Our Top 50 Bus Routes - Part 2
Part 1 compared bus service levels by number of services per day. Such statistics are essential for scheduling and rostering purposes but have little meaning for the passenger. They are, in bureaucratic jargon, an 'output'.
Maximum waiting times, or service frequency, is far more useful for passengers. These are shown for each day of the week underneath the graphs in tables below:
Both the graphs and frequency tables allow some interesting comparisons.
The university-oriented feeder routes (401, 630 and 703) tended to have low ratios of weekend running. This is caused by the frequent weekday service and no or local-style weekend schedules. Fairly low weekend ratios are also found on outer eastern routes like 789/790/791 and the 888/889 SmartBus. Weekend services are particularly limited in the Manningham area, where service is concentrated on weekday commuters.
Trams are generally more frequent than trains, with the greatest differences during off-peak, evenings and weekends. This explains why the Knox Transit Link 732 (which connects to Tram 75) has a higher weekend service ratio than 571 and 896, which both feed trains.
Routes where weekend service levels are most similar to weekdays include 781/4/5 (where the basic combined frequency is 20 minutes 7 days a week) and 223, where only the Sunday timetable is significantly less.
Weekend services are important for some people but not for others. Good 7-day service makes the choice to live without a car more practical for more people, increasing loyalty and patronage. As an example, a change from 12 to 9 services per hour during a peak period would probably not dramatically change patronage (unless capacity limited) but the same change (from 4 to 1 trips per hour) on a weekend will likely influence a decision to drive. In other words, if you did not wish to buy a car, one would prefer a continually frequent route like Route 223 to one that offered a more 'peaky' service (even if more buses ran per week).
Another interesting pattern is the difference between Saturday and Sunday service frequency. Again this varies from small to great. Small differences are common with previously low-service routes where timetables were upgraded to a flat hourly frequency for each route for both days. Examples include the constituent routes of 781/784/785 and 832/833.
Large Sunday to Saturday ratios have two causes – either very low Sunday service levels or unusually high Saturday service levels that depress the Sunday ratio. An example of the former is 201/202/302, which has a sparse Sunday service compared to similarly ranked routes (refer 11-20 graph).
The author has observed that Sunday trading in the older northern and western suburban shopping strips is less prevalent than in the inner southern, eastern and bayside suburbs. Coversely the 'Saturday morning rush' tradition has probably also prevailed longer in the non-Sunday areas (in contrast Saturday afternoons are busier at 'destination' shopping malls).
Either it is demand driven by such patronage or a historical accident, but it remains true that Saturday daytime bus frequencies in the type of northern and western suburbs mentioned above approach weekday services and even trump SmartBus service levels. In all these areas Sunday buses were almost unknown until 2 or 3 years ago, when most routes got an approximately hourly service.
Examples of local routes that have a comparatively intensive Saturday service include 216/219, 220, 223, 406, 465, 467, 552 and 781/784/785. And to possibly confirm the above, all but one are in the northern or western suburbs.
Part 3 will present the frequency tables above in a different order and conclude with the benefits that combined frequency information can provide to both passengers and planners.