Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The bad old days of timetables

Sometimes one comes across a gem too good to ignore on the one of the transport discussion boards. This one from 'scottydl' is on collecting Melbourne bus timetables 30 years ago.

With many small bus operators, no multi-operator Met Shop and, sometimes, no timetables in print, getting a set of timetables was not easy in 1979. That unobtainability was just part of the fun for enthusiasts but, along with other factors, would have exacerbated the patronage decline across all modes at the time.

While bus drivers and railway stations vary in whether they carry timetables, their availability won't be as high as it could be. However reading the 1979 account shows vividly that the 'good old days' often weren't and since then paper timetable availabilty has improved greatly.

Then there's internet timetables, which of course didn't exist in 1979. These started becoming available in the last years of The Met (circa 1997). Except for the government-sponsored NightRider (which has always had more government oversight than regular bus routes), timetables were initially hosted on operator websites only. This caused variations between formats and even availability. The last Melbourne bus timetable to go online was the Hope Street bus (Route 509) in 2003 when Metlink started hosting the timetables themselves.

1 comment:

Jarrett at said...

Thanks for this history! One definitely had to be resourceful and patient to figure out public transit in 1979, in almost any city.

By the way, thanks for linking to my blog, "Human Transit," but despite the frequent discussion of North America, I'm actually in Sydney, so not "overseas."

Cheers, Jarrett at