10 October 2006

New bus timetables

| johnboy
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Bill Stefaniak thinks the new bus timetables, commencing in December, are going to reduce services outside of peak times re-inforcing the roll of public transport as a shuttle for working commuters and not actually a transport system at all.

The new routes are up on the ACTION site any bus users out there want to comment on how the changes will effect you?

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This would explain why some ACTION drivers ‘volunteer’ their time (and use govt resources) to drive union members to rallies.

I thought all ACTION drivers were on a composite wage system?

I would add too, that much more service could be provided for the same dollars if ACTION’s wage rates and employment conditions were more in line with other transport operators. However, its obviously cheaper to cut services than take on wage rates and well entrenched employment conditions. The end result is that ACTION exists to employment several hundred TWU members on very favourable terms rather than to provide a high quality and cost efficient service to the public.

Samuel – the scheduling system ACTION uses is a Canadian one called Hastus – they’ve been using it for about 10 years. Scheduling works off a ruleset which includes times and distances between various places throughout Canberra, as well as drivers employment conditions – the point to point times are normally worked out by TWU driver delegates. The reason it schedules “deadheads” is largely to do with distance being cheaper than time – it is cheaper to move a bus quickly from one end of town to the other deadrunning than to get it in position on a meandering route. That this is the case is basically a product of ACTION’s very high driver wage rates and generous employment conditions.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart10:03 pm 11 Oct 06

Re: Belconnen Interchange in Tuggeranong…it might look like a mistake, but it is an unfortunate insight into ACTION’s schedule production system. It, unfortunately has no concept of distance, and it is not uncommon for ACTION management to force it to create shifts and timetables all over again because it decided that a driver can finish a run in Tuggeranong and be ready to start another run in Belconnen in twenty minutes.

So called “dead runs” where a driver has to rush an empty bus from one location to another before starting the next run is not uncommon, and no system will ever remove the need for dead runs, but ACTION’s system (I can’t remember the name, but I do know it’s Canadian) seems to specialise in dead runs. I can’t help but think ACTION would have more actual services and lower fuel bills if they didn’t have so many dead runs.

Look! Belco interchange is in Tuggers! see here http://www.action.act.gov.au/2006NewRoutes/Route_966.pdf

The Xpresso I usually catch now has a 7 number but no change. No complaints there.

However my teenager catches buses a lot – it is usually a pain trying to get a connection to/from Woden (at Erindale) on weekends/evenings after his casual Maccas shifts. I can’t see where to find out if the connections will now be better? It is easy to get to Woden on weekdays as the bus swings from Tuggers to Woden via our suburb, but for some odd reason it doesn’t on the weekends which is a major hassle. I was hoping this glitch would be ironed out but it isn’t.

My complaint to ACTION and the Minister – will be interesting to see what sort of reply I get:

“I’ve just had a look at the proposed timetables for route 313 and I must say they take me back many years. Hourly services instead of half hourly during the day was the norm back then. Even half hourly services are so infrequent that they make using buses more trouble than its worth, hourly even more so. It strikes me that ACTION is admitting defeat on its efforts to grow patronage, and the government is clearly abandoning whatever policy aims it had regarding growing public transport usage and encouraging people away from reliance on cars.

I rarely use buses myself – pretty much because of their lack of convenience which largely boils down to frequency and choice. My experience is that I can organise myself to be at a bus stop in the morning at a particular time – my choice then is time, ie am I happy to spend 45 mins on the bus vs 20 mins driving. The bigger problem for me is the relatively early time your evening peak finishes – I work at Barton, and convenient services on route 313 means I need to be at City Interchange by about 6.30 or else my trip home goes from 45 mins to well over an hour … again vs 20 mins driving. The choice is really a no-brainer!

Members of my family do however use buses to get around, and the regression back to hourly offpeak services reduces the convenience and flexibility they have in getting around. While half hourly service is just acceptable, hourly becomes more trouble than its worth. Be held up for 2 minutes at the wrong time and you’ve got an hour’s extra wait on your hands. Hardly an incentive to use public transport?

So, my question is what are these changes looking to achieve? Improving the attractiveness and useability of public transport is obviously not the objective, so what is? It seems to me that if ACTION is going to provide only a bare bones/token service, why bother?”

If there were at least some extra peak hour services in my area, to make up for the reductions in off peak services, that would be some consolation. However, despite buses being extremely packed in peak hours to/from Giralang/Kaleen to Belconnen/Civic, it doesn’t appear we have got any extra peak hour services that I can see. Often these buses get so full that is very difficult to get off the bus before the interchange, and sometimes people can’t get on the bus. When the buses get this full they also run late making it difficult to catch connecting buses.

This doesnt really affect me, right now.. but it may in a few weeks…

Nice to see the public is being looked after..

Also, hi 😀

New ACTION Slogan:

“Better hope your friends have a car”

Well all I can say is I’m glad the changes are coming in after uni ends. Currently the intertown route I live on comes twice an hour and gets to both unis at mostly useful times for classes. After the change it’ll only come once an hour and for a shorter period of the day (and on the odd occasion this girl gets dropped at the Civic interchange in the morning to get back home there’ll be nothing until almost 10am). Far easier to keep up my walking to the mall regime — or begging lifts.

barking toad5:05 pm 11 Oct 06

you don’t strap gerbils to feet

ask jodie’s brother’s mate

Settle down, Mr Ferret, Thumper was simply mistaken.

He actually meant gerbils…

Growling Ferret4:44 pm 11 Oct 06

You are not strapping me or any of my brothers onto your stinky SES boot wearing feet Thumper – or there will be a Ferret led revolution!

How long does anyone think it’ll take before the weekend services go back to how they are currently?

Just imagine the ruckus created when all those parents who have to start dropping little Tyson/Barton/McKenzie or little Tegan/Montana/Nevaeh off at the mall/friends/work because the buses don’t run early enough, start jamming the switchboard at ACTION or Stanhope’s office to complain about this shitful state of affairs.

I’ll wait at the Jerrabombra train station.

It was upsetting, but I’m not normally the sort of person to burst into tears over such an event.

That day for me was full of frustration. When I finished work I simply wanted to get home and relax.
That coupled with the fact that I had no mobile phone credit (hence my asking to use Actions’ phone), and no money to buy credit or catch a cab home untill the next day when my pay came through. As it was I had to scrounge around in my bag to find change to call my partner to come and get me.
It was the entirety of the situation that had me in tears, that mans attitude just topped it off.

That said, it was still no excuse for him to not let me make a 30 second phone call to get a lift home and rectify the situation in a quick and responsible manner.

I have now submitted a formal complaint to action about his behaviour.

ok, so far for the weekdays, i’ll have to hang around school for longer waiting for a bus home. dont know why, but there’s a bus at 3:32, and a bus at 3:40…and their the exact same route, and their going the exact same place! How stupid can you get!
Ok, next year when i’m in college it’ll be harder, but i’ll deal with that when next year comes around.

Weekends: Oh…my…fucking..goodness. I used to be able to catch just one bus to say..woden. Now i have to catch two. And my grandparents for example, they live on the other side of the 31*, knowing that they just have to catch one bus to get to my place. Now they have to catch three. Thats not convenience.

balloons could work.
the other thing that shits me is the coin action dropped on those bike racks on the buses. why not spend it on simple pushies that you could fang around the ‘burbs on as done in europe? a pushie library…
by the way, is a cyclist on the green strip worth double or triple points?

Currently, the intertown bus I catch runs at least twice hourly up til 6pm. With the new timetable, there is only one service each hour between 9 and 3 pm. Each of these services reach Civic at 10 past the hour, which means if I need to be in Civic on the hour I will have to get there fifty minutes earlier (where currently I can be in Civic either twenty past the hour, or ten to the hour. Not convenient.

Weeknights: Hourly. Not much difference there. The last bus leaves Belco later in the new timetable, which is good.

Weekend: Once an hour. It’s a little hard to read the timetable as it doubles back from Fraser West on the same line. But the first bus to Belco I could catch runs over an hour later on the new timetable.

Sunday: Couldn’t get to Belco before 10am (currently 7:54am). Wouldn’t be convenient for people working at the mall, I imagine. Can’t get home after 6:30pm.

The bus is my transport for places I can’t walk to. I understand how upsetting it is KK when they fail you.

“They’ll only take it seriously when you walk in there with a sawn-off shottie and a couple of scalps hanging from your belt, KK.”

Nah, a complete waste of time. I think Crazy Chester tried that with the CIT, and that didn’t do her any good!

They’ll only take it seriously when you walk in there with a sawn-off shottie and a couple of scalps hanging from your belt, KK.

Im planning on it.

I wanted to wait untill a time that I could maturely and not abusively express my feelings towards the situation as I am well aware that people will take you far more seriously when you speak or write in a calm and responsible manner.

That evening and the following day I was feeling pretty emotional about the whole situation and didnt want to risk coming off as an angry nutbag.

When I make my complaint, Id like to ensure it is taken seriously.

why not take a hot air balloon? they always seem to be landing in the middle of town in time for work!

like the one about to land in the middle of parkes way just before the major roundabout outside defence this morning ? 😛

KK, a couple of Saturday evenings ago I was waiting in Civic for a 300-series bus to Woden: when the particular one I was expecting didn’t show up after 15 mins of it’s due arrival time, I rang the 13 17 10 number (the supervisor’s office was unoccupied.) to find out where it had gotten too. What a waste of time that was: the woman had no idea why it hadn’t arrived or where it even was, and then put me on hold to find out. Because I was on a mobile, I hung up after 10 minutes of waiting before my phone bill blew out any further.

Looks like we’re going back to the good old days of when Mike Castle (Mr Bushfire) was one of the bigwigs in ACTION: industrial action, services being cancelled at the drop of a hat, and useless customer service.

Im certainly not impressed.
I catch the Expresso 702 when I finish work at 6pm, it normally comes at about 8 past 6. Now it will go through the Civic interchange at 5:53.
There is also one going through at 5:08 and 5:30.

How is that a help to anyone who finishes work at 6pm? Sure, if I finish at 5 or 5:30 I can catch my bus home, but the shifts I work dictate that I finish at either 4 or 6.
When I finish at 4 I will have to sprint to the bus (it comes at 4:06) or wait untill 5:20 to catch the next one.

I catch 4 different buses during the working week. Of those 4, 3 have been affected, one of which is entriely removed.

Thats not the extent of my beef with Action though, and I have never had a problem with them untill last week.
I went to catch my bus home and it never came. So I walked up to the interchange, proceeded to get into a discussion with the guy in the action office. He told me it was entirely the depots fault and that the route had failed, but then told me all he could do for me was put me on a bus to Belconnen and then “hopefully” (his words, not mine) get me onto a bus home from there. So in other words, he just wanted me out of his office so I wasnt his problem anymore. I said “not good enough, im female, its now dark, I dont feel comfortable with catching a bus to Belco to ‘hopefully’ get another bus home, I dont want to be waiting around in the Belconnen Interchange for any amount of time when its dark”. He said “sorry thats all I can do for you.”
So I asked to use his phone to call my partner to come and collect me and he says yes, and immediately walks past me, out of the office to talk to one of his bus driver buddies.
So I left. As I walked out he saw me and started walking back to the office, so I called out “Thanks for the use of your phone mate” and he laughed in my face.

I then walked down to the payphones in civic and called my partner in tears.

Then two days later i was waiting for my bus to work and it never came. I was waiting with two elderly ladies and this time I had credit on my phone, so I called Action, was informed that the bus had broken down and had to wait for the next one.
The ladies I was standing next to were very appreciative to find out what was going on and to not have to stand there wondering.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart11:34 am 11 Oct 06

Well, seeing as you asked Bonfire, I see some good points, such as the scrapping of flexichaos, the peak services seem good and I’ve noticed a few improvements to industrial and mini-town centres during peak hours, but outside that, if you miss a bus, you might as well just go home.

one of the beauties of the current system is that if you miss one bus, there is a decent chance that you will find another bus which goes a different way to the same area in the next twenty minutes or so…this was made more difficult with the Network ‘05 changes when ACTION decided it would be a good idea for all buses going through areas to go through them in the same five minutes and then not be seen for half an hour or more.

Unfortunately the new system seems to have no lateness tolerance…all the buses seem to go at the same time, and very few seem to go near each other during the day any more.

I’m disappointed about the strange way that services are being cancelled during the middle of the day with signs in the timetables saying “see route xyz” which just happens to be an infrequent route which goes a different way.

Weekends are a joke, moreso than now, and the middle of the day during the week seems to come close to emulating current weekend services.

I’m also a tad concerned about the articulated (long/bendy) buses being used for peak intertown services, presumably at the expense of the school runs which need them…and ACTION scrapped plans to buy new artics a while back.

That pretty much sums it up, but if you want more see http://samuelgordonstewart.com/2006/10/actions-network-06-heaven-forbid-you-miss-the-bus

why not take a hot air balloon? they always seem to be landing in the middle of town in time for work!

I’m sure Sam will be jamming the 2CC phone lines right now!

i see ‘flexibus’ has been shitcanned.

the two times i tried to use it i was mightily unimpressed.

i was shicker at the time though, which might have been a factor…

whats samuel gunzel stewarts take on the changes ?

“so are we saying that all government activities should be cost and profit driven? what do we want to call essential services that cannot be run at a profit and need to be paid for with taxes, coz thats what taxes are supposed to be for “

No. The point being made (and quite validly) is that as tax payers we should be getting the best possible service for our investment (our taxes). Government services by their very nature consume $$, they don’t make it. But that is no excuse for unnecessary inefficiencies, incompetence or wastage of resources. Don’t fall into the trap of equating strong business control with the need to make profit, in the case of government they are not related.

The “roll” of public transport? Will they be driving them more recklessly?

I think ACTION do a reasonable job in peak hour considering a bus network is not ideal for mass transit, and Canberra would be better served by light rail linking town centres, employment centres and work centres – with buses shuttling around those areas dropping you close to your required destination.

However, thats not going to happen until Im Chief Minister.

These route changes wont really affect me. I prefer to use the bus for daily travel to and from work and those times are unchanged.

There is still odd route decisions: any of the 50 series buses should be routed down william webb off ginninderra and then onto william slim. either that or put more than ONE bus stop on william slim.

is there any particular route that has been shafted ?

Yet again sunday seems to be restricted to getting home before 6.30.

Good thing I have the stanley steamer in the garage.

so are we saying that all government activities should be cost and profit driven? what do we want to call essential services that cannot be run at a profit and need to be paid for with taxes, coz thats what taxes are supposed to be for

Mr Evil – I was thinking using buses even smaller than that (eg Toyota Coasters or even Hiace commuter style vehicles). The wage issue is always a problem.

Also, I’d be interested to see how good an idea ACTION really have of their running costs. A reliable source told me the other days that ACTION bus drivers volunteer their time (God bless ’em) using ACTION buses to take union members to rallies…

As a bus user the new timetables don’t appear to be too much of a problem for me at this stage, as I am mainly only using the services during peak time. That being said, I do feel sorry for some people (not the unemployable/useless members of society – they can walk for all I care!) who may need to use the services during the day.

I think the fact that some services don’t seem to commence until 8 or 9am on a weekend is ridiculous though.

VY, ACTION has tried smaller buses on some routes with those horrid Pommy Dennis buses that they purchased about 8 years ago. I don’t know how much money it really saves though as most of the cost of operating the buses is probably going in wages to pay the person driving them. Maybe we’ll start seeing more Indian or Philipino drivers in the near future?

barking toad8:42 am 11 Oct 06

All the more reason to build the warp-speed multi-million dollar bus lane so that the buses that won’t be running cannot run on it

Buses, like any service offering, need to be based around client demand to have any real chance of success. Of course it would be very difficult to rationalise services when everyone uses buses differently, but surely there are methods for delivering more effective service, which should lead to greater client numbers, more cash flow, and so on. Has anyone (ACTION included) ever done a real analysis of passenger movements? What about on routes where buses aren’t full? Is it possible to run a bus fleet that varies more in vehicle size (eg largest articulated vehicles between major interchanges, minibuses/vans on suburban routes)?

Surely there must be better ways to accomodate Canberra’s needs than just cutting some services in big chunks. A more granular approach to planning is needed, ACTION!

Alice Russel-Wallace8:16 am 11 Oct 06

Basically this means that if you can’t afford to run a car, then your options for moving about Canberra are incredibly restricted. I am not at all happy about the change to weekend timetables that mean that I can’t use route 42 to leave home before 8am on a Saturday and 9am on a Sunday. Let alone the ongoing absurdity of not being able to catch buses after 6:30pm on a Sunday afternoon.

Still no buses out to the airport I see.
Of course, since they appear to be cutting offpeak services, buses to the airport would be useless to me, as if they don’t run them during peak periods, why would they run them off peak, when shifties such as myself might consider using them.
Although, an hour on the bus to be at work by 7am, fuck it, i’ll stay in bed till 615, then drive to work in time, and none of the traffic problems people harp about.
(except running the ‘tradie gauntlet’ down william hovell and through glenloch int.

oh don’t worry, they’ll all read it.

Alice Russel-Wallace7:54 am 11 Oct 06

This will mean that if I have a work shift on a Sunday (which I often do) I will have to catch a taxi into work (a $20 taxi for a daily wage of $90 before tax…that is not a good return). This is not good at all, how is anyone meant to get into any of the town centres without a car? I thought we were all meant to be moving towards public transport anyway? Perhaps the comments posted here could be compiled and forwarded to the Legislative Assembly, ACTION and the Canberra Times?

ACTION might not want to know, but I’m interested in hearing from bus users how it will actually effect them.

What the point/

The guy from ACTION said we are not asking for comments. This is the way it will be done.

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