Friday, September 17, 2021

Flashback Friday: 70 years since 1951's bus crisis

70 years ago newspapers reported on a crisis that was the start of three or four decades of bus patronage falls and service cuts. 

This was the era when rights to run bus routes were allocated by government but there was no state subsidy. Bus routes had to earn their keep from their fare box revenue. 

1951 was very different from the more protected Melbourne bus scene of 2021, where, provided you've obtained or inherited a long term contract you can't really go wrong even if no one rides your buses. Today duplicative and poorly used bus routes that do not even stack up on social equity grounds routinely attract public subsidy for years without serious review or reform.  

Bus companies (which were numerous and small in those days) charged and collected their own fares. They could apply for fare increases but they were not always granted by the government that regulated fares. And if they were there was the risk that they could lose patronage to a cheaper operator running a nearby route. And, especially in older suburbs, routes were often both short and close together. 

The problems of 1951 were caused by two matters outside the bus industry's control.

Firstly there was the end of wartime petrol rationing in 1950. When that ended people could drive their cars further without restriction. Which they did. This contributed to the fall in public transport use off from its peak in about 1945. Public transport usage narrowed to become more housewives, schoolchildren and peak CBD commuters, although buses had some reprieve due to growth of suburbs beyond the tram tracks and away from stations. The non-conversion or closure of some trams also put more people onto buses, though the replacement routes were government rather than privately run. 

Secondly there was the Korean war, wool boom and the resultant high inflation (history of which is here). This increased costs for bus operators since wages were regulated and unionisation was high. With static or falling patronage they had to hike fares to break even, which risked further losses. Or, to stem losses, abandon their routes. Survivors generally did so by buying out weaker operators and running longer combined routes. This lessened the need to change (which was good) but frequencies and operating hours were often reduced (which was bad for passengers but reduced operating costs). 

That's the 'big picture' background. Here are some Trove articles, ordered by date, that discuss route by route details.

* 13 July 1951 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/244238441 & https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205340109 & https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/244237896

Loss of East Malvern bus service and calls for extension.

* 27 July 1951 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205340381
Self-help scheme to revive bus. (Note there have been other community-led schemes, most recently 
Wynbus in the City of Wyndham).

* 12 June 1954 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205386496
Chamber of Commerce to run Hughesdale bus.

* 10 September 1951 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205336844
Bus companies threaten to abandon routes (some listed) if government does not grant fare rises

* 17 September 1951 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/244240774
Elsternwick - Point Ormond bus route to close.

* 23 October 1951 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205328065
Account of a route being abandoned despite operator being granted a fare rise (the route concerned is a predecessor to today's 623).

* 23 October 1951 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205328097
Up to 13 routes to cease. 

* 24 October 1951 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/247847349
Higher fares blamed for lower bus use and a shift to cycling. 
Major bus routes in Northcote, Heidelberg & Watsonia would cease on 31 December

MP advocates for Heidelberg buses.

Entire bus network to be reorganised. Need to shift buses from stagnant established areas to growing outer areas.

Reprieve for some buses including Kew - Mont Albert and Heidelberg area. 

* 6 February 1952 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/246044577
Mont Albert - Kew converted to school bus only (today the area has few regular routes but many school routes especially around Barkers Rd)

* 1 March 1952 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/246052811
Heidelberg - Ivanhoe route to stop (except for school children)

Western suburbs Tramways Board buses

Criticism of Deer Park bus service due to its hourly frequency and lack of Sunday morning service. Train considered inadequate due to distance of station from settled area. 

Tramways board start Sunday morning Deer Park service. Mention that weekday service will be every 30 minutes after a driver shortage is resolved. 

Frequent Tramways board buses to west. Peak as frequent as 3.5 minutes. 

Tramways Board start running Deer Park - City buses. Article says that buses will provide competition with rail service which was found wanting. A very high frequency was provided, including service every 5 min peaks, 7.5 min off-peak and 10 min night. This became the 216 bus until Brimbank area reforms. 

Summary of buses in 1955

Things seemed to have settled down for a while after these cuts. Although many more were to happen with a general redistribution of service from established to newer suburbs. However newer suburbs never got the operating hours and frequencies that older areas lost.  

This 1955 Government Gazette summaries buses as they were in 1955. 
https://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/images/1955/V/general/1.pdf

Earlier and later crises and successes

Zooming out a bit, 1951 wasn't the only year buses had problems maintaining existing service levels. The early 1930s saw reduced commuter usage as people lost their jobs during the Great Depression.  Others might have switched to walking or cycling to save having to pay a fare (our cities being more compact then with more small-scale industry nearer peoples homes).

A decade later we were in war. It's well-known that fuel rationing limited private travel. However public transport use was high and people were only encouraged to use it for necessary trips. Bus companies were required to trim their routes to lessen overlap, cut competition with the railways and reduce wasteful duplication.  

We've already covered the early 1950s. After these problems some bus companies did well as suburbanisation exploded and most new estates were beyond walking distance of trains. However rising car ownership led to buses role being reduced to specific markets including housewives, older people and those commuting to stations. Schoolchildren predominantly walked or cycled but they too became significant bus users later. 

Bus companies responded by reducing routes, merging routes (and with each other) and cutting service frequencies and operating hours, particularly at night and on weekends. This was only a short-term relief, with patronage falling so far that they could no longer make their services pay. This combined with wage rises led to a recurrence of 1951-type problems with governments this time stepping in to subsidise buses from the early 1970s. With subsidy came a degree of stability but also increased state control. This meant that bus companies, while still privately owned, ceased being genuinely 'free enterprise' businesses with  limited ability to change their product or pricing.

Dependence on state funding tied buses' fate to public finances. There were long periods in the 1970s and 1990s where buses simply did not expand to serve suburban growth areas. We remain with these 30 or 40 year service backlogs in areas like Knox, Chirnside Park and the Mornington Peninsula. There were also large state-imposed cuts, eg in 1990 and almost exactly 30 years ago in 1991 following a bus contracting bungle a couple of years prior. Again in 2021 timetables remain with the axe-marks of those early '90s cuts as visible now as the day they were made.  

The last 15 years saw a major revival in government interest in buses, with significant service upgrades under Meeting Our Transport Challenges launched by minister Batchelor. This was followed by accelerated network reform under minister Mulder, a stagnation under minister Allan (as infrastructure became all-important) followed by recent signs of a revival with minister Carroll's Victoria's Bus Plan. More post-1950s history in the Seven ages of Melbourne's Buses

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Timetable Tuesday #134: 10 bus route upgrades that would make our train network more robust

The announcement came out on Sunday that all V/Line train services that day would be cancelled. This is due to COVID-related driver shortages. Instead substitute buses would operate at roughly hourly intervals. This not only affects regional locations but also heavily urbanised parts of outer Melbourne including Wyndham Vale, Tarneit, Melton, Caroline Springs and Deer Park who rely on V/Line for their nearest trains. 

Hourly buses arriving at undetermined times are better than nothing but still make travel inconvenient. Provided they know about it people may prefer to catch a regular bus (operating at a known time) over waiting for a substitute bus whose arrival time is not known (and possibly being unable to fit on the first that arrives). 

However only rarely do regular route buses operate at the same wide operating hours as trains. This includes all buses in areas like Tarneit, which has lower than average car ownership and a higher than average portion of essential workers and those whose jobs does not enable working from home. Limited operating hours lessens the usefulness of buses to function as a true substitute service.


The V/Line disruptions didn't just happen Sunday. There were some yesterday and they continue today, as I write this. It is not known long how long they will continue for. 

COVID isn't the only thing that can disrupt trains. Planned occupations is another. Our network still has too many points and track faults, signal failures, overhead power losses and level crossing incidents that disrupt services. And when it gets hot trains may have 'go slow' orders that lessen their reliability. Climate change will raise average temperatures and cause more extreme weather events that could disrupt train services more. So we really do need to think about how to both ruggedise our train lines so they can run reliably during more extreme conditions network and provide alternative when they don't.

A casual look at PTV network maps indicate that there are a lot of regular bus options to move between train lines at many stations. The diagram below shows how that might work if a portion of the Frankston line couldn't run. One could take a bus to another line and get the bus across. If you're in between two lines the extra time taken might only be 15 minutes more - often better than waiting for a substitute service. At their current frequencies regular routes might not handle peak loadings well but would provide some handy mitigation especially if there are multiple options that disperse people onto multiple routes, such as between the Sandringham line and parts of the Frankston line (below). 


A key issue though is frequency and operating hours. Buses must match train operating hours if they are to be a reliable substitute. Frequencies on all the orange lines shown can drop to 40 - 60 minutes at times. And 95% of Melbourne's bus routes do not run 'full time', which I'll define as operating hours similar to trains. Most routes cease at 9pm with no service before about 8 or 9 am on weekends. The map below shows Melbourne's entire 'full-time' bus network as it currently stands (though some improvements are coming next week in the Doncaster area). 


Also, where they do run frequencies are low, with 30 to 60 minute frequencies most usual. This can affect connectivity especially for trips that involve multiple changes (which is often the case if the rail line you'd normally take is knocked out). 

Bias against reliability & redundancy (until it gets really bad)

If you're deciding how to spend money on transport projects, reliability and resilience projects often miss out. This is because a piece of infrastructure that people use every day (like a new road or rail line) is both politically more visible and stacks up better than a reliability-enhancing project (eg extra sets of points that allow operation around a damaged section) that might only be useful on the 1% of days when the system fails. However when there's lots of failures then they make the front page and political pressure for fixes intensifies, with lax governments sometimes bundled out of office. 

Generally though the current fashion is to not design in redundancy and call in the buses when running the railway gets too hard. This is as opposed to the 'show must go on' rail heroism a century ago when rail played a more central part in community life and road substitutes were less developed. 

In a similar vein, you might not add full-time bus services if their only role was to provide back-up when trains failed and they would be poorly used at other times. 

Fortunately there is no need to. It so happens that the same bus routes that allow access to the nearest operating train line are also those which are useful and popular for feeder services and to serve destinations only accessible by bus. And usage may be above-average for buses. So these routes, as well as joining train lines during disruptions also more than justify themselves at other times. Hence they should be top priority for improvements with gains for network redundancy as well. 

Network resilience enhancing bus routes

Where are these routes? Here's my list. I'll give top priority to direct routes in areas with high existing usage in areas with high proportions of essential workers who might be using them during these times. It would also be desirable if the routes are locations where trains are regularly terminated as that would make changing to them easier. Because these improvements are all operating hours and off-peak frequencies they merely work the existing fleet harder and would require no new bus purchases. However some could justify subsequent upgrades that would require extra buses, such as 10 minute frequencies. I'll go through them roughly west to east. 

180: A popular and direct route between Tarneit and Werribee. It will gain 24 hour weekend service in the upcoming Night Network change. However it still has late am starts (particularly weekends) and before 10pm finishes on most evenings. Longer operating hours would provide Tarneit Station with a connection to the Werribee line if V/Line trains are knocked out while also supporting the Werribee line if Metro trains are suspended.

150: Similar comments apply to 180 above, though the route runs between Tarneit and Williams Landing. It serves a large and densely populated catchment near no full time services and relatively low car ownership. Hence the extra trips will be useful as feeders when trains on both lines are running. 

170: Like the 180 it runs from Tarneit to Werribee but via a different alignment that includes Werribee Plaza Shopping Centre. It needs trips added after 9pm and earlier in the mornings, especially weekends. 

All three of these routes have above average patronage. More on improving them here

420: Sunshine - Watergardens. A popular route that provides connectivity between three major stations (some on different lines) at Sunshine, Deer Park (though with poor interchange facilities) and Watergardens. Even if City - Sunshine trains were not running there are many (though slow) bus options for that portion of travel from either Footscray or the CBD. 

901: Roxburgh Park - Epping. A segment of a SmartBus orbital. The main things holding it back for reliable train connectivity are the operating hours (notably the 9pm finish on Sunday evenings) and the weekend frequency (only every 30 minutes). If you were to upgrade service on this route you would likely run the upgrade over a longer segment, eg Melbourne Airport or Broadmeadows to South Morang, even though only the central Roxburgh Park - Epping portion is strictly required for cross-line connectivity.  

902: Broadmeadows - Greensborough. Another SmartBus with similar service limitations to the 901.  A limitation is the long distance between stations, exacerbated by the lack of a station at Campbellfield which could have enabled a connection to the Upfield line. 

903: Coburg - Heidelberg. The last of the orbitals. I've not included Sunshine or Essendon in this segment as directness isn't great (though one could). It connects some major stations including Preston and destinations including Northland Shopping Centre. I have described an economical upgrade that delivers a 10 minute frequency in this item on a Route 904. Like the other 900-series it suffers from an early Sunday finish and limited weekend frequencies. 

Other contenders in this area (but further south) include routes like the 513 and 510. However these have weaker termini and trip generators. And in 513's case there's significant complexity and indirectness that make it not worth a large service upgrade without these being addressed. 

624: Caulfield - East Kew. A potentially strong north-south route that connects a lot of train and tram lines at right angles. Unfortunately it is a very complex route that performs well below potential due to its half-hourly weekday/hourly weekend service. Operating hours are also limited. 

903: Box Hill - Oakleigh. Another section of the 903 that was discussed just above. Arguably the upgraded section should extend to Doncaster or Heidelberg to complete the circle (if keeping as an orbital). Connects similar lines to the 624 and 733 but (often) at different stations. Also extends south to the Frankston line but geometry is less favourable as it approaches at an acute angle rather than 90 degrees.  

733: Box Hill - Clayton. This is the busiest section of a very popular route. It connects the Belgrave/Lilydale, Glen Waverley and Pakenham/Cranbourne lines. Existing usage is very high relative to its low service levels. It has similar hours and frequency issues to the 624 mentioned above.  The full route runs to Oakleigh but the Clayton - Oakleigh portion largely parallels other services and is less deserving of an upgrade.  

824: Clayton - Moorabbin.  Part of an existing popular route. A benefit of Moorabbin is it's a place that trains are often terminate in the event of disruptions (planned or otherwise). A future network reform might extend it west to the Brighton area providing better connectivity than the currently infrequent 811/812. Operating frequencies and hours are the normal offering from buses, eg a 9-10 pm finish, late weekend starts and limited weekend frequency. 

902: Nunawading - Springvale - Chelsea. Serves busy stations at Nunawading, Glen Waverley and Springvale. It's further out than the 903 so the distances are greater between lines. However it doesn't have the time-using deviation into Chadstone of that route. The geometry is less favourable towards the Frankston line but it is still the most viable substitute when that line is out.  Has SmartBus operating patterns including limited weekend frequency and an early finish on Sunday. 

901: Ringwood - Dandenong - Frankston. Similar comments to the 902 but more so due to the lines fanning out. However it does serve three major centres and rail junctions. 

Service upgrades for above to bring to close to rail standards could include: 

* Improved weekday frequency (to 20 min): 150, 624, 733
* Improved weekend frequency (to 20 min 7 day): 150, 624, 733, 824, 901, 902, 903
* Earlier morning starts: All non-SmartBus routes
* Evening frequency upgrades: All routes listed 
* 9pm - midnight Sunday span: All routes listed

The above and other routes would benefit from the Double Service Frequency on Everything plan. 

More?

There are more routes than those listed above that could also aid network resilience. And there are some cases where alternative connections, not provided by the current network may be merited.

For instance a direct Southland - Sandringham connection along Bay Rd is more direct than the current 822 bus via Cheltenham and better lends itself to becoming a high frequency / all day service. 

One might argue the case for a Caulfield - Camberwell Burke Rd connection, with both being major rail junctions and the route serving both Metro Tunnel and Airport Rail. It's the sort of corridor that probably needs a medium capacity option like light rail or busway on its own way. Then it could make a large contribution if disruptions happen during peak times as well as being a popular connector at other times. 

The SRL SmartBus concept, especially if associated with limited stops and faster speeds could also strengthen the network at all times and raise the profile of the SRL as something that's really coming.

The point with all these is that a resilient network in many areas provided by circumferential buses is not just an extra cost but something that has many wider network benefits useful in non-disrupted times as well.

Maybe I've missed some? Ideas for others are welcome and can be left below. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Building Melbourne's Useful Network Part 105: Done in the wrong order? FlexiRide coming to Lilydale

Many think of flexible route buses as new up-and-comers that could transform transit. They're not. They go back to at least the 1970s as 'dial a ride' services tried in many places. Most failed, with low ridership and high costs per passenger.

Despite their chequered record, 'demand responsive' buses are a recurring recommendation in various transport plans over the years, old and new. These include 1988's MetPlan and 2021's Victoria's Bus Plan. More on why flexible route buses often fail here

 Telebus in Lilydale

One of the 'dial a rides' that did survive is 'Telebus'. It's operated near Croydon - Lilydale in Melbourne's outer east since the late 1970s. Telebus was established to service sprawl and demographics that could not be more hostile to bus usage as subdivisions turned their back on highway and station access.  

High car ownership, high incomes, low density and, most critically, street layouts did not enable direct and efficient bus routes. That is even if governments were willing to fund them, which they weren't in much of the 1970s and 1990s. For Chirnside Park this was initially due to a golf course being in the middle of the estate. When this later got filled in with houses the neighbourhood remained bus-hostile with narrow, winding and disconnected internal streets. Telebus was thus an 'after the horse has bolted' attempt to minimally serve a bad layout that good planning should have prevented.     


Like a fixed bus route, Telebus has a defined origin and destination and some fixed intermediate stops that are always served. However the intermediate stops are fewer than for a regular bus route. With Telebus you could either wait at a fixed stop or phone the dispatcher before the bus leave the origin and order the bus to call nearer your home. A non-myki add-on fare is charged for that service. This early '90s Invicta bus timetable book explains it as follows: 


Telebuses are a daytime-only shopper, school and commuter-style service. There is sometimes Saturday service but never Sunday or public holiday service. While many local bus routes got 'minimum standards' upgrades including Sunday service about 10 - 15 years ago, Telebus timetables were left untouched. 

The 1992 Met network map below shows four shaded areas. Each has its own Telebus route. Chirnside Park is Area One. There remain four areas up to 2021 though boundaries are slightly different (for now you can see them on the PTV Yarra Ranges map).


The subsequent addition or extension of some fixed routes like 664, 670, 675, 676, 677 and 680 near or through some Telebus areas is notable. These would have sapped some Telebus patronage (see Knox Maroondah Yarra Ranges Bus Service Review, p45). Also Telebus' boardings per hour was higher in 1978  than it was forty years later, partly due to there then being fewer 'competing' routes with overlapping catchments. Nevertheless Telebus shares some characteristics of fixed route buses (eg some fixed stops) which probably made it a better performer than purely flexible route buses. 

Telebus has always been Invicta Bus Company's 'baby'. It has continued under subsequent owners, including Grenda and Ventura. A similar concept was introduced across the Yarra in Gowanbrae as Route 490 from Airport West.

Unusual for buses in Melbourne, Telebuses don't have conventional route numbers, making information on them hard to find on the PTV website. The same can be said for 'how to use' details, which requires effort to find the special page here. PTV's app has even less information with recourse to the full website item necessary to find the number for booking. 



As mentioned before, Telebus started around Lilydale in the 1970s. Rowville gained it maybe a decade or so later with services to Stud Park and Ferntree Gully. At the time both Ventura and Invicta (then different companies) had buses that ran to Rowville but neither ran what you'd call a full service. This remains an issue today with effectively two incomplete networks operating - one fixed route and one flexible route - with 'minimum standards' service on neither.  

Last year Rowville's Telebuses were replaced with FlexiRide, This removed Telebus' fixed times and stop. It also stripped both the PTV website and app of timetable information, with everything being shunted off to a separate app (although phone bookings were still taken). The area's fixed route network was not reformed and remains indirect and infrequent. My write-up on Rowville FlexiRide is here


John Usher of Invicta Bus Company presented Australasian Transport Research Forum papers about planning and operating Telebus in 1978 and 1994. I recommend reading these for detailed background on the Lilydale and Rowville Telebuses. 

FlexiRide in Lilydale

Following on from Rowville, now it's Lilydale's turn. From October 4, 2021 all their Telebus services (1, 2, 3, 4) will be replaced with FlexiRide. Buses will operate in three zones. Each zone will have two anchor destinations, typically a railway station and/or major shopping centre. An annotated version of the existing PTV area map (Telebus areas in orange) with guessed FlexiRide travel zone boundaries is below.  The FlexiRide app will likely have a fuller map, with the difference being the separate zones as opposed to just one as with Rowville. 


FlexiRide operating hours are 6am to 8pm weekdays and 8am to 6pm Saturdays. There will be no Sunday or public holiday service. The absence of the latter puts it out of kilter with the standard (but only partly implemented) pattern for Melbourne buses where routes with Saturday do run on most public holidays. Bookings can either be made via the FlexiRide app or telephone. The telephone number is the same as that used for the Rowville FlexiRide (8710 6377). 

Boarding points can include physical or 'virtual' bus stops (which are unmarked so may be harder to find). The PTV site says that FlexiRide is a 12 month trial, though I can't see the name going back to the original Telebus after then. Overall these changes move the service further away from a fixed route (albeit one with a variable path between some fixed intermediate stops) to a fully variable path. This is generally in the direction of less rather than more passengers per bus operating hour productivity. 

What about the door to door service for which Telebus imposed a fare surcharge? The surcharge has gone. There is still the closer service available but only for those with accessibility requirements. The ending of the surcharge removes the last vestige of 'pay the driver' cash bus fares in Melbourne, although prepaid ticket books were available.

Other network changes

As well as Lilydale Telebus becoming FlexiRider, two other changes are happening to local buses on October 4.   

Regular bus route 676 will disappear. This will be covered by one of the FlexiRides. There are fixed route buses on surrounding main roads but part of the area is hilly. 

Also Route 672 between Croydon and Chirnside Park will be simplified to become a fixed route bus at all times. Currently a section north of Croydon has off-peak Telebus running with it able to deviate in the Croydon Hills area. Now it will remain on Yarra Rd, simplifying the service and providing more predictable travel times. Some passengers will need to walk further but the general experience with Telebuses is that the fixed stops see the most usage. This makes the 672 a regular bus route rather than being 'neither fish nor fowl'.  

Both these changes are relatively minor. They don't much overhaul the network, despite local buses being amongst the least used in Melbourne. Not even the redundant and duplicative 673 is removed. And main roads that don't have buses don't get them. 

Is this the best we can do?  

The short answer is no. 

Just replacing Telebus with FlexiRide is replacing one low productivity bus service model with one even lower. All while neglecting the fixed route network with greater potential. The tendency to take the path of least resistance of rebranding an existing similar service, adding an app and calling it bus reform is a habit the Department of Transport needs to quit.  

This is because flexible route buses have low passenger boardings per hour. Most commonly this is around 5 to 10 boardings per hour (or less for operating models less successful than Telebus which is probably 'best of type'). Even quiet fixed routes in sparse suburban areas do about double that. And it's double again in areas with straighter streets, higher density and better demographics. 

Rowville does not have great demographics for buses. It also has a pitiful mix of a poor quality unreviewed fixed route network and a limited hours FlexiRide service grafted over it. Similar applies in the Mooroolbark and Chirnside Park areas where routes like 664, 675, and 677 operate near or through the Telebus area. The presence of both types of services may mean that neither thrive for the thin patronage market offering. 

A concept network

The order we plan various parts of the network is critical. Service planning is basically about providing the best service to the most number of people at an affordable cost. 'Best' typically means things like operating hours, frequency, directness and speed. This usually means running frequent service along main roads that are reasonably walkable to most. 

Such a network may have coverage gaps which routes on in between streets can cover. Planners may have to trade-off frequency and coverage depending on local needs and demands. They may have to insert local 'in between' routes, especially if neighbourhood walkability is poor. Both frequent and local bus services are fixed routes, with flexible routes a last resort due to their high costs per passenger carried and sharply reduced reliability if more than a few people start using the service. 

Their inability to efficiently serve passengers means that before you start fiddling with flexible routes a higher priority should be to reform fixed routes, as per the framework below. If flexible routes have a role it is a minor residual one serving certain special needs that justify the high cost per passenger. 

Just like in Rowville, the recipe in Lilydale is 'FlexiRide first'. 

It is being introduced while the local fixed route bus network is hardly changing.

Buses would become more useful and more reliable if the order of reform was reversed. 

Two concepts where regular routes were deviated or extended to throw coverage into areas currently served by Telebus (and would be served by FlexiRide) are mapped below: 

NETWORK 1


NETWORK 2

The pockets where any flexible route may be considered would get smaller if not vanish. This will result in a smaller and preferably zero proportion of buses being used for inherently indirect and inefficient operations. This should make it possible to deliver the most effective and economical bus networks to an area where service has long been substandard.  

Other network concepts worth exploring appear in 2010's bus service review for Knox Maroondah & Yarra Ranges. Only a few recommendations from that were implemented. 

Conclusion

On one level it is good that buses in the Lilydale area are getting attention. On another it's not the attention that would necessarily deliver the most efficient and economical service. 

This is because changes are being made in the wrong order, with flexible route services being adjusted without there being a review of fixed routes first.  Because the latter generally have higher boardings per bus hour (or potential for same) reforming fixed routes should be done first. 

Two concepts for fixed route networks that would lessen or remove the need for flexible routes have been outlined. Comments are appreciated and can be left below. 

See other Building Melbourne's Useful Network items here