Sigh. The service just seems to be getting worse and worse.
Begin rant here (read on only if you are frustrated with ACTION too)
Love or hate Alistair and the way he can twist a stat but, if true, this service is going down the tubes (no pun to underground rail intended) at a ridiculous speed.
As far as the Dead Running issue goes, I understand the problems with remote depots but I’m less clear on why buses, at least for routes in Belconnen and Tuggeranong, don’t start and end nearer these depots. As well, I don’t understand why buses in more central locations aren’t housed at interchanges or a more central depot rather than driven to the current depots. We need a lot more information to see why other options such as overnight security guards and CCTV at interchanges or one or two extra depots (for parking only – ie not maintenance) are not cheaper than the cost of dead running. Also, it is not clear why a bus ever should be dead running. If a bus is on the road, it should be able to pick up passengers, albeit probably only a handful, and deposit them en route with very little impact on time.
Honestly, I thought that MyWay would better target ACTION’s services but instead they seem to be getting more inefficient while at the same time exponentially more expensive. I’ve seen posts and threads on RA reporting that Government subsidies are around four or five times the revenue – the latest being the 2012 budget figures showing $21m in ticket sales and $101m in subsidies. This seems to suggest, very simplistically, that the true cost of a trip is somewhere between $10 ($2.50 * 4) to $ $20 ($4.00 * 5). I know that Canberra is spread out but this is crazy! There must be a solution.
For starters we should be getting a lot more information. ACTION should be publicising the cost and revenue for each route. I know that many don’t want specific route expenses and revenue published because this would encourage public pressure to cut or limit less profitable routes. I’m not suggesting that outcome – far from it – but we need to be able to find more cost effective service solutions. With MyWay, the ACT Government now has this information so that they can cut services when they choose, such as the Causeway, but we don’t get to see the numbers for all services so that they can be accountable.
The Government has always stated that smaller buses in less populated areas is not cost effective but I for one would like to see the costings for this and other options such as dedicated multi occupant taxis or subsidies for personal transport to and from bus stops on main routes. (A little out there I know but, in this technological age, they could even introduce a cheaper registration, insurance and stamp duty system that allows people – who could afford it – to buy and drive cars only within a certain radius of home to more regular bus services).
As far as light rail is concerned, the ACT Government now have said that the cost of light rail versus buses is disproportionately expensive but we haven’t yet seen detailed costings. I’ve always been in two minds about light rail but the way those costings have been managed is pushing me towards thinking that they are hiding something and I am starting to lean towards the merits of light rail over buses.