Monday, April 19, 2010

The new Wyndham local bus network

A new local bus network with added coverage, new routes and widespread 7-day service commenced today in the City of Wyndham. Wyndham is an outer suburban municipality 25-30km west of Melbourne. It contains both established and new housing areas and a mixed demographic profile dominated by young families. Major suburbs include Hoppers Crossing, Werribee, Point Cook, Wyndham Vale and Tarneit.

I have had a soft spot for the previous Wyndham network and admired its planned connectivity with trains. However it was not without its disadvantages, which included:

* Lack of coverage in new housing areas such as Manor Lakes, Wyndham Vale, Tarneit and Point Cook and industrial areas in Laverton North.

* No evening or Sunday service in most areas

* Indirect routes, including some confusing circular services

* The lack of frequent, direct and legible routes between major trip generators

These have all been acknowleded by public and expert opinion through the area's local bus review. The new network is the response to these. Unlike elsewhere, where review implementation has been gradual, Wyndham saw wholesale changes, all starting today.

Features of this new network include:

* New and extended routes for added coverage of Manor Lakes, Wyndham Vale, Tarneit, Point Cook and Laverton North

* Better legibility by breaking up the confusing circular bidirectional route 440

* 7 day service (including public holidays) in most areas

* Service extended to 8 or 9 pm in most areas

* A 40 minute frequency to apply 7 days a week on most routes (this is superior to the hourly minimum standards that apply in most outer suburbs)

* Greatly improved service to the Werribee Mansion and Zoo, including a more direct route, higher frequency plus Sunday and public holiday running

Some other points about the changes are below:

* Majority of routes have 7 day running at frequencies higher than the minimum standards. However some finish earlier than the 9pm standard that applies in other areas.

* Route 436 has lost its 9pm Saturday service ex Werribee. However this service continues to run Sunday – Friday. Plus the route gains a more frequent Sunday service.

* The replacement of Route 438 to Manor Lakes by routes 446, 447, 448 and 449. These provide service to north-west Werribee, Wyndham Vale and/or Manor Lakes.

* The old circular Route 440 has been deleted and incorporated into other routes. Its closest successor is the new 446. This somewhat indirect route operates from Laverton to Hoppers Crossing via Werribee Plaza, north-west Werribee, Werribee Station and Princes Hwy.

* Route 443 is a circular route serving areas south of Werribee. It demographics are less favourable for patronage than routes north of Werribee. However it receives bidirectional coverage until 9pm 7 days a week (only 1 bus is required to achieve this).

* Routes 413, 416 and 437, which serve areas potential further from railway stations, have earlier finish times than the 9pm minimum standard. However their service frequencies exceed the minimum standard (40 vs 60 minutes) 7 days a week.

* Service frequencies are constant during the day, and the resources previously used for higher peak frequencies on some routes (eg 440) are now used elsewhere.

* A portion of Laverton (Bladin Street) receives frequent service (6 - 7 buses per hour approx) as two new routes now serve it (in addition to two existing routes).

* Express running continues on Route 445 which remains unchanged.

* The Wyndham Vale/Manor Lakes area routes (446, 447, 448 & 449) have similar departure times 7 days a week. These make for a form of ‘memory timetable’. However the Point Cook area routes (413 and 416) do not.

* Use is made of Route 413 and 416 to provide a 20 minute combined service on weekends between Hoppers Crossing, Point Cook and Aircraft Station. However during the week both buses depart within a few minutes of one another, providing a ‘lumpy’ timetable with long waits. An opportunity may exist to operate the weekend timetable on weekdays and thus double effective frequency.

* While the number of routes serving north-western Werribee, Wyndham Vale and Manor Lakes has doubled, the effective frequency has remained the same because the four new routes (446, 447, 448 and 449) all depart Werribee almost at the same time. Then there are no services for 30 minutes until the next pulse of 4 buses. Again it may be possible to co-schedule existing routes to provide a more evenly spaced combined service, along the lines of the concept below.

To conclude, today's changes introduce improved coverage, widespread Sunday running, and some span improvements. The 40 minute service frequency is better than average (especially on Sundays) for outer suburban buses and is only slightly less than weekend SmartBus standards. It is an adequate 'safety net' frequency but may be less suitable for commuters making connections from the train. Nevertheless, as proved in other areas where bus reviews have been implemented, substantial patronage growth is likely in Wyndham for some time to come.


Anonymous said...

Now that they have re-routed the bus off Werribee Street North how about they actually remove the big pebblemix / cement bus stop shelter on the cnr of Edgar and Werribee Street North?

Graffiti and rubbish strewn the shelter now serves no purpose.

I rang up the office of Tim Pallas our local member - they couldn't be less interested.

Riccardo said...

PP. The thing that annoys me is that a line towards Point Cook could have been built instead of that wasteful thing from Westona to Laverton.