Sunday, June 08, 2008

Transferring at Chelsea: A case study

Today we look at Chelsea for an example where a poor stop location discourages passengers from catching buses or transferring to them from trains. Read a previous item for more information about easy and hard interchanges.

For those who haven't visited, Chelsea is a coastal suburb 30 kilometres south of Melbourne on the Frankston railway. As the largest commercial centre between Mentone and Frankston on the Nepean Highway, Chelsea is designated as a 'major activity centre' in the Melbourne 2030 plan.

As well as the train, Chelsea is the southern terminus of the 888/889 premium service SmartBus route that runs to Nunawading via Springvale Road. It is the access to this major bus route from the shops and station at Chelsea that is the subject of this post.

The following two videos show the access arrangements between Nepean Hwy Chelsea and the 888/889 bus stop to Nunawading.

Part 1

Part 2

As shown the barriers for intending passengers to reach the stop from the shops on Nepean Highway are formidable. Passengers must wait at no less than four pedestrian actuated crossings to reach the stop. Even with a clear level crossing, typical access time is over four minutes for a stop that should be reachable in one.

Because they don't have to cross the highway, transferring train passengers do slightly better; they only have three waits for the 'little green man'. However they still need to complete three sides of a square and the indirect access only encourages risk taking behavour across the unsignalised portion of the intersection (map below). Uncertain bus times may exacerbate this as bus timetables are not provided at station exits.

How can access be improved to provide the sort of well-connected hub that Melbourne 2030 advocates for places like Chelsea? We'll assume that Nepean Highway is there to stay, so that crossing will always remain. Ditto for the railway line. So that leaves the location of the bus stop, which is discussed in the next part.

Part 3

Moving the bus stop to the south side of Chelsea Rd would reduce the number of road crossings required from 4 to 1 for passengers arriving from Nepean Highway. Those transferring from the train fare even better with a reduction from 3 to 0. Train-bus interchange times could fall by 80-90%. Position relative to the existing underpass is also better; this could reduce pedestrian congestion at the current rail crossing and improve access to the southern part of the Chelsea retail strip, including the proposed Safeway Centre redevelopment.


Anonymous said...

So the question is, Peter, why? Who plans these bus-stops.

Why is bus-rail interchange not taken seriously?

And what is Mr Bowen doing about it?

Loose Shunter said...

Riccardo, the answer is that everyone and at the same time no one plans these bus interchanges. Local councils, bus operators, rail operators, tram operators, DOT, DPCD, architects, etc, etc, etc. But no-one plans these bus interchanges by pulling the elements together.

I reckon modal interchanges are not taken seriously because of the silo mentality that still exists among operators - that their responsibility stops at the train station, bus stop, etc. And also the lack of a 'firm hand' to get these things taken seriously. (Refer back to the lack of integrated transport planning, service planning and land-use planning.)

I think Bowen, D. does nothing about it because modal interchanges are not an argument that condenses easily into a 30-second soundbite that gets onto the TV news.


P.S. Peter, loving the good work you're doing on the blog.

While there are many 'stakeholders', there is no single body that integrates service planning, service provision and land use planning.

Anonymous said...

Peter and LS

Consider the following hypothetical station.

I can't link to an image so here goes

TRACK ->direction of travel
TRACK <-direction of travel

Now if the passenger disembarks at the east end of the station, and can immediately exit the station through an open gate, and there is a level crossing immediately outside (eg Clayton), and the gates are down because the train has just departed, the pax get the benefit and can cross the road. But if no gate at the LX end, can't. Will need to stop the traffic again to cross.

Just occurred to me this morning - some stations are poorly laid out for this.

Anonymous said...

Riccardo, agreed. Plus you've reminded me of train/tram interchange at Glenhuntly that I'll write up soon.

In the absence of better offerings*, boom gates are sometimes the walker's friend.

Conversely grade seperations, like roundabouts, improve (car) traffic flow but can make matters worse for pedestrians, not better.

However my guess is that what you suggest would be considered an 'informal', 'non-approved' or 'fortuitous' crossing opportunity and not figure highly in planning.

Crossing the 'approved' way could mean: Walking 200m down the road, pressing the button, waiting 60-90 sec, crossing on the green man and then walking back 200m.

This might take 4 times as long as the direct route, and add 15 minutes to 'total travel time' (ref your tutorial) if transferring from a non-headway harmonised bus (ref mine!).

But in allowing this, the traffic engineers would be safe in the knowledge that no cars were delayed by more than the prescribed 60 or whatever seconds in the granting of this pedestrian's access.

An example would be Ormond for transfers from the Monash Uni bus (630) to the Frankston line. This is hardly an obscure interchange, and one that could be popular due to its fare advantages over Route 900 at Caulfield.

The pedestrian actually hopes there's a train (in the opposite to desired direction of course) since the (informal) transfer ease is magnified.

Like Carnegie (but not Clayton or Bentleigh) there's an underpass. Hence grade seperation at Ormond has clear pedestrian disbenefits, some bus passenger benefits but larger car driver benefits (ie the most sustainable transport is penalised most).

(*) often slim, partly because pedestrians lack the publicity and lobby of passengers and cyclists, despite their larger numbers.

Anonymous said...

I've had a small look at this, and it appears to me (quite uneducated in these matters but willing to learn) that the bus stop is on the other side of Chelsea Road because the 888 and 889 buses travel down Chelsea Road and turn right into Station Street. Given that this is the end of the line for these buses, requiring them to do a loop so that they can face the correct way again, I see two potential options to get the bus stop on the other side of Chelsea Road (combining with the Rail Replacement Bus):

1. Change the bus's route to go down Blantyre or Catherine Avenues - the pitfall here being that there's no traffic light for the bus to turn right onto Station Street resulting in carnage during morning peak hour;
2. Change the bus's route to go down Catherine Avenue and then Fowler, finally turning right on Argyle (or whatever other street it is that also has a traffic light at its corner with Station Street). Would this be feasible, particularly the little 'chicane'?

I'd be very curious to know other people's thoughts...