3 March 2007

The peekaboo bus services!

| johnboy
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The Canberra Times informs us that the catastrophic changes to bus timetables are going to be reversed in part.

Over the next three to four months, some routes would be changed, in some cases to how they had operated. Other changes would occur sooner, with services added where overcrowding was occurring, he said.

So that’s as clear as mud then. Nothing like scheduling and route uncertainty over a four month period to get people using the bus.

It is nice to see they’ve decided that students should be able to get to school before school starts, one would have thought that was a priority but who are we to questions the great minds of the ACT Government? Ah, but wait, it gets better:

He [ACTION general manager Tom Elliott] also conceded further “sophisticated” long-term planning was needed.

“We certainly didn’t do that process with this network,” he said.

I’m sorry? So the Minister’s office called up one day and told you to slash services and you just pulled them out of a hat??

Another glorious day in Stantopia!

Incidentally wasn’t public transport in the intricate “Canberra Plan” that our brave leaders spent their first few years in Government fussing over rather than doing anything useful? Good to see that investment turning out so well.

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James-T-Kirk12:17 pm 05 Mar 07

When I were a lad, the bos service worked fine.

NOw it doesn’t. Why don’t they just roll out the old timetables……

“I’m sorry? So the Minister’s office called up one day and told you to slash services and you just pulled them out of a hat??” – Given the intelgincz levil if the avurag govmit person, – Seems like an acceptable way of dealing with the situation.

Hmmm – I *like* driving my car – And the company I work for pays for parking (Even in the city!! Go the power of the Canberra Centre Car Park) [ gota love individual agreements] – And the ATO return some of the car costs as part of my tax return – Doesn’t get better than that!!

And, finally, I don’t have to cope with psycopathic individuals who don’t bother to pay their fare, nor the wonderfull people who haven’t bathed all week.

I’ll keep the car!

el – Sunshine COast in Queensland has a fleet of smaller buses – 30 or 40 people – exactly what the smaller routes need, and bigger and more comfortable than Coasters.
So the machinery is out there.

The ACT Public Transport Strategy says that for every dollar spent on public transport between 2 and 3 dollars are saved in other costs – mainly road construction. It talks in millions, but I just simplified the sum.
The problem is cranky that you are looking at PT costs in isolation, rather than the whole transport picture – and that is what most governments do. This is probably why we don’t have more free PT – as miz said – if it was, the usage would skyrocket, and the daily rat running I and so many others have to do every morning to dodge the debacle that is Northbourne Ave would be history.
But on the back-flip – let’s just be happy that they saw the error and likely have learnt an important lesson from it, and get lobbying through the various channels to get the whole network sorted out better.

What I’ve been trying to figure out for a while is why there are no smaller vehicles for duties on quiet (near empty) bus routes. Something like Toyota Coasters perhaps? It’d have to have cheaper running costs than the old and breakdown prone oil-burners running now.

Lets see. Cost $83.9mill. Return $15.7mill. Balance = minus $68.2 mill.

So we are tipping $1.3 MILLION dollars PER WEEK into this ‘service’

Is this the best we can do to provide transport within the Territory?

I find it interesting that there has not been an increase in passenger numbers in recent history. The ACT population has not remained stagnant.
We have new suburbs popping up all over the place – could it be that these new suburbs dont have the infrastructure to encourage people to catch the bus.

Interesting facts about ACTION, from the ICRC report into ‘Determination of ACTION Bus Prices for 2006–07’:

* Operating costs in 2004-05 were 83.9 million dollars, with 15.7 million recovered through fares. This equates to an 18.7% recovery of costs through fares. This has been declining in the last 3 years, from 22.2% to 20.5%, and then 18.7%.

* The only increase in passenger numbers in recent history was following the introduction of Xpresso services.

* Concession fares account for 2/3’s of farebox revenue.

Intriguing question Seepi – though I doubt whether any public transport in any city in the world makes a profit. (If anyone knows a place I’d love to hear of it).

Public transport is a service, like libraries – while perhaps not everyone uses them, it is available to everyone. It would help though if it was a real alternative.

It’s in a govt’s interest that a city or town has efficient transport: it has a community value through keeping many more cars (and their extra pollution) off the roads, enabling people to get about the city cheaply and easily (well, it SHOULD!) so everyone can participate in the community and not be isolated because of transport difficulties. There are also safety issues when people are stranded at interchanges because of a flawed timetable.

A good transport system is attractive to everyone. This should be the aim of the re-think – to make it really workable, and also incorporate a public awareness campaign. Q: Why do so many drive to work when parking is seriously scarce and pricey (eg Civic, Barton, Woden)? What do people want? What would make them get on a bus? ACTION head honchos, think on that for a bit.

how many people would have to catch the bus for ACTION to make a profit?

What I loved about Perth when I was over the late last year, was that there are three free bus loops through the city (and one free bus around Freo). The buses run about every 5-10 minutes, connect with each other at different points and enable you to get all around the CBD and to major attractions quickly and without hassles.

Staying out the near the airport, I was glad to pay the normal fare anywhere else I went (completely reasonable amounts) but the free ‘CAT’ buses were brilliant – give us some ACT-CAT’s!!

ACTION could run a free City – King George’s/Manuka loop, a City – Dickson loop via the War Memorial and a City – ANU/Museum loop.

The bus service to my suburb is nearly non existent. Our nearest bus stop is a good 15-20 min walk up/down hill.
We were told by ACTION this week that they have no plan to have bus routes to our part of the suburb (despite only being 2yrs old).
On the other hand, if you live in Forde, according to the plan, you can expect a bus stop within 400m of every house.

ACTION speak “4 buses an hour at your stop”,converts to buses at something like 12.05, 12.07, 12.12 and 12.15 and the next bus at 1.05. I think they need to have a big rethink.

If they really want to be ‘green’ they should make the buses free – though I have heard (from an insider) that they don’t actually have enough buses to meet the demand if they did so. Not sure how they crunched the numbers to work that out though . . .

After fixing the overload problems they need to prioritise connections between routes, especially on weekends and after hours, because since the new timetable, missing a connection means waiting two hours. It’s just not a realistic option for those who would like to use the buses, and it’s particularly unfair on those for whom it’s the only option (eg young people, those unable to drive etc).

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