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On the buses

Madam Cholet 14 January 2010 44

ACTION bus (image care of abc.net.au)

ACTION bus (image care of abc.net.au)

I’m sure that this is not a new rant or rave, but having just had two days of using the buses in this swealtering heat I will give it a go.

Before I go too far into said rant, the point of my post is this – does anyone know if Action Buses have a plan to replace any of  their old fleet? I have heard a few things recently about new this and fantastic that, but haven’t actually seen anything materialise. What exactly do our fares pay for in the long term?

On Monday afternoon, in full knowledge that the old bus on my route would not be air conditioned, I still ran the gauntlet in order to get home slightly earlier. By the time I got off the bus I was so overheated that I thought I might throw up! At least I can say that all the windows were open, although even hurtling down the Monaro Highway was not enough to provide anything other than an extra blast of heat. It appears though on the old buses that the drivers area is air conditioned – just haven’t managed to extend to the paying passengers.

Thinking a bit more carefully about my trip today I decided to take the later bus which is always a new air conditioned model. Upon taking my seat I realised that the air con on the bus was not coping with the heat at all and we were essentially travelling in a super heated sealed box.

Over the years of travelling on the buses in Canberra, I have made a number of calls to ACTION asking what has to be done to get a newer bus on our route for a bit of cool relief at the end of a long day at work. I have been advised that bus drivers pick their own buses and unfortunately some of them prefer the old ones so nothing to be done. It seemed as if the school kids who have subsidised fares always got the newer buses, yet even with the kids on school holidays, we still miss out. Years later we are still being fobbed off with the old buses that break down frequently, and now it seems new ones that can’t cope with anything higher than 25 degrees outside.

When will “they” realise that no one is going to seriously consider taking the bus if the service is not improved. We are frequently advised not to leave children/dogs in vehicles on hot days, but Action are quite content to move passengers around Canberra in exactly the same conditions.

Thankfully back to driving the car tomorrow –  and air conditioned luxury. In an ideal world I would take the bus everyday if I could, however childcare obligations make that an impossible choice for now. Given the last few days though, I may consider driving on these days of extreme heat.


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44 Responses to On the buses
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Observing 12:45 pm 18 Jan 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

I’ll take that as amusing sarcasm

You can take it with a fried egg on top for all I care – I very, very obviously wasn’t talking about you.

Cool! I prefer poached over fried though, so I’ll take it with a poached egg thanks.

Hells_Bells74 8:29 am 18 Jan 10

“Many of the orange buses are mainly used in peak hours only and for school runs and see little or no use at all on weekends”

I found the orange buses to be in use a lot more on the weekends on my 300 series run, because on the weekends it turns into a 12 and you have to alight and change buses at Belconnen weekends and nights, so they probably figure for just a Belconnen to Evatt run instead of all the way across town in the week, when they use mostly the green buses.

The 56 I used to catch sometimes too was always (and I do mean always) an orange bus (weekends and weekdays). That went from Gungers (through Evatt) to Belco to the City and looped back.

One of my main beefs especially when I used to have to open and close the shop (in the city) on weekends and it made life difficult not having that 300 series to work with. Real difficult when the intertown only ran half hourly for connecting.

Must say it was worth the extra walk to my house and hour long trip for me to get on that 56 at nights and weekends, as opposed to an almost hour-long connecting wait at Belco that seemed to always get me after work.

Prospector 9:33 pm 17 Jan 10

Although the air conditioned green buses only make up about 30 per cent of the fleet, they probably provide about 50 to 60 per cent of the services operated by ACTION…check out the ACTION Annual Reports to find out more. They clock up far more daily use than the orange buses – deliberate policy to spread the benefits of the low floor, air conditioned as widely as possible as part of the government’s accessibility policies I gather.

Many of the orange buses are mainly used in peak hours only and for school runs and see little or no use at all on weekends.

You can check out which services on your local route are likely to have green buses by going to the on-line timetables pages of the ACTION site – they show which services are ‘wheelchair accessible” …most of these are run with green buses “subject to operational availability”…

Hells_Bells74 4:44 pm 16 Jan 10

miz said :

The new green buses have less seating and less poles to hold onto – and more people swinging from straps and landing on top of the people sitting in the sideways seats. Poor design*

*unless you are in a wheelchair, in which case, it’s MADE for you!
(I have NEVER seen anyone in a wheelchair use a bus designed with them in mind, but have seen plenty of people toppling over).

AND the seats are smaller and very uncomfortable for people with generous bums, like me.

+100 for all your points and I don’t even have a generous bum but a bony one, hardly any padding on those tiny seats, ouch when bumpy!

ML-585 12:03 pm 16 Jan 10

Sir Pompously said :

Cannot find details regarding the Mercedes Benz 0305, 0305G, MAN SL200 and Leyland National seating figures.

Sir P, The O305s and SL200s had the same configuation as the MkI Renault PR100.2: 42 seats. The O305Gs seated 65, the SG192s seated 71 (except 510 which seated 69). The Leyland Nationals seated 39 and the Volvo B58s seated 41.

In conclusion, the current crop of buses do seat more passengers than the older buses, due to their extra length.

fgzk 6:48 am 16 Jan 10

Did I say how cool the Transport employees club web site is.

The forum is a real Gem. This post from the forum is all about this RA post and the “give way to buses” RiotAct post.

http://actbus.net/forum/index.php?topic=2175.msg19435;topicseen#msg19435 .

Got to love our bus drivers. Thank you.

fgzk 6:39 am 16 Jan 10

Thanks RiotAct for once again bring me 2 local sites that make me smile. The Retired ACT Transport Employees Club web site is so cool.

miz 10:00 pm 15 Jan 10

The new green buses have less seating and less poles to hold onto – and more people swinging from straps and landing on top of the people sitting in the sideways seats. Poor design*

*unless you are in a wheelchair, in which case, it’s MADE for you!
(I have NEVER seen anyone in a wheelchair use a bus designed with them in mind, but have seen plenty of people toppling over).

AND the seats are smaller and very uncomfortable for people with generous bums, like me.

bd84 9:50 pm 15 Jan 10

Eirlys said :

By the by I experienced what I believe the height of rudeness on a bus the other day.

1. It was hot
2. the bus was getting full.

A man who refused to move to the back to accommodate other people loudly berated the driver for allowing other people on the bus (there was plenty of room), because it was too hot. When the driver was just trying to be helpful to the people heading to the far reaches of the bus route.

He (the passenger) then proceeded to loudly complain for the remainder of the time that he spent on the bus about how hot it was and the amount of people on the bus (in peak hour on the only route that goes to a particlar part of Watson- so eyerolls were made at him). It made me want to ask him what he expected from public transport, as it is not a Chauffeur driven experience, and of course to grow up a little.

Personally I like to feel like the bus is being used to its full extent, and a little bit of discomfort to get me home for less then the price of a tank of petrol is perfectly fine. And like someone has already said, if I really objected I would ride my bicycle to work.

It would actually be more interesting to see which routes had a higher incidence of air-conditioned buses being used.

I would have just started a loud conversation with the person next to me about how much of an absolute —- the guy was for being so rude as to not move up a few steps to let the people standing outside baking in the sun onto the bus and how such people should be standing in front of the bus and not in it. It’s alwyas fun to ridicule people that way without actually talking to them.

cleo said :

NickD Yes so is my car, I don’t have airconditing, and put up with the heat, I try and park somewhere shady so I don’t come back to a hot car.

But then your car gets dirty with all the sap and leaves from the trees and birds crap on it too.. sun is fine for my car!

Anyway, I don’t see why people would be complaining about it being so hot on the bus. They should just be thankful that the bus actually showed up. That’s something within itself for ACTION.

TP 3000 9:07 pm 15 Jan 10

ML-585 said :

The rear windows are locked on buses fitted with air conditioning because to open them when the air conditioning is on reduces the a/c’s efficiency. Despite this, passengers do from time to time force them open and break the locks in doing so.

The window locks cannot be opened with an allen key. A better solution if you are on an air conditioned bus when the a/c is not working is to pop open the roof hatch. But don’t do it if the a/c is working.

This also works as the newest buses don’t have windows that can open at the rear. Which I found out after being in a bus where it was 39.5 degrees inside the bus & 34.6 (ABC Clock) outside. Just so everyone knows in the newer buses, if you look up into the grill thing you can see the inside temperature.

cartdog said :

Is it just me, or are our buses coming out with less and less seating?
Bring back the MAN buses I say.

The newest (standard) buses are MAN’s. Partly the reason behind less seating is the 2 wheelchair bays & a few minor modifications to other parts of the buses.

Woody Mann-Caruso 6:08 pm 15 Jan 10

I’ll take that as amusing sarcasm

You can take it with a fried egg on top for all I care – I very, very obviously wasn’t talking about you.

Ryan 6:04 pm 15 Jan 10

cartdog said :

Bring back the MAN buses I say.

The 30 most recent buses delivered to ACTION are in fact MANs. And there’s about sixty more on the way.

Maybe not as good as the old MAN SL200’s but hey, the new ones have air con.

Sir Pompously 6:02 pm 15 Jan 10

Will, this is the current fleet and its details regarding seating. From reading the codes, this is what I understand them to be. From oldest in the current fleet to newest in the fleet, then Midi Buses, then Articulated. Cannot find details regarding the Mercedes Benz 0305, 0305G, MAN SL200 and Leyland National seating figures.

Renault (MACK) PR100.2 mkI – 42
Renault (MACK) PR100.2 mkII – 43
Renault (Some badged MACK) PR100.3 – 49
Irisbus (Renault) Agoraline – 46 (However only has one door)
Scania L94UB CNG – 45
MAN 18.310 & 18.320 – 45

Dennis Dart SLF Midi Bus – 27

Renault (MACK) PR180.2 Articulated mkI – 60-65 depending on the fleet number
Renault (MACK) PR180.2 Articulated mkII – 69

Air Conditioned buses are not exactly few and far between, however when they are allocated to routes, or a drivers shift, they generally flow so they are found more often than not on the Intertown or those services which require a Low Floor Bus (And there is patronage for something more than a midi bus). Some buses are allocated to a driver for their shift, then you have ones which will have a type allocated to them (CNG Bus or Midi for example). They are the ones the drivers have to take, then everyone else basically gets whatever is left over. Buses allocated are allocated for a reason, and the Air Con buses are generally allocated first to the Intertown. Air Con breaking down is rare (It does not happen constantly, nor consistantly enough for it to be anything other than a maintenance issue placing the bus out of service for 1 or maybe 2 days), and when it is broken down it is generally fixed by next day or within a few days, and the bus is not often in service with one broken (I Stress not often). If anyone has a problem with aircon, they can always complain on 13 17 10, or email into ACTION advising them of the fault with the vehicle if you feel the desire. My route is serviced by mostly non-aircon buses, as are all the others around me. Hell I travelled on a non-aircon the other day and sure it was hot, but I have been in worse conditions. I mean, I have survived 21 Canberran summers, and endured school buses fuller than most Xpresso’s or Intertowns in heat about the same (maybe more) without complaint.

Eirlys 4:40 pm 15 Jan 10

It is intresting you say that cartdog, because that is what a bus driver said to me, bigger buses less doors (no back door, which is relatively odd) and less seating

cartdog 4:28 pm 15 Jan 10

Is it just me, or are our buses coming out with less and less seating?

Bring back the MAN buses I say.

Eirlys 3:56 pm 15 Jan 10

I catch the same bus route every day. The 39 to Civic and then the 2 Deakin, and back again.

As I catch the buses every day I know which times the buses will be that have air conditiong. It seems to me (but of course this could be generalising) that in this case the same buses service the route, or at least the same type of buses at the same times.

All this means is that I know what time I need to be catching the bus to avoid the largest group of people, and also the best time to catch an air conditioned bus. If you know your trip, then you will know what buses arrive when and it is generally a nice surprise if there is an air-conditioned bus. My 39 route is less likely to have an airconditioned bus because (probably) they are harder to move in the smaller streets.

I must admit I haven’t truly experienced air conditioning that was broken but then again I am not lucky enough to be catching a 300 bus to Woden. (They nearly always get air conditioned buses in peak hour). But I have always wondered why the buses’ windows in Canberra are the small open on the inside windows, in my native Newcastle they are slidey windows. But I have learnt to adapt.

By the by I experienced what I believe the height of rudeness on a bus the other day.

1. It was hot
2. the bus was getting full.

A man who refused to move to the back to accommodate other people loudly berated the driver for allowing other people on the bus (there was plenty of room), because it was too hot. When the driver was just trying to be helpful to the people heading to the far reaches of the bus route.

He (the passenger) then proceeded to loudly complain for the remainder of the time that he spent on the bus about how hot it was and the amount of people on the bus (in peak hour on the only route that goes to a particlar part of Watson- so eyerolls were made at him). It made me want to ask him what he expected from public transport, as it is not a Chauffeur driven experience, and of course to grow up a little.

Personally I like to feel like the bus is being used to its full extent, and a little bit of discomfort to get me home for less then the price of a tank of petrol is perfectly fine. And like someone has already said, if I really objected I would ride my bicycle to work.

It would actually be more interesting to see which routes had a higher incidence of air-conditioned buses being used.

ML-585 2:03 pm 15 Jan 10

Let’s get this straight:

Observing said :

They don’t fix the air con on some routes at all and haven’t for weeks.

Observing said :

And the same non air-conditioned buses are used for the same route. I travel on it regularly. Its (sic) the same bus. Same id number. Same driver. I swear, there are some people that shut their ears and eyes and refuse to except (sic) reality even when its (sic) standing right in front of them.

So to support your claim that “they don’t fix the air con on some routes”, you then claim that you regularly catch the same non-airconditioned bus route. How can they “fix” the a/c on a bus that doesn’t have a/c fitted?

If what you actually meant was that some routes (or “trips” – a single instance of a particular route) are regularly operated by non-air conditioned buses, then you’ll get no argument from me. As the Americans say: do the math. ACTION has approx 100 air conditioned buses from a fleet of about 400. (Source: Wikipedia and this website)

ML-585 12:48 pm 15 Jan 10

Mordd said :

Personally I take issue with them locking all the windows shut on buses whenever they put aircon in them in the first place.

My best suggestion is carry an allen key with the right size to unlock the bus windows, then if you’re on a packed bus just go for it, like the driver is going to notice anyway with that many people jammed onboard during peak half-hour.

The rear windows are locked on buses fitted with air conditioning because to open them when the air conditioning is on reduces the a/c’s efficiency. Despite this, passengers do from time to time force them open and break the locks in doing so.

The window locks cannot be opened with an allen key. A better solution if you are on an air conditioned bus when the a/c is not working is to pop open the roof hatch. But don’t do it if the a/c is working.

Observing 11:52 am 15 Jan 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

i had to catch the bus once or twice and it was hot and i want to whinge even though i’m never catching the bus again because i have childcare responsibilities and i hope my car doesn’t get hot tomorrow or i will have to start hiring a refrigerated truck around or omg i will like totally throw up and a moving bus with the windows open is exactly the same as a parked car with the windows up the laws of physics don’t apply to me don’t make me call somebody about this

I’ll take that as amusing sarcasm, since none of that applies to me. Catch the bus regularly; hardly ever whinge unlike other regular posters; have no childcare responsibilities; don’t care about my car getting hot because its easy to wind down the windows; and a bus with closed windows and jammed with people has nothing to do with a bus with open windows.

Observing 11:40 am 15 Jan 10

Ryan said :

Observing said :

I think that comment comes from someone that is either a) trolling or b) never taken an ACTION bus.

Given he owns this website, I’d go with option c) Neither.

Observing said :

They use the same buses for the same route at a scheduled time. As someone mentioned, bus drivers choose their favourite buses and keep using them.

Buses are allocated to drivers at the depots, at least until about 4-5pm. Before that time, they get no say in what they take. All buses with bike racks (which is every air-con bus and a handful of the older ones) are allocated set shifts. If the driver on your route hasn’t got a bike rack bus, chances are its a rarity you’ll ever see an aircon bus on that route on the particular run that you catch.

Observing said :

especially since I’ve noticed often windows are not opened

Surely not that hard to reach up and open it?

So you have amazing plastic arms that open up windows across several sitting people? Wow, you should use those skills for profit! Think about the realitities of bus travel before making that comment. And before you say “You could ask” that often does not work. You can ask until you turn blue (or red in this case) and they often don’t do it.

Observing said :

We get a few days around the 40 mark each year, so I’d say they are used to it.

Not in my experience. Not for the length of time with the number of days in a row that we’ve had with the high minimums. They are certainly not an ‘every year’ thing to happen.

And the same non air-conditioned buses are used for the same route. I travel on it regularly. Its the same bus. Same id number. Same driver. I swear, there are some people that shut their ears and eyes and refuse to except reality even when its standing right in front of them.

Anyway, looks like my answer is definitely a) trolling by the looks of it.

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