Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Timetable Tuesday #21: Four kilometres in one hour - a look at Route 736

Mitcham and Blackburn are adjacent but one stops on the Belgrave/Lilydale train line. You can walk between them in about 40 minutes. Mitcham residents must therefore wonder what the purpose of a bus route going to Blackburn would be.  Especially if it takes longer to ride the bus than to walk. 

However such a bus route exists.  In fact there are two. But today we’ll only discuss the 736.  As you’ll see from the map below it’s like a bent hairpin.  Its major stop in the south is Glen Waverley Station.  Other trip generators include shopping centres at Vermont South, Burwood East and Forest Hill. It also goes east, serving parts of the City of Knox.  While not communicated as such (eg with different route numbers) it is probably better to see the 736 as two separate north-south routes, terminating at Glen Waverley.

The map below shows how Route 736 sits with surrounding routes.

What are the 736’s timetables like? I’ll show times for both directions as there are some interesting quirks.

End to end weekday travel time on the 736 is a bit over one hour. This is a difficult run time to schedule buses for if you want harmonised 20 or 30 minute frequencies.  Weekday headways are an uneven 30 to 40 minutes with headways widening to about 50 minutes for evening trips towards Blackburn.  Notable towards Mitcham is a short higher frequency period in the morning peak and a 61 minute gap in the late morning due to a trip terminating at Glen Waverley. 

While weekday service levels on both the Blackburn and Mitcham halves are broadly similar, this is not so on Saturdays. The full length route operates about hourly.  However extra trips to and from Mitcham provide a 30 minute service between there and Glen Waverley. 

Sunday is roughly an hourly service over the full route. Its span meets minimum standards in that trips commence before 9am.  However the length of the route means they reach their termini shortly before 10am. When combined with a train trip this makes the 736 unsuitable for those needing to be in the city much before 11am.  

What (if anything) would you do with the 736?  Would splitting it into two make it easier to understand? Should it get more even weekday frequencies and earlier Sunday service?  Extra points if you consider its relationship with other routes in the area, especially where overlaps exist.

You might enjoy these well-regarded books on transport topics

Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit Steven Higashide NEW!

The Public City: Essays in honour of Paul Mees Gleeson & Beza

A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, Institutions (Access Quintet Book 4) David Levinson

Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives Jarrett Walker

Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age Paul Mees

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Steve said...

This route is what you get when you decide everyone has to live within 400m of a bus stop, and draw squiggly lines along back streets accordingly.

I'd abolish it and re-allocate the buses to run more frequent direct services on main roads. Canterbury Road, for example.

Paul Nicholson said...

The Mitcham to Glen Waverley section is portion of the former route 631 that operated to Southland. Route 631 now operates from Waverley Gardens to Southland via Monash University. The section between Glen Waverley and Monash University was taken over by the 737.

Daniel said...

Paul's comment helps a lot, as it explains the context and how this U-shaped route came about. As Peter has written, it's really two routes that happen to be connected.

Splitting it might make sense, but you'd need to look at how many people use it for local trips along the bottom section of the U.

Luke M said...

I always thought that the 736 should be Blackburn to Glen Waverley only.

New bus route #739 Mitcham to Monash University via Glen Waverly. Interweave the 737 & 739 between Glen Waverley and Monash University to provide a rapid service.

Tom said...

I would split the 736 into 3:

Blackburn-Glen Waverley. Minor upgrades for a more clock-face timetable.

Mitcham-Vermont South. Significantly upgrade and run directly between Glen Waverley and Vermont south along the same route the 742 currently runs.

Glen Waverley-Knox. Through-route with 755 via section of the Mountain Highway between the two routes. Further research required into frequency.

Also, a decent Canterbury Rd bus is a must.