Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Airport Bus Network

Australia's capital cities have different approaches when it comes to providing airport public transport. Perth (Domestic) and Adelaide run airport services as part of the regular bus network. Sydney and Brisbane have privately-built lines that charge a premium fare.

Like the smaller cities Melbourne uses buses, with the services offered representing both the extreme best and the extreme worst of bus transport in Melbourne. At the top end we have the premium fare exress Skybus, which offers train-level travel speeds and frequent service at all times. At the bottom end we have three very infrequent and poorly signed regular bus routes that not even airport staff know about (picture below).

The equivalent pictures for Sydney, showing wayfinding signs and timetables full of services, are below:

Somebody over at Transport Textbook has posted a piece that contains many good points. Most pertinent to this article is the fact that airports are major employment centres and should receive similar service to any other major suburban centre.

As mentioned in one of the responses, local buses around Melbourne Airport are being reviewed. There are also plans afoot to include the Airport as an orbital bus route stop. Hence if you want better services to Melbourne Airport, now is a good time to lodge a submission to this effect. The deadline is February 28. See the Department of Transport website for more details.

Following are possible plans for an airport bus network serving the major surrounding suburbs. The most frequent service would run to Broadmeadows to connect with trains. It would have limited stops, run every 20 minutes and be shown as a dotted line on rail network maps. Other services could run to (i) Sydenham via Airport West and (ii) Sunbury, with the latter timed to connect with V/Line trains. All centres served are significant local train, tram or bus nodes, so it should be possible for a significant part of the airport's workforce to commute with no or one change of vehicle.


Anonymous said...

Is the sevrice so poor because Skybus have pressure the govt not to run other services?

Peter Parker said...

Ricc, I don't know.

But it is true that these routes (notably 479) have suffered from more than usual neglect.

One even gets the feeling the government is blindly paying the operator to run the service and neither cares if anyone uses it.

While it doesn't identify a cause, the evidence of inertia/indifference cannot be clearer and includes:

1. the continued subsidy and running of the useless route 479 from the city (two services per week depart the city for Melbourne Airport) when it deserves to be killed off.

2. The fact that for years this service departed from an unmarked stop in the city (now corrected).

To catch the bus you needed to look for a certain type of street pole in Flinders St somewhere near Olivers Lane. But even that didn't always work; once when a group of us tried to catch it the driver missed us (ask mjja about it!)

3. As demonstrated by the photo the lack of a timetable at Melbourne airport to tell you it's 90 minutes wait until the next bus!

Unknown said...

Peter I can't help but notice your proposed map removes the Airport service from Essendon / Moonee Ponds / Niddrie area, something which I entirely disagree with. Any hope of attracting local airport workers to use public transport (in combination with an upgraded frequency) will be lost.

Somebody said...

Decent network you designed although I would personally through route the Sunbury & Broadmeadows routes (like present) as there would be some through patronage.

Main absentee is any kind of link to the Essendon/Niddrie area (as Damo has mentioned) but there is the change for the tram at Airport West.

Definitely agree on the neglect being further than usual. Oddly, there's about an hourly frequency of 478s on weekends (which also divert via Gladstone Park, in one direction only), which is better than the 4 hour gap on weekdays!

I caught the 500 about a year ago after arriving on a flight and I recall that the area near that pole isn't actually reserved for the route buses. The driver had to double park so he could pick up pax!

Peter Parker said...

Damo, yes a direct service would be good. Though of course there's the trade-off between (i) economy, (ii) frequency and (iii) fewest transfers. You can always have 2 but you can never have 3. The network I've designed wins on economy and frequency but forces transfers.

Somebody: re double parking, this still happens; I caught the 479 about a month ago and noticed the bay was filled with minibuses etc.

Anonymous said...

Peoples - why do we think the example of the young uni student earning part time money at the airport bookshop is not worthy enough of a bus service?

All we get when airport ground transport proposals are put up is passengers, pilots and aircraft technicians, as if they are the only people who use or work at airports?

Now I'm not suggesting welfare funding, but Skybus is not a mass transport option and is designed to only take people to the western CBD, not Broady or Sunbury