Monday, March 03, 2008

Route 401's first day

Today was the start of services on bus route 401, a limited stop service operating between North Melbourne Station and Melbourne University. The route is designed to relieve pressure on the City Loop by allowing passengers to get a direct bus to Royal Melbourne Hospital/Melbourne University instead of going via Melbourne Central and changing to a tram.

Services run Monday to Friday between 7am and 7:30pm. 401's frequent service (three minutes peak and six minutes off-peak) is unheard of for a Melbourne bus route. In addition it is a prepay-only route, meaning that passengers need to have a ticket beforehand and can't buy one from the driver.

Signage was provided at North Melbourne to market the new route. Staff were also posted at major stops to hand out leaflets and assist passengers.

Healthy patronage has been reported by others who were present earlier in the day. As would be expected there's a one-way bias, with afternoon services from North Melbourne being very quiet (1-3 people) and somewhat more usage (5 - 15) on trips towards North Melbourne.

Journey time between North Melbourne and Grattan Street is approximately 10 minutes. When the bus reached Lincoln Square North, another 10 minutes was required to go round the block to Grattan Street due to near-gridlock in Swanston Street. In the afternoons at least this choke-point is the main impediment to obtaining greater efficiencies.

Below are some photos taken during the pm peak.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bit of positive action by utter fool Kosky. I don't like the whole naming of the bus route painted on the actual bus. I think all of Melbourne's bus routes should be uniformly painted a set series of colours (irrespective of model or size of bus) and just have the destination and naming different. That's much easier and more integrated.

Jase said...

I catch the 401 often. it runs every 3 minutes peak and every 6 off-peak, about 12 hours a day. The target market is people coming in from nth melb station, but i just happen to live very nearby and work at the uni. Patronage seems low, but because journeys are so short, perhaps there are more boardings per hour than there appear...

either way i suspect that part of the point of the service is to reduce pressure on melb central and the trams up to the uni, so i guess the bus doesn't have to pay for itself.

incidentally, the signage on the bus is great in distinguishing from a distance the 401 from the footscray/dynon rd bus that also runs along grattan st.