Sunday, November 29, 2009

Our last Sunday-only route - the end of the 769

One requirement of a legible transport network are routes that are the same seven days a week.

Cities with less developed or patronised public transport (eg Canberra) often break this rule. In such places weekend and evening routes are combined loop services that cover the same area as two or more straighter weekday routes. Such routes may be introduced to save money as they allow a given frequency to be maintained with fewer buses. Unfortunately their reduced directness can slow travel and the extra routes and numbers can confuse passengers.

In contrast, Melbourne has generally avoided seperate weekend routes and route numbers. Instead when Sunday service was introduced it was largely provided through improved existing routes instead of new Sunday-only routes. This makes for a more legible service.

There were however two recent exceptions.

The first was Dysons Route 569. This ran from Greensborough to Epping Plaza, and operated in place of Route 566 to Lalor on Sundays. It ceased when 566 gained Sunday running on 4 June 2007.

Then there's Route 769. This served Frankston, Karingal, and initially Langwarrin. It commenced on 7 March 1999 and replaced routes 770/771 (Karingal area) and 790/791 (Langwarrin area) on Sundays and public holidays.

Route 769 changed on 30 March 2003 when Sunday service commenced on Route 791. 791 provided the Langwarrin service so 769 was pulled back to Karingal and extended north to Dalpura Circuit. Hence its function became strictly a Sunday and holiday-only substitute for routes 770 and 771, which operated Monday to Saturday only.

The final Route 769 departed Frankston at 5:05pm this afternoon with 15 passengers on board. Most had alighted by Centro Karingal with only a few staying on until the terminus in Dalpura Circuit (see picture). After a brief pause the bus returned without fanfare to Frankston via Centro Karingal, arriving at 5:47pm. A final wave from the driver drew this route to an end, with a new 7-day timetable for routes 770 and 771 commencing tomorrow.

A few metres away at Frankston Station, Connex, itself on its last day as Melbourne's train operator, serendipitously and apparently unknowingly saluted the 769's end. For, waiting at Platform 1, was a consist containg carriage number M769. This formed the next city-bound train, which departed at 5:52pm. So at least two passengers made the connection between the final bus route 769 and carriage M769.

What was 769's significance? Introduced at a time when very few Melbourne buses ran on Sundays, it demonstrated a demand existed for Sunday travel. Even though it only ran every two hours it showed that if a service is there people will use it. It may not be too much to say that its success paved the way for later more significant Sunday bus service improvements. However in 2009 the route had served its purpose and it was only fit that it was replaced by Sunday services on the regular routes in the area.

1 comment:

Craig said...

A correction Peter - 769 commenced on 8/3/98 not 7/3/99.

The revised timetable on the 7/3/99 I belive was to cater for through-routing with new Sunday services on Route 775.