Sunday, July 15, 2007

How to effectively double bus service frequency

Where bus routes serve two stations on the one railway line, there may be scope to provide 'every train' connections even though the bus is only half as frequent as the train. In Melbourne potential routes include Altona - Laverton, St Albans - Watergardens, Seaford - Frankston, Hoppers Crossing - Werribee etc. A local example is Route 425 between St Albans and Sydenham; this connects with every evening train from Flinders Street until 8:23pm.

Click for larger version

That brings us to the end of The Connections Series. I hope that these examples demonstrate the contribution that careful scheduling can make in providing fast and frequent service on a well-connected network.

Comments are welcome and can be left below.


Daniel said...

While I can see this could be useful, it brings into question whether a single bus route should serve two stations on the one line (thus essentially is limited to local trips and feeding the stations), or whether it should be serving cross-suburban trips that aren't parallel to rail (which can potentially be more useful to more people).

Peter Parker said...

True, though it depends on the proximity of the other railway lines, whether they are parallel and if not, the angle between them.

In the eastern and inner northern suburbs parallel lines are close enough for routes to run between railway lines. And generally they should, with some exceptions eg Box Hill - Ringwood via Canterbury Rd.

But where lines are 90 degrees to one another bus distances can be quite long from outer areas. The most amount of distance saving is 30% (1.4 vs 2) and buses would need to be about 70% the speed of trains for it to break even.

Perth's Clarkson and Midland lines are an example; anyone wanting to go from Clarkson to Midland are still better off to change at Perth rather than a direct bus (which doesn't exist) or via the circle route at Stirling.

In contrast a direct bus would be the logical choice for a trip like Frankston - Cranbourne (subject to available services) as the angle at Caulfield/Dandenong is more acute.

The outer northern suburbs of Melbourne are akin to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne (Craigieburn and Roxburgh Pk - Epping) are practical and useful routes like Ringwood to Dandenong.

But the western suburbs are more like the Perth example due to fragmented development, distance and a limited road network. No one will take a bus from Werribee to Sydenham since transferring trains at Footscray would be quicker (even though there's a Laverton - Sunshine bus).

Thus you're right: the example is not for everywhere, but it really shines for the the sort of fragmented outer areas with little interstitial development and currently infrequent services.

Anonymous said...

This has been an interesting read!
I had written to Transperth many many moons ago regarding the clustering of connecting buses at suburban stations from ex-Perth trains in the evenings. An example is Whitfords and Warwick stations where even though the train arrives at 30 min intervals ALL the connecting buses connect from the same train. So effectively there are 4 Warwick to Whitfords buses departing simultaneously (2 west of the railway and 2 east) Considering that a vast majority of the people live between the feeder bus routes having a 30 as opposed to 60 minute frequency in the evening seems like a no-brainer. I don't believe their current practice is the most effective. I say this with respect to and as an alternative regarding your post on Melbourne bus-train evening connections.