Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Timetable Tuesday #102: The City Loop - Melbourne's train vortex?


40 years ago today revenue services began on the Melbourne Underground Railway Loop, or, to give it its snappier common name, the City Loop. Prior to that travel to the northern and eastern end of the CBD required a train to Flinders St or Spencer St and a tram across. Daniel Bowen has a more detailed write-up here

The City Loop improved the rail system's coverage in the abovementioned parts of the CBD and stimulated development, particularly in the area around Melbourne Central. Some credit it as the start of a revival in patronage after suburban train usage bottomed out in 1981 (at numbers far less than the bullish forecasts in the 1969 plan). However it was not an unalloyed good, introducing changes and confusion where they previously didn't exist. 

Although Parliament, Museum (Melbourne Central) and Flagstaff looked like Metro or subway stations, the trains that went into them were the normal Australian cross between regional and urban rail. Services ran all day but not that frequently. Passengers used timetables rather than turned up and went and there were numerous types of express stopping pattern on the longer lines (as there remains today, notably for Ringwood). 

The City Loop made cross-city trips harder. Changing from one line to another became a horrid chore, not least due to inconsistency that was almost impossible to plan and remember. Due to the convoluted operations of the City Loop trains could use different platforms on different days of the week, go different directions on different times of the same day and require changing at different locations. Then, for decades, there were stations that were only open on some days of the week. Because of this inconsistency permanent signs could not be installed. Instead passengers were at the mercy of electronic displays that could go blank or show wrong information with seconds to go before the train arrives. 

And instead of having a single pulse frequency, like all other Australian suburban rail networks had (typically every 15 minutes in Sydney and Perth, 30 min Brisbane and Adelaide), Melbourne's off-peak trains were a mix of every 15, 20, 30 and 40 minutes. That added to the unpredictability of interchange, even if everything was running to time.   

The sort of inconsistencies that plague back street bus routes that have been unreviewed for decades came to infect, at a hundred times the scale, on our suburban rail network. 

Big cities don't impose this sort of thing on their rail passengers. However Melbourne is a curious mix of big city infrastructure and small city operating practice with regards to things like operating consistency and frequency.  As well as the types of trips, with peak period CBD travel most favoured in timetables.

Hence, although one can admire the engineering audacity of the project, commenced at a time that suburban rail was in decline, it is also possible to see the Loop as a hindrance as much as a help for some trips. Which is a poor return for the network given its mammoth cost. 

People think building the City Loop took ages. It started in the early '70s and finishing in the mid-80s (when the last station opened).  

But that's nothing. Service reform to its operations can take several times longer, especially where, as in Melbourne, decades may pass where the will to pursue it varies between zero and weak. It remains a work in progress, with a substantial step forward occurring this Sunday, January 31 as operations of one of its four portals being made consistent all day and all week. It is hoped that future reforms will be faster than one per decade, with the Burnley group potentially a high priority due to its currently complex operations and coverage of marginal seats

Measuring the midday gap

It wouldn't be Tuesday without at least some look at timetables. Especially timetable oddities. Which the City Loop causes due to its midday reversal on three of its four portals. This is probably the most egregious example of the City Loop's confusing operating pattern. While it might have resulted in some marginal travel time savings for commuters making certain types of trip (such as Melbourne's eastern and south-eastern suburbs to Parliament) it made many others longer. Explaining the vagarities of the  sometimes reversing loop was always in the too hard basket for PTV, Metlink, its predecessors and train operators so they never bothered despite rampant public confusion. 

Hence this attempt by PTUA to explain the City Loop . And the long-running 'Zen and the City Loop' page that I reviewed here


Another risk is 'kidnapping' where a loop train might show one destination that passengers assume it will go to. This can happen on trains that passengers board in the City Loop. What can happen is that once the train gets to Flinders Street it is sent off somewhere else, unbeknownst to the passenger. Such transposals have operational advantages in assisting recovery from delays. However they don't aid network legibility, simplicity and confidence. Consistent patterns, through running and sectored operation should reduce the network's interdependencies and number of transposals.

The good news is that progress on this front is being made, though in time-lines measured in decades. One can look at old timetables like on Krustylink to see examples of lines where trains alternate between loop and direct. That inconsistency made services somewhat less than turn-up-and-go, even in peak times. There were some small consistency improvements in the '90s and 2000s, though these were generally lean times for trains. 

Then about ten years ago the Clifton Hill group became the first loop portal to scrap the midday reversal. Now trains go clockwise around the loop seven days. 

The same will happen for the Caulfield group this Sunday, with Cranbourne and Pakenham trains operating anticlockwise and Frankston trains consistently out of the loop and running to Newport and beyond via Southern Cross. For now though it's got the midday reversal on weekdays. 

Here is a tabulation of when the last train is at various loop stations in the morning direction and the first train in the afternoon direction on non public holiday weekdays. All times are pm. 


Caulfield Group (no reversal from 31/1/2021)

Parliament 12:45 - 1:09

Melbourne Central 12:47 - 1:07

Flagstaff 12:49 - 1:05


Burnley Group

Parliament 12:42 - 1:05

Melbourne Central 12:44 - 1:03

Flagstaff 12:45 - 1:02


Northern Group

Flagstaff 12:48 - 1:03

Melbourne Central 12:50 - 1:01

Parliament 12:52 - 12:59


To summarise, Parliament sees no trains on any line between 12:52 and 12:59, Melbourne Central 12:50 and 1:01 and Flagstaff 12:49 and 1:02. The longest gap per group at any station is 24 minutes at Parliament for the Caulfield group (though this will soon vanish). That is closely followed by the Burnley group at Parliament with 23 minutes. These intervals are longer than the normal frequency on these lines (10 or 15 minutes). Hence if you find yourself at a Loop station in the middle of the day your waiting time can exceed the train frequency if you arrive at the wrong time. 

This is not how big city transport is supposed to work. Neither does it optimise usage of expensive infrastructure whose most efficient usage is likely to be in the form of a consistent, connective and versatile network useful for diverse trips beyond the suburb - office peak hour transit that some excessively focus on.  

At 40 the City Loop has done much good but has not fully lived up to its potential as a consistent simplifier of rather than a some-time hindrance to metropolitan train travel. Simplification of the Burnley and then northern group to remove the midday reversals are essential. 

After that it could be worth considering more radical capacity-enhancing surgery such as opening parts to facilitate direct Richmond - Parliament - Melbourne Central - Flagstaff - North Melbourne trains. After all most people want to get from A to B, and not around a loop whose geometry suits sightseers more than the majority for whom transport is merely a means to something else. 


See all Timetable Tuesday items here


PS: Curious about public holiday timetables such as applying today? Read the public holiday gamble on Melbourne's buses

Friday, January 22, 2021

Building Melbourne's Useful Network Part 78: Saving 2 million annual passenger minutes - The Frankston line stations we could possibly do without

The Labor government is getting more brazen with its level crossing removals. Although the policy to remove crossings has bipartisan support, the method did not, with noisy but largely baseless opposition to elevated rail. This is despite advantages at some sites including lower construction costs, shorter disruptions, better ground-level permeability and retention of vegetation. 



Political considerations were a major element of projects designed and built during Labor's first term (2014 - 2018) when it had a slim majority. However the 2018 landslide gave it increased confidence. Hence last month's announcement that as part of grade separations on the Ringwood line, Surrey Hills and Mont Albert (which are 800 metres apart) would be replaced by a single station in the middle.

This would be in the seat of Box Hill, one of Labor's more marginal seats. Although to be fair that was an unexpected win. Labor could lose it and similar surrounding seats without losing office. Especially given the coming electoral redistribution which will transfer seats from the low-growth east to the high growth west, north and south-east where Labor is (mostly) stronger.  

What if boldness prevailed on the Frankston line?

This post is a hypothetical. What if such boldness (some might say brazenness or even arrogance) was in force when Frankston line grade separations were being designed? We might have got an elevated rail solution for Edithvale/Chelsea/Bonbeach. Then all three stations would have provided a similar view that Carrum has newly become famous for. Instead of a bay glimpse at just one station it would be over a longer section of track. And there would be better road and walking permeability with less of a need to close or merge some crossing points. That's locally important as most residents must cross the rail corridor to reach local shops and the beach. 

Even more radical (at least for train users) is the location of stations or even their existence. Changes to the latter was not on the agenda for Frankston line grade separations. However maybe it should have been, especially if we are as interested in building a first-class rail network as improving road traffic flow. 

The Frankston line trend: more frequent but slower

Frankston line service trends over the last 25 years can be expressed in frequency and running time. One trend has been positive while the other has been negative. 

On frequency it's been unambiguously a good news story. Daytime trains are now twice as frequent as they were in the early '90s, with a weekday increase from 20 to 15 to 10 minutes. Weekends went from 20 to 10 minutes for most of the day, with an even bigger increase on Sundays. And evening service, still lagging on most lines, will increase from every 30 to every 20 minutes on the Frankston line at the end of this month.   

While there's less waiting, travel times are a story of continually decreasing speed. Frankston passengers once enjoyed off-peak express running through Hawksburn, Toorak and Armadale. That privilege got swapped with the Dandenong line for admittedly sound reasons (including it being busier). A late morning off-peak trip from Flinders St to Frankston took 58 minutes in 1997 before that change. 

The new Southland Station also added some time, though the timetable was altered well before the station was built. Subsequent timetables have added a minute or so each time in running time. Padding timetables can be seen as catering for increased patronage, improving reliability, making punctuality targets easier to achieve or reducing operator lateness penalties. Today a weekday morning trip from Flinders Street to Frankston takes 66 minutes. However this will increase to 67 minutes with the January 31 timetable. This is for a distance of 43km from the CBD.

Competition with roads

The speed limit for traffic in local streets in Melbourne is 50 km/h. Local shopping strips, with high pedestrian activity, often have a 40 km/h limit. Yet our suburban trains, on their own right of way, have average speeds measured in the thirties, even off-peak where fewer boarding delays can be expected. The Frankston train line is no exception, with an average 38 km/h speed. Peak express trains exist but speeds are only slightly higher, with a typical 59 minute travel time. That's slower than the off-peak service in 1997.  And to compensate for loading delays the all stations trip has been inflated to 111 minutes during peak times. 

Road, rail's competition, enjoys 100km/h speed limits on vaguely parallel freeways like Eastlink, Peninsula Link, and the under construction Mordialloc Bypass. None of these existed in 1997. These compete with rail for many trips, especially from areas with infrequent, slow or backtracking bus routes or to jobs with poor transit access such as at Carrum Downs or in the Monash precinct. 

To summarise, Frankston line rail travel is unattractively slow, and it's been getting slower over time. And Frankston line patronage has been falling, particularly on the outer portion. Some could be attributed to frequent shutdowns due to construction works but not all. 

The main train lines are public transport's version of freeways yet their speeds are more like local traffic. If a trip needs connections to slow or infrequent buses then travel time blows out further. This is particularly an issue for Frankston due to the extension of near continuous suburbanisation, mostly on two increasingly narrow corridors, a further 20 to 30 kilometres beyond where frequent rail stops. Public transport travel time to Melbourne from much of the Mornington Peninsula is rarely under two hours, even during off-peak times.  It can be faster to get public transport from Melbourne CBD to Ararat than to parts of the peninsula, despite the latter being about half the distance. 

Around Australia, similar comments may apply for the Gold Coast, whose train is also relatively slow. Mandurah is nearly twice the distance from Perth as Frankston is from Melbourne yet its trains are vastly faster due to wide station spacing. While Mandurah's local buses are infrequent (like Frankston's), the rail they feed offers a vastly faster trip than driving, something that the Frankston line does not necessarily do. The trade-off though is that with many more stops, including shopping centres like Southland, local connectivity for radial non-CBD trips is better than for the Mandurah line.  

Optimum station spacing for the Frankston line

Which brings us to what is ideal for the Frankston line. More stations equals more walk-up coverage but less speed. Fewer stations equals less walk-up coverage but more speed. The latter can still have wider coverage with a good feeder bus network but rarely are the buses as frequent as trains. Plus there's a transfer penalty that increases door-to-door travel time. You also need to bear in mind that walking is the main access mode to most Melbourne suburban stations and distance is a key factor of whether the service is considered useful. But when stations are too close they eat into each others walking catchments and don't add much new catchment. 

One approach is to keep all the stations but have express services. This reduces frequency at the stations skipped for a given number of trains. Skipping one or two stations doesn't greatly reduce travel time (although it somewhat reduces peak capacity on a two line system) while skipping three or more is not practical if a high frequency operates without signalling upgrades and, ultimately, extra line capacity. 

Where stations are very close so that large parts of their catchments are within a short walk of two stations on the same line, stations can eat into each other's catchments. With only a small unique catchment it's worth considering whether all stations should remain open since many passengers would almost as easily be able to walk to stations either side. When you reduce the number of stations you can speed the service without having to introduce confusing skip-stop express running (tried but abandoned in Perth) or reducing service frequency at some stations due to express running.

As I mentioned before, the Frankston line is an increasingly slow railway that is not necessarily attractive to those with the choice of using a parallel freeway. With good 7-day daytime frequency and reasonable (but still not great) evening frequency instituted from January 31, the next major priority for improvement should be travel time. 

Improved travel time involves various small and large changes. These are the sorts of things that a government focused on big infrastructure can overlook. And some, like reducing the number of stations, can provoke a political backlash, even though the vast majority of passengers might benefit. 

Removal options

Which stations on the Frankston line might one remove? 

Station usage could be helpful information. Numbers are available from this Philip Mallis blog post. Though note potential volatility in some years due to line closures and bus replacements. 

Bonbeach, Aspendale, Kananook and Edithvale are in the quieter group. Bonbeach is 1.3km south of busier Chelsea and 1.5km north of Carrum (before it was rebuilt and moved south). Aspendale is a similar distance north of Edithvale which in turn is 1.7km north of Chelsea. However Aspendale is distant (2.6km) from Mordialloc.

Proposed grade separations will move Chelsea south and Edithvale north, making spacings more uneven than previous, with Edithvale closer to Aspendale. Edithvale loses denser residential catchment than it gains to the north (part being a golf course) as well as access to the area's main bus (902). Hence both it and Aspendale may lose catchment from the grade separation, although Edithvale gains somewhat by users no longer having to wait for trains to reach the platform (Aspendale doesn't as it, like Chelsea, has an underpass). 

Kananook is further from stations either side. Seaford is 2km north and Frankston is 2.5km south. 

None of these distances are super close by Melbourne station separation standards. As comparison, Riversdale and Willison on the quiet Alamein line are just 600 metres apart.

Assuming station walking catchments are 800 metres, and they are seen as a rough circle around each station, stations need to be 1600 metres apart for them not to have any overlap where stations eat into each other's catchment. Of the distances quoted above, the closest two are Chelsea and Bonbeach, though this spacing is likely to widen as Bonbeach is moved significantly south and Chelsea moved slightly south. The movement of Edithvale north opens a gap between it and Chelsea (which is populated) while overlapping Aspendale near the unpopulated golf course.

We also need to think about those away from the rail line whose walking distances may be increased if a station is moved (or even removed). A factor here that's important is that stations align with the main east-west road. In the case of Edithvale, Chelsea and Bonbeach all three stations are being moved further from their main east-west road. This makes access to them less legible for those coming from 1.5 to 2 km away. The same has happened for Mentone, which I regard as a flawed project due to the new station's less convenient position south of the main activity area. 

To summarise, if we view the Frankston line as a walk-up medium speed railway (some might argue we shouldn't with something like the fast Mandurah line, being a pace-setting example) then the station spacing on this part of the line is not overly close. However that is not so further north, where spacing is more like a metro system in a dense European city. European cities are more compact and they don't have the metro doing double duty as a regional rail type service (as the Frankston line tries to, being the main feeder to areas as far as 70km from the CBD, via the infrequent 788 bus).

Patterson



Patterson is another of the quieter stations. It is 800 metres south of Bentleigh and 900 metres north of Moorabbin (for which big things were planned in the '50s but little happened). A few shops surround the station. It is served by no buses. For a long time it suffered as being the first station exclusively in Zone 2, with much of its catchment walking north to Bentleigh to take advantage of cheaper fares. 

Patterson opened in 1961, during a time when train patronage was falling. It would have brought trains closer to parts of newly developing Bentleigh East. However one could query whether it added more patronage than was lost by Frankston line trains being made slower. Closing it could save passengers one minute each way, or two minutes per day. It doesn't sound much but it is when multiplied over a year. Such savings would be at the expense of the relatively small number of Patterson Station users who would need to walk in the very worst case 800 metres more (and usually much less).


Patterson features an elevated platform somewhat cut off from its surrounds. The road already passes underneath so it has not needed to be rebuilt as part of the level crossing removal program. The removal of higher Zone 1+2 fares may have brought back patronage that was previously lost to Bentleigh. However too much of its walking catchment is overlapped by either Bentleigh and Moorabbin. Still, little has been spent on the station for years, and it shows! 

McKinnon

The same cannot be said for McKinnon Station. Relatively minor McKinnon Rd got grade separated around the time that busier North and Centre Rd did. That meant the station got rebuilt into something grand. Watch the opening festivities here. 



Should McKinnon have been rebuilt? It's busier than Patterson. And for that matter stations down the line like Bonbeach and Edithvale. However it is much closer to stations either side as per the map below: 



The 800 metre spacing gives it very little unique catchment given that stations either side are 1600 metres separate. The unique catchment would have been even less if we had provided Bentleigh with an extra northern entrance. Unfortunately multiple station entrances is something designers too often scrimp on. 

Unlike Patterson, McKinnon does have a bus (the 626). However if the station was closed it could be rerouted via Bentleigh. This would probably make the route busier due to a new connection to the thriving Bentleigh shops. And it would provide a direct route to Carnegie, another developing area. 


Benefits and disbenefits 

Station closures to speed travel typically have asymmetrical benefits. That is many passengers gain slightly while a small pocket of passengers near the closed station lose a lot more. The latter can make station closures bad politics as people who have had something taken away make more noise than those who would stand to gain. 

Here are some numbers to help quantify whether closing the two Frankston line stations with the most overlapping walking catchments would be for the greater good or not. 

Patterson

2018/9 annual station boardings (Patterson): 354 000
2018/9 annual station boardings (Moorabbin - Frankston): 8 317 000 

I will assume the following: 
* 100% of access to Patterson is by walking (an overestimate)
* Patterson passengers will walk an extra 5 minutes on average to Moorabbin or Bentleigh
* Expressing trains through Patterson will save an average 1 minute in travel time
* One-third of Moorabbin - Frankston passengers will benefit from above (those who don't are either on express trains or are using the train for local trips) 

Annual extra minutes for Patterson passengers: 1 770 000 minutes extra
Annual saved minutes for Moorabbin - Frankston passengers: 2 772 000 minutes saved
Overall annual saved minutes: 1 000 000 (but could be higher)

McKinnon

2018/9 annual station boardings (McKinnon): 450 000
2018/9 annual station boardings (Bentleigh - Frankston): 9 398 000 

I will assume the following: 
* 100% of access to McKinnon is by walking (an overestimate)
* McKinnon passengers will walk an extra 5 minutes on average to Ormond or Bentleigh
* Expressing trains through McKinnon will save an average 1 minute in travel time
* One-third of Bentleigh - Frankston passengers will benefit from above (those who don't are either on express trains or are using the train for local trips) 

Annual extra minutes for Patterson passengers: 2 250 000 minutes extra
Annual saved minutes for Moorabbin - Frankston passengers: 3 132 000 minutes saved
Overall annual saved minutes: 900 000 (but could be higher)

Conclusion

Patterson station should be demolished and McKinnon should not have been rebuilt

Very roughly closing Patterson and McKinnon stations could save Frankston line passengers nearly 2 million minutes per year. That number may well be higher as it doesn't count those boarding at stations north of those considered travelling towards Southland/Frankston. Neither have I counted Stony Point line passengers  (around 100k boardings/year) as I'm assuming that their travel is primarily local/Frankston/Southland. Plus non-walking access (normally faster with a wider choice of surrounding stations) hasn't been considered. Hence overall time savings could well be more. 

Two million saved minutes per year is over 30 000 saved hours or 1300 saved person-days. That's a big number! Transport infrastructure and service planners should be considering these sorts of benefits when designing projects and services. That includes smaller infrastructure and signalling projects that can save a minute here and there (eg train speeds on the approach to Frankston often appear slow), along with more efficient operational practices. If these are done time savings could be even higher. 

A bolder Frankston line grade separation program could have included works that closed Patterson and not rebuilt McKinnon. Bentleigh could have got a northern entrance to assist current McKinnon passengers. And dingy Moorabbin could have got a needed facelift, with better access to the north, including across South Rd, to assist current Patterson passengers. 

Other offsetting project could have included (a) improved 7 - 9am Sunday morning train frequencies, especially outbound direction, (b) full time staffing at Ormond Station and (c) major bus operating hours and frequency upgrades on major routes such as the 630, 703 and 824, local routes (like 625, 626 and 823) and a new East Boundary Rd SmartBus and (d) better, ie multimodal, passenger information at stations. The bus changes, especially would benefit a much wider area, particularly suburbs just beyond walking distance from station such as Bentleigh East. And they would aid a lot of short distance local travel. 

Wider station spacing where walking catchments eat into one another would provide all-day faster service on the Frankston line without having to compromise frequency by having some trains operate express and others stop all stations. Also coverage would be substantially preserved. 

Politically acceptable alternatives, assuming we are planning on keeping Patterson and do not wish to close the near-new McKinnon, could be an all day two tier express/stopping service with each tier operating every 10 minutes. This would be operationally dearer but give some travel time savings. And frequency would be compromised per operational dollar spent, especially at night when driving is so much faster. But if we're not closing too-close stations, finding alternative means of speeding the service is essential given the current slowness of Frankston line travel and competition from road, which is faster for some trips it shouldn't be. 

Comments are invited and can be left below. In particular discussion on the pros and cons of this and other station closures or mergers is encouraged. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Timetable Tuesday #101: New bus timetables for the new train timetables

New train timetables are starting on January 31 on many lines. Some 450 services are being added with many more trips moved in time. Bus timetables are also changing, with the stated intention being to fully align all bus services with the new rail timetable

However the bus time revisions won't happen all in the one go. The first lot will happen on the same day when the train times change (January 31). More timetables will be revised on 28 February. The third and final stage will be 11 April. 

The above link lists routes whose times are changing first. It's a substantial effort, involving over 90 routes.  

The most conspicuous non-inclusions in the first round are buses in Ballarat and Melton.

Both bus systems operate at a base frequency of 30 or 60 minutes. That is compatible with trains that are hourly for Ballarat and two trains per hour for Melton (on weekdays). The upgraded train timetable boosts Ballarat to every 40 minutes (off-peak) and Melton to every 20 minutes. Hence there will be a period of one month (best scenario) or 2.5 months (worse scenario) of broken harmonisation between trains and buses. That is trains with a 20/40 pulse trying to be met by buses every 30 or 60 minutes.

On the other hand it could be argued that fewer passengers will be affected compared to say Wyndham (especially Point Cook) where there are many more bus+train multimodal passengers. Bus routes in Wyndham will eventually get revised timetables but not in this first tranche.  

Bacchus March, in between Ballarat and Melton, in contrast, does get new timetables on the 31st. That is good since Bacchus Marsh is one of the Ballarat line stations getting the biggest changes to its train times. 

Also getting a change is Brunwick's Route 509, an hourly shopper route whose passengers are not very likely to connect with trains. It wouldn't feature if you wanted to do the most important routes first. However timetabling is closely related to driver rostering. Even if only some operators' routes need rescheduling then it may be expedient to adjust times of them all to maintain rostering efficiency.    

A good touch is that Night Buses are amongst those getting new timetables in the first round. If that wasn't the case then connections between hourly trains and these (also hourly) would be thrown out. 

Casual readers might take PTV at its word with regards to fully aligning bus services with the new train timetable. Unfortunately, just as PTV undersold the train upgrades, this time it's overselling the bus recoordination since some routes being altered will remain running at frequencies that inherently cannot consistently connect with trains. Where this is the case any realignment can only ever be partial unless major changes are made to bus frequencies to harmonise with trains.

An example is the popular bus route 536 between Glenroy and Gowrie. which retains its 30 minute frequency between two train lines that run every 20 minutes. True recoordination would harmonise frequencies by upgrading 536 to every 20 minutes and adjusting times to optimise connectivity at Glenroy, Gowrie or preferably both (if possible) in the main travel direction. This is not an isolated case with Routes 528, 532, 534 also remaining unharmonised with trains. 

The new bus timetables do involve at least one service cut. Before you go tut-tutting about that, you need to know that it is to a very underused bus route that should never have got the service it did when it started a few years back. Route 890 between Dandenong and Lynbrook serves largely an industrial catchment. Since it started it ran 7 days until 9pm with a 40 minute weekend frequency. On Sundays in particular it gets a superior service to busier routes like 800 (no service) and 733 (hourly) as I pointed out last year. The weekend service has been very poorly used. The new timetable reduces the frequency from 40 to 60 minutes to reflect this low usage. This adjustment is appropriate especially if the freed resources are moved to boost service on a more deserving route. 

Route 511 is a growth area bus between Donnybrook and Beveridge. It remains with one weekday morning service (each way) and two weekday afternoon services (each way). The eagle eyed will see a  new footnote besides the final trip. This states that the bus now returns to Donnybrook station. However this extra trip is not documented in the timetable going the other way. Also it will be interesting to attempt a journey plan to see if the journey planner recognises this extra capability. 


I didn't look at all timetables. But what I saw involved relatively minor time adjustments. Hence this effort could be described as a fairly minimalist recoordination effort rather than any sort of serious timetable and service review.

The principle though is good. We just need more proper area-based network reviews so we no longer have buses every 22, 23, 25, 26 or 30 minutes trying to connect with trains every 20 minutes (and mostly failing) as is currently widespread in parts of Melbourne

See all Timetable Tuesday items here