Thursday, March 23, 2006

Herald Sun: Smartbuses a bomb

From Herald Sun 23 March 2006:

SMARTBUS, a central plank of the Government's transport vision, has bombed, leaving Victorians with a $68 million white elephant that is now being torn down.

The futuristic bus system designed to run on five major city arterials was meant to be a cure-all for road gridlock and public transport black holes.

SmartBus stops are meant to display real arrival times based on traffic conditions and satellite tracking of buses. more (HS link).

A couple of comments about the Herald Sun article. It is possibly unfair in that it doesn't mention the service increases that occurred as part of the SmartBus program. Though initially not part of SmartBus, these extra services became the project's only tangible and successful component and resulted in worthwhile patronage increases. This (cheaper) part of SmartBus therefore deserves kudos.

Daniel Bowen's comment though was spot-on. Whether it's the dead monitors at Flinders Street Station, erroneous PIDs on trains, very modern trams that still display superseded route numbers, or the aforementioned not-very-smart bus displays, Melbourne's record with electronic passenger information systems is mixed at best.

Until this record changes, the famous luddism of Melbourne passengers (apparent in any serious discussion about electronic ticketing and/or pre-purchased tickets) will remain a rational response to the host of expensive short-lived fixes that have cost heaps but delivered little.

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