Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meeting Our Transport Challenges: How's it travelling?

Perhaps the most tangible part of the Victorian Government's 2006 'Meeting Our Transport Challenges' plan is a program of service improvements to metropolitan bus routes.

To set the context to this, it should be recalled that despite extended trading and working hours, the average Melbourne bus ran every 40 minutes before going to bed at 7pm. Almost nothing ran on Sundays, meaning that if you lived away from trains and trams public transport simply did not exist for most hours of the week. At that time Melbourne's buses were easily the nation's worst; even smaller cities like Adelaide, Perth and Canberra ran more Sunday and evening services than we did.

MOTC changed this by introducing minimum standards to bring at least an hourly service to most areas until 9pm, seven days a week. Public holiday schedules on the upgraded routes were also standardised, improving usability and legibility.

While there were smaller earlier upgrades, the real gains under the MOTC policy started in late 2006. These ocurred over several phases, with Phase Three having just finished. Hence it's now a good time to look at the bus services available today and compare them with how things were three years ago.

The most striking difference has been the doubling of the number of routes with Sunday service. Almost as significant is the number of routes that run until at least 9pm. The greatest change is undocumented here but would be those services that (i) run at 8pm on a Sunday or (ii) run on Good Friday and Christmas Day. In both cases the increase in the number of routes with service would be five to ten times. The least change has been in after 9pm service; since these are outside MOTC standards the only significant increases have come through the introduction of two SmartBus routes (900 & 901).

Here are some raw figures. They should be considered approximate only, and in any case are not always fair; percentages are depressed by peak-only services and some very similar routes (eg 600/922/923) should probably be counted as one.

Number of bus routes by operating days/hours - November 2008

Routes that run Mon-Fri only and cease before 7pm weekdays: 22
Routes that run Mon-Fri only and cease before 9pm weekdays: 10
Routes that run Mon-Fri only but cease after 9pm weekdays: 1

Routes that run Mon-Sat only and cease before 7pm weekdays: 46
Routes that run Mon-Sat only and cease before 9pm weekdays: 35

Routes that run Mon-Sun but cease before 7pm weekdays: 20
Routes that run Mon-Sun but cease before 9pm weekdays: 17
Routes that run Mon-Sun and cease at 9pm (MOTC STANDARD): 120
Routes that run Mon-Sun and run after 9pm (ABOVE MOTC): 16

Peak period only routes: 16
Limited service and special routes: 5
Sunday only routes: 1

Detailed figures for 2006 are contained in a previous post here.

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