theoretical range, only charging the battery to 80%, recharging when it falls to 25% capacity, and recharging power of 75kW. The announced GM “Bolt” pure EV on sale at the end of the year in the USA) will have a theoretical range of 320km; Telsa superchargers operate at 120kW.

A common experience of Tesla EV owners is that in extreme cold (-25C), heaters use 10% of the battery and range falls by 30%. Canberra is fairly mild by comparison. BTW, you can change the assumptions of range and recharge power in the simulation: http://www.projectcomputing.com/resources/cacs/sim.html
and the parameters are described here: http://www.projectcomputing.com/resources/cacs/model.html

Maya123 1:12 pm 05 Feb 16

bj_ACT said :

Thanks gbates for those weird and wonderful ACTION bus routes. I now know why my sister in law complains about her daughters bus to school in Phillip from her place at Monash. According to Google maps 10 mins by car and 10km, taking Bus number 65 is 27km and 38 minutes. Given the walk to the bus stop and giving yourself 5 minute leeway for timing it’s no wonder she complained so much.

Here’s the complex route and number of stops from the transit app. I am going to vote this bus route of the Year! Does a commuter jumping on at Beasley st Torrrens know what has just preceded them?
http://transittimesapp.com/canberra/action-buses-bus-65-tuggeranong-woden.html

There are closer schools to Monash than Phillip. Monash Primary School, Caroline Chisholm School and Erindale College. If the student went to them they could cycle or walk to school. I find it strange when people ignore the provided local school and then complain about the bus access and bus travel times to one further away. ACTION shouldn’t be expected to provide a service ferrying children around Canberra when there is a provided local school, which the parents are choosing to ignore. We are so spoiled in Canberra with so many nearby provided schools. For some reality; how about children needing to catch the bus at 7am from over 50kms away to get to school, as some of my fellow class mates did. It took so long, because it wasn’t a direct 50kms; the schools buses wound in and out of minor roads and lanes to collect the students from farms and small settlements. That sort of puts the complaints about buses here into perspective; which is often a personal choice if the local school is ignored.

bj_ACT 11:53 am 05 Feb 16

Thanks gbates for those weird and wonderful ACTION bus routes. I now know why my sister in law complains about her daughters bus to school in Phillip from her place at Monash. According to Google maps 10 mins by car and 10km, taking Bus number 65 is 27km and 38 minutes. Given the walk to the bus stop and giving yourself 5 minute leeway for timing it’s no wonder she complained so much.

Here’s the complex route and number of stops from the transit app. I am going to vote this bus route of the Year! Does a commuter jumping on at Beasley st Torrrens know what has just preceded them?
http://transittimesapp.com/canberra/action-buses-bus-65-tuggeranong-woden.html

Raging Tempest 9:36 am 05 Feb 16

JC said :

Raging Tempest said :

Apart from the lack of availability of buses at night, the magical mystery tour routes are a disincentive to use the service. Using my routes as examples, it is 30 minutes from my bus stop to Tuggeranong on the 65 or 66 – 5km and we aren’t the first suburb it goes through. Its 40 minutes on the 67. It takes 45 minutes to walk it. Of course I’ll drive the 5km.
The whole system needs an overhaul to make it user friendly again.

Not much can be done about the mystery tour routings. The buses need to do these routes to find sufficient passengers to carry. Only way around it is to bulldoze the suburbs and start again with a far greater density.

Back in the days of yore (80s/90s) the routes were shorter through these same suburbs and it was around 30 minutes interchange to interchange. It can and has been done, and while I get the issue of rider numbers, the whole thing needs a complete revamp. An hour between interchanges is far too long and is a disincentive to use the service which then perpetuates the cycle.

Leon 8:21 am 05 Feb 16

rubaiyat said :

The best way to reduce travel times is to shorten the distances travelled or eliminate the journeys all together.

Well said, rubaiyat!
We wouldn’t have such a need for better public transport if a the planners did a better job.

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