Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Timetable preview: SmartBus 900

The fourth SmartBus service starts next week and timetables are now out.

Route 900 operates from Caulfield to Rowville. It runs roughly parallel to the rail line until Huntingdale, parallels Route 630 to Monash Uni and terminates at Stud Park Shopping Centre via Wellington Road. As well as providing quite frequent 7-day service to a swathe of suburbs east of Springvale that have never before had it, it will reduce the need to go into the city for local trips within Melbourne's east.

Monday to Saturday service spans are similar to trains: 5am to 11:30pm. Sunday service starts about 2 hours later and finishes about 2 hours earlier.

Weekday services are roughly every 15 minutes from approximately 7am to 9pm. However the effects of peak hour traffic can be seen, with longer trips and service intervals creeping up to 20 minutes. At other times, services are a clockface 30 minutes. However, it cannot be said to be a common timetable; Saturday buses depart Rowville at :28 and :58, while Sunday buses depart at :10 and :40. Coincidentally these exact times are also departures from Caulfield, but reversed by day.

Run lengths ranges from 41 minutes late at night, to 50 minutes on weekends to over an hour during peak times. These times are short for any route that goes by Chadstone, and the reason is apparent from the route map; unlike other services, Route 900 serves stops on Princes Hwy and does not pull in. The Chadstone interchanges must cost millions in wasted bus operating hours per year, but given its importance as a trip generator (and annointed 2030 activity centre) it will be interesting to see how long 900 can keep avoiding it.

There is one final question. Is 900 a limited stop service or not? The timtable makes no reference to it, but the 'Leader' newspaper ads do. It will be interesting to find out next week, as there's pros and cons in both approaches.


David said...

So... What is a SmartBus? I haven't yet been able to work out what they are, and what's special about them.


Peter Parker said...

David, SmartBus has a brief entry here: http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/meltrip/glossary.htm

More detail appears on the Vicroads website: http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/vrne/vrne5nav.nsf/LinkView/E628F12C6F2B9372CA2570A4002BB7DB0EA8FB917948C78ECA256FD300241C4F