Friday, February 21, 2020

Pictures of the new Carrum Sation

The new Carrum Station entered passenger service on Monday. It's the latest milestone in a package of works that saw the construction of a traffic bridge for Station St across the Patterson River last year. Other parts of the project include moving train stabling south to near Kananook, the extension of McLeod Rd to Nepean Hwy (under the new rail bridge) and a new outdoor plaza for the area. 

It includes elevated rail, similar to the Dandenong line. This was a matter of some political controversy; some wanted the line sunk rather than elevated. Complications with the Frankston line included 'preservation of bay views' as an argument against an elevated structure and electoral politics since Frankston line stations served marginal seats like Carrum, Mordialloc and Bentleigh that were deciders on who formed government in 2010 and 2014. 

The result was that the Dandenong line got sections of elevated rail while Frankston line grade separations are mostly trench rail. Carrum though is an exception, with it getting elevated rail. Unlike neighbouring Bonbeach, Chelsea and Edithvale that are getting trench rail by 2022. 

Elevated rail has proved successful with some objectors becoming proponents. It's cheaper, quicker and less disruptive during construction than trench rail in many areas. It opened the ground area for other uses such as parks and recreation. And most of the political opposition vanished with grade separations being a major electoral plus for Labor in its large 2018 win. That result, despite anti-Skyrail campaigns, was so strong that the Frankston line seats are now held by Labor with large margins and several new seats in the traditionally Liberal east were won. 

Anyway below are some pictures of the new unfinished but in service Carrum station.

As the picture just above shows, Carrum is probably the station that has the best bay view from, taking that mantle from Brighton Beach. However its first week has seen some wild weather, with gales and heavy rain. Passengers scurrying to work or home might have appreciated it more if better and more continuous shelter coverage was provided along the platform, a design flaw that  dogs other recent stations such as Southland (Platform 2).

You might enjoy these well-regarded books on transport topics

Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit Steven Higashide NEW!

Breaking Point: The Future of Australian Cities Peter Seamer

The Public City: Essays in honour of Paul Mees Gleeson & Beza

A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, Institutions (Access Quintet Book 4) David Levinson

Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives Jarrett Walker

Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age Paul Mees

(Sales links: I get a small commission if you buy via the above - no extra cost to you)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Timetable Tuesday #62: Frankston's loopy 770 and 771

Certain pockets of Melbourne have concentrations of confusing bus routes. Reservoir is one. Another is Frankston. A local bus review was done about ten years ago but only minor things got implemented. We may have been closer to some larger reforms but it got knocked on the head ('deferred' might have been the official term) at the last minute.

In the case of new bus networks a deferral is as good as a cancellation, government assurances notwithstanding. If there's a chance of getting a small network improvement through you should grab the opportunity as it may be a decade or more before the chance comes again.

Bus network reform quickened during Terry Mulder's four years as minister. Good things were done but more remained undone. It basically stalled under the infrastructure-focused Jacinta Allan. And the pace has yet to increase under current "the jury's out" minister Melissa Horne. The result is that ten years on the 770 and 771 continue how they've always run. Why is this bad? Keep reading!

Both 770 and 771 provide the main service from Frankston to the Karingal area. That’s important because while a frequent service (789/90/91) operates along Cranbourne Rd, there is poor walking access north of it due to hilly topography and pedestrian-hostile impermeable street layouts.

Consequently an internal bus network for Karingal, as provided by routes 770 and 771, is essential. The 770 and 771 are closely related routes. In fact some trips, such as to Karingal Shopping Centre, require you to get the 770 in one direction and 771 on the return trip. The map below shows them both along with the 777 (covered previously).

Both routes have large loops. Route 770 has a loop at its end with Karingal Shopping Centre about midway along the loop. Route 771 has a loop part-way along it, then a section of two-way running from Karingal Shopping Centre then a small loop at its end near its Langwarrin terminus. Also shown on the map is a 770 variant. This is an occasional service covering the Orwil St area very different from the regular Route 770.

You can see how it relates to the broader Frankston network from the map below. Interestingly it does not show the deviation crossing Frank St.


Route 770 gets above average usage for a Melbourne bus route with 29 boardings per bus service hour. Its usage is relatively constant throughout the week, with similar Saturday to weekday usage and Sunday dropping slightly to 25 boardings per service hour. Strong weekend patronage is quite common in coastal areas such as Frankston. Older, often working class, middle northern and outer eastern suburbs often have much less weekend trading and bus patronage, particularly on Sundays.

Route 771 is a bit quieter with 22 boardings per service hour on weekdays, dropping to 16 on weekends. This is probably because the route is longer, extending into low density parts of Langwarrin where car ownership is higher and bus usage is less.  


Both routes operate at close to minimum standards, that is 7 days per week until approximately 9pm. The main exception where service falls short is 770’s early last departure from Frankston on weekends (8:23pm).  

Headways are uneven. On weekdays Route 770 operates every 30 to 40 min during peak periods and around 50 to 60 minutes off-peak. Weekends are a flat hourly service. Two off-peak trips operate between Frankston and Orwil St – there is very little in common between that and the other Route 770 services except for the route number. 

Route 771 has a more consistent timetable. This includes a 40 minute frequency on weekdays and hourly on evenings and weekends. Even though it is the quieter route its last trips are later at night than 770’s last trips, with the difference greatest on weekends. 

Despite having roughly similar service levels, no attempt appears to have been made to evenly stagger departures from Frankston to provide a doubled combined frequency for those near both routes, even during peak times. The story is similar on weekends where, instead of offset by an even 30 minutes, the departures are offset by 20 and 40 minutes. This may have made sense when Frankston trains were every 20 minutes on weekends but does not now that trains run every 10 minutes. 


What would you do with 770 and 771? Would you swap them over in the Karingal area so that both routes are simple bidirectional services? Is there scope for better connectivity with the frequent Cranbourne Rd services? And should their timetables be tidied up to provide more even frequencies and offsetting to maximise effective frequencies for those near both routes? Please share your thoughts in the comment below.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Building Melbourne's Useful Network Part 38: A Reservoir and Thomastown recap

Sometimes you describe something, look at it later and have second thoughts. These thoughts might have come from a conversation or a second look freshened by the passing of time. 

A recent example is Reservoir’s bus network. 

There's no doubt that the existing bus network west of Reservoir is very poor. Routes like 553 start from near they are finish and have deviations that duplicate other routes. Then there's the execrable 558, Melbourne's only bus that has a midday direction reversal where Saturday morning service goes the same way as weekday afternoon service. Its limited operating hours also deny areas west of Reservoir weekend service. 

I discussed one approach to fixing 553 and 558 two weeks ago in Useful Network 36.  I made 558 bidirectional and extended it to Northland via the Route 555 alignment. Route 555 was modified to replace 553, with it running to the latter’s Thornbury terminus instead of Northland. Route 526 was then extended eastward to Northland and then in a merger with the 550 to La Trobe University. You can see this in the map below.

While a simpler network it would have had its detractors. For example the popular Route 555 got a less popular southern terminus that’s really only of local rather than regional significance (like Northland is). And the 558, although straighter, remained with a weak northern terminus good for connecting with the 902 orbital but little else.

Sometimes casting one’s net wider can generate other ideas that lead to an overall better network.

Consider Lalor and Thomastown for instance. Areas east of the railway have buses running to a variety of destinations. For example Bundoora RMIT (566 and 570), Reservoir (556), Epping Station (556) and Epping Plaza (556 again but indirectly).

That is not so for those significantly west of High St. Local routes 554 and 557 run to Thomastown and Lalor. Route 357 to the north operates to Epping. However there are no connections to the south or east. That stymies access to destinations such as Coburg, Reservoir, La Trobe University and Northland. And what should be a one-change trip often involves two changes. This is because, similar to the Hadfield / Broadmeadows divide, there are no north-south buses. Instead the 357, which ought to be the north-south bus, turns to terminate at the minor but impressively stationed Thomastown, just like everything else in the area.  

A minor southern extension of the 357 to Reservoir would change all this.  Instead of alighting at Thomastown, waiting up to 20 minutes for a train and then potentially another similar wait for a bus, vastly more destinations would be available with a single change at Reservoir. These include Coburg, La Trobe University and alternative routes to Northland. Access to jobs in the industrial area near the M80 and connections to the 902 orbital SmartBus would become possible.

This alignment serves many areas away from stations and possibly justifies a 20 minute interpeak service given favourable catchment demographics. However it does not need to serve north and south of Epping. Instead the route could be split, with 357 operating to Wollert and an extended and upgraded 558 taking over Edgars Rd to operate between Reservoir and Epping. Then it would become a mirror image of the successful 556 along Dalton Rd east of the railway.

What are the implications of this for western Reservoir? There would be another route, which would be a major bonus for a historically underserved area. The 553 could be retained in a much simpler form with an extension to north-western Reservoir, serving areas that the 558 currently stops at. The 526 would still extend east to Northland while the 555 can retain its current alignment to Northland (but with an upgrade to an even 20 minute frequency).
Route 558 would be timed to meet trains at Reservoir, with its 20 minute frequency providing consistent connections. The portion north of Epping which remains as the 357, would connect with trains at Epping, preferably with a 20 minute offset with Route 356 to permit a combined 10 min peak/20 min interpeak service in the overlap portion (although note stop placement issues discussed here).


Presented is an alternative network for western Reservoir that also delivers substantial benefits for Thomastown and Lalor. It shows how time can change how one sees the network and the ideas one has for its improvement. If you have comments on it please leave them below.

An index to all Useful Networks is here.