Thursday, April 02, 2020

HYPOTHETICAL: The 48 bus routes that will stop running if we get a Saturday timetable on weekdays


Last week I posted about the implications across the transport network if timetables were reduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak. At the time Wellington had gone to a Sunday timetable on weekdays. 

More recently Perth announced a Saturday timetable on weekdays. It's widely speculated that Melbourne will follow suit (note speculated - this post is talking about a hypothetical that might not happen). 

The early indications seem to be that commuter-heavy routes are being hit the most by the patronage downturn. Especially those that serve areas with a lot of white collar employment where many have the option to work from home. A lot of these people, especially if they work in the CBD, are no longer riding trains and trams. However there's still jobs that haven't been shut down and require attendance. Especially in essential services eg health, cleaning and food. 

A big risk of going to a Saturday (or even worse a Sunday) timetable is that because most bus routes have much lower weekend service levels than weekdays a weekend timetable would cut bus services disproportionately with some routes not even running. Even most premium SmartBuses would go from 15 to 30 minute frequencies while off-peak trains would remain largely untouched (some even retaining ten minute frequencies). 

It may be that the virus cuts train patronage by a higher percentage than bus usage yet the buses get the biggest service cuts. Not because they should but due to the unwillingness to tackle bus network and service reform pre-virus. 

The consequences for buses if we do get a Saturday (or Sunday) timetable are summarised below: 



I should repeat that this is hypothetical - an announcement hasn't been made yet. 

What should run if we do get a Saturday timetable on weekdays? 

Last week I mentioned that it would be fine to not run some weekday-only routes as they were largely commuter-based and people would still have alternatives with other routes. However other areas would be left without service. It is these that are most of concern if we do decide to move to a Saturday timetable.  

Here's a list of weekday-only routes. None would operate if we had just a Saturday timetable. I take a first-cut look at whether I think they should or should not run even if the rest of the network goes to a Saturday timetable. The actual decision should probably depend on more detailed catchment area data and patronage noted in the last week or so. 

201: No. Uni shuttle overlapped by other routes
237: Yes? Industrial area route in Fishermans Bend with some unique coverage
301: No. Uni shuttle overlapped by other routes
303: No. Peak only route with other services nearby
309: No? Most of area has alternative routes 
318: No. Peak only route with other services nearby
343: No. Duplicates train
350: No. Little unique coverage. Alternatives available. 
389: Yes? Residential area loop route though service available in opposite direction with 388
401: Yes. Shuttle to hospitals with no parallel routes. 
403: No. Poorly used route with 402 providing an alternative.
417: Yes. Industrial area route with unique coverage.
482: Yes. Industrial area route with unique coverage.
511: Yes. Although a peak commuter route it is the only transport to/from the estate.
531: Yes. Serves residential area with low income catchment.
546: Yes. Some residential area catchment although it runs to a university.
551: Yes. Some residential area catchment although it runs to a university. 
601: No. Uni shuttle overlapped by other routes
609: No? Likely limited catchment and low patronage
673: No. Duplicated by other routes
675: Yes. Residential area catchment
680: Yes. Residential area catchment
686: Yes. Residential area catchment
687: No. Very low patronage
696: No. Very low patronage
704: Yes. Residential area patronage
705: Yes. Industrial route with unique coverage
706: Yes. Some unique residential area coverage but low usage (shopper type route)
740: Yes? Runs commuter hours but some unique catchment
745: No? Very limited timetable and unlikely to be useful
757: Yes. Unique residential area coverage
758: Yes. Unique residential area coverage
768: No. Uni shuttle overlapped by other routes
774: Yes. Residential area coverage (note interaction with other routes in area)
777: Yes. Some unique residential area coverage but low usage (shopper type route)
778: Yes. Industrial area route
783: Yes. Residential area coverage (note interaction with 782 timetable) 
795: Yes? Unique coverage but outlying area.
802: Yes. Serves residential area with high social needs
821: Yes. Mainly industrial area route. Serves hospital. 
823: Yes. Residential area coverage. 
838: Yes? Semi-rural route. 
842: Yes. Off-peak shopper route. 
886: No? TAFE route
887: No? University route but serves transport-starved area
Telebus 7: Yes? Retains service in poorly served area.
Telebus 8: Yes? Retains service in poorly served area.
Telebus 9: Yes? Retains service in poorly served area. 

Many routes above are marginal in terms of patronage. You can legitimately argue against not running some where patronage potential is limited. Providing adequate operating hours on busier routes, as discussed next, is almost certainly higher priority than running all or even half the routes in the above list. 

Which routes need better Saturday operating hours to be useful on weekdays? 

As well as some not running there are other bus routes that would have limited operating hours if a Saturday timetable ran on weekdays. This might be because: 

1. They lack significant Saturday afternoon service. Mostly in lower income areas eg routes 538, 558, 559, 697, 698, 800, 814, 815, 844, 857. Some are quite well used and even key highway routes. These definitely deserve better span (similar to weekdays) and for routes like 800 the maintenance of morning frequencies into the afternoon (rather than a drop to 2 hourly). 

2. They are in or near industrial areas where it was not envisaged that the Saturday timetable would ever operate on non-public holiday weekdays (eg 235 in Fishermans Bend, 400 and 414 in Laverton North, 415 in Altona, 857 in Dandenong South). The problem here is that industrial area type jobs have early starts which a Saturday timetable's 8am start might not cater for. These areas are unlikely to have many jobs where people can work from home and they may be in essential services like  food and distribution. 

3. They missed out on minimum standards upgrades, so while some have good weekday operating hours they may still finish around 6 pm on Saturdays. That would affect the pm peak and shift workers. A large concentration is in the Whitehorse/Manningham/Maroondah area (eg 270, 271, 273, 281, 284, 285, 293, 304, 370). Also Endeavour Hills (843, 845, 849, 861) and outer east areas like Knox and Lilydale.  

4. They received minimum standards, but because these specify an 8am start, have a Saturday timetable that starts too late for most commuters (if unmodified Saturday timetables were in force). Parts of the north and west get off lightly as they kept their ~6 or 7am Saturday starts when they got minimum standards. However some routes in the east (particularly former Moorabbin Transit/Grenda routes) have very late Saturday starts even under minimum standards (eg 824 & 825). These would be unsuitable for many commuters. Even SmartBuses start an hour or so later on Saturdays than weekdays. All up late starts could be a problem on 100 if not 200 bus routes. Two to six extra trips on most routes to extend am span would help to preserve weekday operating hours (though not frequency) on our buses.  

Conclusion

An across-the-board introduction of Saturday timetables across all public transport modes is simple, easy to communicate but leaves people, including essential workers, in some areas without service when they need to travel. The above has summarised routes and areas where this is most likely to be an issue. If you wanted to preserve access to jobs and (for some residential areas) access to basic services eg food and medical you'd consider running some routes with a better timetable than the no or limited services that a normal Saturday schedule would entail. 



Wednesday, April 01, 2020

[Scoop] Melbourne's getting a transport museum!


Not that it's open at the moment but London has a fantastic transport museum. So does tiny Hobart. But Melbourne, despite trams being a large part of its urban identity, does not. Or at least one that has buses trains and trams in the one convenient near-CBD place. 

Hopes were raised when 'self-confessed train buff' and Liberal leader Matthew Guy backed a land transport museum at Newport. However his party lost the election and the concept lost traction. 

However, like 1 am Chapel Street pizza in a drunk's stomach, you can't keep a good idea down. 

The museum has just got a powerful new champion. In the most unlikely of places. The premier's office. Like everything else lately, from unemployment, shut schools to empty trains, you can attribute this to the Corona Virus. First some background. It's important. But you can scroll one-third down if you don't wish to waste a single minute learning about Melbourne's newest and most exciting museum plan.

Like wartime

Right now feels a bit like depression plus war. We have the internet now but unlike today's 'social distancing'  entertainment and sport kept going to maintain morale at home and on the frontline. And there was a concerted national effort to lift spirits. This was to keep the population committed to victory and lessen the effect of enemy propaganda. No one wanted to relive the privations of the Great Depression. Hence expectations of better times ahead were raised by overtly planning for the postwar  era. Not just for prosperity but also reconstruction.

The word, from Sir Robert Menzies down, was that prewar conservatism would not do. That was Labor's line too but the new Liberal Party made it bipartisan. Governments promised and gave benefits to returned servicemen. For example small farms under soldier settlement schemes (with mixed success), housing and university education. These schemes were conceived during the war, probably to give soldiers something personal to fight for in the quest for an Allied victory. This set the scene for the modern welfare state that extended benefits to groups beyond the old, the widowed and the returned. Largely funded by the transfer of income tax from the states to the federal government.

Factories got converted from making consumer goods to armaments. We're seeing similar re-purposing now. Hotels, devoid of regular guests, are now isolating the flown-in. Jeff's Shed is becoming an emergency hospital. Work has also changed. With so many industries shut down yet increased demand for welfare services, health care and support for those in isolation, the labour market is undergoing an upheaval something like a wartime mobilisation funded by government.

When the threat passes there will be similar disruption and demobilisation as we rebuild civilian business and social life. Tourism might rebound but given existing worrying trends for retail it is possible that it will not return to pre-virus employment levels. Depression and mass unemployment threaten with the federal government seeking to avert this through a $130 billion wage subsidy program announced on Monday.

The premier's office knows this. It's not widely known that it is establishing an elite planning unit to deal with post-pandemic reconstruction. The changes involved will rank with postwar demobilisation and absorption of refugees, the entry of women into paid work and deindustrialisation in their speed and magnitude.

Whatever is done needs to work. Except for those in essential industries, today's true patriots grow their hair long, buy only what they need and bum around the house. New (or revived) social expectations as regards employment and the role of government cannot be quickly unlearned. Instead they need to be deftly managed to maintain civil order and even the legitimacy of private property and capitalist production. 2019's political fracas over franking credits now looks puny compared to the tax hikes that will be required to balance the books when the good times return.

Premier's Post-Pandemic Reconstruction Unit

Unlike John Curtin's Department of Post-War Reconstruction this is not a conventional office. Rather, in the spirit of the times, the premier's Post Pandemic Reconstruction Unit (PPRU) is a network of creative people and influencers working from home in their pyjamas. Which is to the good because those hired, though individually brilliant, wouldn't necessarily make a harmonious team. 

We've got to accept that as these times call for the best minds and we'd be hobbled without them. A bit like the 'brains trusts' pieced together before and during WWII. Such was the war's success that it led to a thirty year long expansion of and faith in central planning and government.

That broke down around the Me generation era. Oil prices went sky high, exceeded only by unemployment. Governments, though bigger, seemed less effective. Then we got forty years of market liberalism, freer people movement and casualised work. The size of government didn't go down much but those near the top got more tax breaks.

Things hummed along and reported unemployment was less than at any time since the 1970s. It was a long time between recessions with many too young to remember the last. The GFC saw government interventions like corporate bail-outs, guaranteeing bank savings and handouts to get people to spend. But the latter were one-offs and normal business resumed with markets reaching new highs post GFC.

Politicians with left-wing redistributive economic agendas bombed at the 2019 polls in both the UK and Australia. Socialist Bernie Sanders is lagging in the US Democratic Party primaries after initial excitement. Crises though can trump ideologies. For instance right now where 2019's nominally conservative pro-market victors are looking more like last century's socialists. Michael Bachelard from The Age gets all this. Prepare for Dan Andrews or even Scott Morrison to poach him as a senior strategist.  

The PPRU has a tough job ahead to restore confidence and get Victoria working and partying again. 

During the virus Melbourne's Saturday nightlife diminished to be less than Perth's on a weeknight. Which, as anyone whose been west knows, is negligible. Even less than Adelaide's. 

Pubs closed, shops retreated to 1960s trading hours, most entertainments were cancelled and organised sport was suspended. Just like a country town without even footy on Saturday arvo or church on Sunday morning. Dole queues, due to social distancing, are longer than during the 1930s Great Depression.


As during the war interstate travel was restricted and non-essential movement discouraged. Activities such as much retail, entertainment, arts and some personal services basically vanished along with thousands of jobs that depend on them. Some things still happened but we became a shut-in society, with only the reckless and the  homeless (some of whom had work until recently) on the streets. 

We may get months of indoor living. More than double what even a Melbourne winter normally gives. Home-based hobbies are booming. Online gambling and selling generally might do well. However many will have neither the money nor confidence to spend up big.

Much of the largely middle-class 'work' from home crowd has given themselves holidays or light duties, possibly reflecting how trivial many of their jobs really are. They've become ascetic hippies for whom careers and consuming have ceased to matter.  Construction is still working though with the CFMMEU's John Setka even wanting more hours. Ditto for the take-away and delivery-based precariat, possibly breaching social distancing, with only the quieter roads providing relief, especially for those on piece rates.

It is possible that the 'WFH crowd' may look back on life during the virus era with affection, with it changing their outlook and behaviour for a few years afterwards. If this continues the business cases for expensive CBD-based road and rail infrastructure projects may look shakier, with not even fudges like 'wider economic benefits' enough to make them stack up.

The long-term record seems to show that (at least in traditional male dominated industries like construction) people prefer more work and more pay preferably with slabs of double-time overtime dollars. In other areas (eg the public sector) workers may favour merely decent pay but with an increasing array of reasons (some fair, some self-indulgent) for leave to be taken. These seem to have replaced earlier union campaigns for 35 hour weeks waged over many decades. Both tendencies amongst sections of the middle-paid widened their inequality relative to much of the self-employed and 'coolie-class' who get few if any of these benefits.
Return to gaiety essential

Unless we want a low-work economy something like proposed by 1970s 'death of work' automation futurists or European-style post-materialist Greens, we'll have to return to our previous consumption and gregariousness after this plague passes for the good of peoples livelihoods. Just like war it's a battle for honour, in this case Melbourne remaining Australia's events capital post-pandemic. It is on ideas to restore this that the PPRU is working hard through a new agency called Post-Pandemic Reconstruction Victoria.

PPRV tasks will include getting people out and together. This will give chefs diners to feed, tutors students to teach, performers an audience to amuse and tram drivers passengers to carry. 

A federally-funded Pensioners Auxiliary Corps will pay retired folk to welcome tourists, tell visitors about places to go, keep the streets clean, advise uneven pavements and report car intrusions on Swanston St. They will also sell myki cards as the pandemic made the Free Tram Zone untenable due to the crowding it induced on trams.  The $100 per day pay (tax-free and on top of any pension) that Pensioners Auxilary members get will stimulate spending and fill the RSLs again.   

Enforced winter 'stay home' rules for artists, poets and playwrights will make this summer the most creative in years, with new work exhibitions, readings and performances each night of the week. The post-pandemic reconstruction unit will subsidise ticket prices and venue charges to make shows happen and rebuild lost audiences. 

Transport is well and good but people need places to see and reasons to travel. New attractions are needed to overcome the 'staying in' habit, which will be particularly entrenched this winter on doctors orders. The PPRV is already up to its neck in proposals to get people out in late spring and summer.


MMFTI

The most advanced proposal is a transport museum for Melbourne. Fast-tracked planning means it can open as soon as the pandemic has eased. PPRV has advised me that, unlike most museums, getting a collection is the least of their worries. In fact it's already been assembled. Items are stacked in an unmarked warehouse at Campbellfield not far from where there was once a station

This will be a museum like no other. You won't find any dusty rusty buses here. Instead its displays are laced with hipster-inspired irony up to and including its name: Metropolitan Museum of Failed Transport Initiatives (MMFTI or, colloquially, The Met Museum). The concept is modelled on Sweden's Museum of Failure. Transport projects that failed, only briefly existed, or were proposed but never happened will occupy the main display. 

MMFTI is proud to be on a restored Central Pier, Docklands. Its condemnation last year was simply 'fake news' to quickly clear the site of existing tenants to make way for The Met. It's a fitting location given the unkind remarks sometimes made about Docklands' success or otherwise. Previous commercial usage hasn't exactly thrived. However it is hoped that the museum will be the magnet Docklands so desperately needs.

'Close to transport' isn't just a real estate cliche. D-class trams (picked for their spacious seating and amazing window ledges) will stop at the door and there'll be ample parking for O-bikes. A far cry from Docklands' inaccessible Waterfront City, which was only ever good as a set for films about pandemics and nuclear wars. MMFTI's also wins with its entry ticketing, using the time-tested 'scratch card' system. 

Sneak preview

Last month I visited Campbellfield to get a preview of what to expect. Normally I wouldn't be able to write about this. However this condition has been waived for today only. PPRV is grateful for any publicity the project gets; it's all about getting people to look forward to going out again. Anyway these photos will give a flavour of what you'll see when you visit. 

1. Bikes in trees (Dockless in Docklands)

The exhibits will start before you enter. The first will be an O-bike up a tree. If a suitable tree could be persuaded to take to Dockland's barren soils this is what the display will look like. O-bikes were dockless share bikes dumped on the streets of Melbourne a few years back. Unfortunately many ended up in trees, the Yarra or blocking footpaths instead. With it and similar schemes going bust it's hard to think of a more appropriate inclusion.  


At least two more trees will be planted. One of these will be for the blue bikes, an earlier dock-based scheme that had a small catchment and even lower use. A smaller sapling is being reserved for the new red bikes in case these join the museum. Another O-bike inside will form a rideable display so visitors can see how hard these gearless clunkers are to pedal with various simulated road conditions and gradients. 

2. Regional Victorian bus shelter 

It will take some effort to get it into the museum building but this piece of public transport infrastructure justifies inclusion on two grounds. The first is that, according to the local paper, this South Gippsland shelter does not. Apparently it offers little protection against Wonthaggi's wind and rain. The museum version will be under a shower rose near a big fan so visitors can judge for themselves. 


Secondly it symbolises shelters erected by now-convicted shonks who defrauded the Victorian taxpayer from the inside by awarding contracts to their own company. They were Barry Wells and Albert Ooi who are now in clink. Read about Operation Fitzroy that detected their fraud here and here. MMFTI will team up with business schools to offer role-playing games based on the case to teach fraud prevention and detection.

3. The 4D double decker train

Sydney has double decker suburban trains. Melbourne, and most other cities, do not.

It's debatable whether double decker trains increase network capacity or not. Intuitively they should. However if they only have a couple of doors per carriage then they need to sit at platforms for longer to disgorge all their passengers. Such extended dwell times reduce a line's ability to run closely spaced trains. That offsets the higher passengers moved per hour capacity we thought we were getting with the bigger trains. Improving signalling might be a better investment.

Double deck trains work best for inner-regional commuter type services where you want passengers to have a seat but don't need the very high frequencies that an urban metro might have. They'd share tracks with regional freight trains but not with frequently stopping metro services that need to be closely and regularly spaced.

Based on Sydney's Tangaras, the 4D (Double Deck Development and Demonstration) was a one-off trial train built for the Public Transport Corporation. It was likely conceived during the brief period of optimism in the late 1980s (around when the Met Plan came out) after train patronage had recovered from its 1981 nadir.

Unfortunately by the time 4D was commissioned in 1992 patronage had again slumped due to the state's major recession and poor service reliability. Big patronage rises were not to return until more than 10 years later by which time the 4D had been scrapped.

Apart from the cost of the train itself, another major expense were works done on the Belgrave and Lilydale lines to accommodate its unusual dimensions. These were to prove redundant.




The Met Museum can't bring you the original 4D since it was (literally) scrapped. However it will house a replica built by students attending one of the premier's free TAFE courses. Higher train capacity was again thought a necessity a few years ago with new HCMT trains being built. However this time they'll be longer (7 carriages) and not higher. This is the mock-up on public display a few years back. The HCMT project is running behind schedule but the current virus-induced patronage slump should buy some time as to when they'll be really needed.

4. Maps showing half the network

No transport museum is complete without some old station signs or maps. Especially, if for this museum, they are useless duds. An example is these maps from Hillside Trains from the early days of rail franchising c2000 when the network was split into two privately-run fiefdoms.


Not even all stations that Hillside trains serve at were shown on all maps, such as this example which omitted Parliament, Melbourne Central and Flagstaff (that 'rival' Bayside Trains managed).


The geniuses at the time thought that corporate vanity was more important than passenger convenience so they opted to show only half the network. 'Their' half. Even though passengers travel network-wide, and with only a few exceptions cannot practically choose their train operator. 

With folly like that it's not surprising that this incarnation of rail franchising failed soon after. Read why here. Examples of signs and merchandise from The Met, PTC, Hillside, Bayside, Connex, Swanston, M>Train, M>Tram, National Bus, MBL, Metlink and Transport for Victoria eras will be displayed throughout the museum to illustrate the frequent expensive rebrandings (for no return) the system underwent, particularly during the early 2000s.   

Although Hillside's map makes it into the museum, its website does not. Despite the name being long-gone, Hillside's website is still part of the present since someone is keeping it online, more than 15 years after they became Connex (and now Metro). Click here for 2000-era web design at its finest (and it was actually pretty good, having toned down the late 1990s text effects and cheesy fonts). 

5. Disposable Myki

Technology will be a major part of the Metropolitan Museum of Failed Transport Initiatives. Not least because IT (or more precisely Victoria's chronic mismanagement of IT) has been a major source of failures in transport. MMFTI will have a whole wing devoted to failed ticketing schemes. It needs to as there's been so many over decades.


Unknown or forgotten by most were the short-lived short-term disposable Myki tickets. These briefly littered the streets of Geelong and possibly other regional cities during Myki's trial period.

Made of stiff card they were a full smartcard that cost a bomb to produce. So much so that their per ticket production cost wasn't much less than some fares it was issued for. They should have stuck with cheap paper tickets for short term travel, at least on buses. But they didn't, leading to the disposable myki debacle.

Disposable Myki never made it to Melbourne. Instead it was jettisoned to stop the listing Myki ship from sinking before it could make a final dash to port. Other cast-offs include Myki's extension to outer area V/Line services and ticket vending machines on trams.

A planned school holiday activity will be a game with special foil tickets that you need to scratch before the inspector comes (or do you?). Whoever gets away with the most free trips wins. 'Scratchies' seem incomprehensible to the mobile myki generation but it's part of the historical educational role museums like this play.

Also coming to the ticketing wing will be the actual machine that refused to accept the minister's money with the news footage playing on high rotation. An old Metcard ticket vending machine, good at taking money but giving nothing in return, in the foyer will let visitors donate to the museum's preservation projects.



6. Murray Basin Rail Project 

What's that pile of century-old track and rotting sleepers in the corner? It's a fragment taken from near Ararat. The Murray Basin Rail Project ran way over budget and over time because (amongst other things) they didn't realise how degraded the infrastructure was. Read this recent Auditor General report for the details. To further remind visitors MMFTI will have a toy library and replica washaway sandpit. Children will play in this with Tonka trucks while parents have railway coffee and stale fruitcake in the decommissioned Colonial Tramcar Restaurant.


7. Mernda busway

Governments can oscillate on whether they want to build railways or not. For example there was a political promise to extend Epping trains to South Morang after a community campaign. That got canned with a rail connector bus instituted instead. After the mid-2000s rail patronage surge the extension was back on the agenda with the extended line opening in 2012.

Community campaigners advocated a further extension to Mernda given the substantial housing development taking place. The Brumby Labor government, which was facing an election, promised a busway not a railway. It lost.

The Baillieu Coalition government scrapped the busway proposal which the locals never warmed to anyway. However it had no other immediate plans for the area. For example 2012's PTV Rail Network Development Plan gave 2032 as the year for Mernda rail, after numerous other projects had been done first.

With Labor now in opposition, they, under leader Daniel Andrews, promised rail to Mernda. He won in 2014 and commenced construction. Mernda's train service opened in 2018, leapfrogging over other proposed but as yet unbuilt projects. A chronology of most of the above is here.

There doesn't seem to be much remaining online about the short-lived busway proposal but a little is here. However it was not a failure; it was merely a 'never was'. And, perhaps unusually, it got replaced not by nothing but what locals wanted all along. 

Using bus seats and head-wrapped video screens MMFTI will feature an interactive virtual ride to let people experience the busway they never had. 

8. The backs of bus timetables at stops

It's pretty obscure but it affects passengers at tens of thousands of stops. When Metlink started putting timetables at stops most (space permitting) had a local area network map on the back. Then several years ago they stopped doing it. Removing maps has made the bus network a complete mystery, rather than merely a partial mystery. The museum has a display of old and new stop timetable styles. A museum bus catching activity for children will challenge them to navigate with and without maps.  



9. Altona North Park and Ride

Spending a penny at The Met Museum will be a unique experience. This is because the museum's toilets are a replica of the driver ablution block and shelter at Altona North Park and Ride in Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne's Williamstown electorate. While railway station car parks (and the bus one at Doncaster) overflow with commuters' cars, the same cannot be said for the Altona North Park & Ride. This gets three or four cars on a good day.

Hemmed in by fences, roads and a stationless railway it's an unattractive wasteland with no passive surveillance. One wouldn't wish to leave a car there for 9 or 10 hours. And it's near few homes.

The one bus that serves it runs to Melbourne CBD via an unreliable traffic-delayed route involving the West Gate Bridge. That was well used in the '90s but traffic congestion and local degentrification cost it patronage. Nearby shops have closed and the only reason Park & Ride remains is likely compensation for the now closed Paisley Station on the other side of Millers Rd.


As to what should happen, I don't think too many would miss it if the facility closed tomorrow. However ideally this should happen with a revised bus network without dead-end termini. And with most Werribee trains now on the direct main line (instead of via Altona), rebuilding and reopening Paisley Station wouldn't be a bad idea, especially if the weekday pattern also operated on weekends to provide a full service. 

10. Contract supervision failures and empty buses

Yes, there will be a bus at this museum after all. Its plastic front (with registration) will be sitting in the luggage area behind the driver. This 'front fell off' installation artistically represents an actual incident caused by the combination of a corner-cutting bus operator and indifferent contract supervision from a few years back (it might have improved now).  

In what's expected to generate queues of families, kids will be able to board the bus but only in very limited numbers. Just six will be permitted per museum operating hour. This reflects the low usage of routes such as the 280/282 Manningham Mover that does big loops without carrying many while partly duplicating other routes.  The vehicle will be a pensioned-off Optare, a vehicle known to be quite particular as regards to maintenance. 



Comments sought

That's a wrap up of things to look forward to when the Metropolitan Museum of Failed Transport Initiatives opens. Are you excited? I know I am! I might even apply to work there. It's great that it will have some high-profile backing with Bryan Dawe, of Front fell off fame, booked to officially open it.

The Met Museum is sure to be a major contributor to pandemic reconstruction efforts to get people out and about. It will rank with Fed Square, NGV, Southbank and Cooks Cottage as a stop on every visitor's itinerary. And it will more than repay its modest running cost. This is because it will prevent future errors by retelling otherwise forgotten fables of failure. Imagine if in forty years a proposal to split and franchise the rail network was before state cabinet. Chances are it would be rejected, and billions saved, if most of 2060's cabinet can recall a childhood visit to MMFTI.

I know people in the premier's office, including the Post Pandemic Reconstruction Unit, read this blog. If there's anything you'd like in the museum now's the time to comment below and it might be possible to acquire them at firesale prices. Just get your ideas in by noon today April 1, 2020 as they're working under tight deadlines to make it all happen.


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 

Breaking Point: The Future of Australian Cities Peter Seamer

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

(Sales links: I get a small commission if you buy via the above - no extra cost to you)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Timetable Tuesday #68: Stymied by SmartBus - the good but duplicative Route 293

Cross-suburban public transport connections across the Yarra are normally fairly limited. Unlike in most other places though service increases the further from the CBD you get. For example Chandler Hwy has just a few trips on the 609, Burke Rd has the 6 day per week half-hourly 548 and Manningham Rd across to Heidelberg has the 903 SmartBus. 


What really takes the cake though is the service along Fitzsimons Lane from Doncaster to Greensborough. That has two SmartBuses (901 and 902) plus Route 293. All up ten buses per hour during the day on a weekday but at irregular spacing. To the north-west Main Rd, Lower Plenty is similar with three overlapping routes including the 293, 513 and 901. Useful Network 23 discusses this in more detail.  



Today though I want to concentrate on the 293. While less frequent than the SmartBus routes it has some use.  As shown below it takes close to the most direct route possible between Greensborough and Doncaster Shoppingtown. Then it continues to Box Hill past the hospitals. The latter should not be underestimated since the hospitals are slightly beyond walking distance of the station for some people and the route (along with 281) provides their nearest connection to Doncaster. 


The map below has the network surrounding Route 293. Only a small part around Montmorency is uncovered by anything else. The rest of it overlaps either the 901 or 902 SmartBus. Ten years ago, before the SmartBus orbitals started, it was the only route in these parts. Its survival is unlike what happened in other areas, where the local routes 291 and 700 got incorporated into the 903 orbital SmartBus. It's no accident then that of the orbital smartbuses the 903 carries the most passengers per hour, partly due to the effort to avoid duplication with other routes (at least east of Northland; west of there 903's overlaps with other routes are substantial). 


Normally the SmartBus is the most direct route in an area, also serving the biggest destinations. That’s not so here with the 293 taking that crown. For example the 901 SmartBus serves the medium sized destination of Greensborough then goes directly to The Pines and Blackburn (all medium sized destinations). The 902 SmartBus connects Greensborough with the large destination of Doncaster but indirectly via Eltham. Whereas the 293 directly connects Greensborough with Doncaster and the even larger destination of Box Hill. 

Successful bus networks run their best routes the most direct way between the biggest destinations. However this is not what happens here with service levels out of kilter with directness and destination importance.   

Patronage 

Route 293 gets average to above average patronage relative to the service run. 

On weekdays it attracts 23 boardings per bus service hour which is very close to average for a metropolitan bus. 23 is also notable for it being about the speed (in km/h) of an average Melbourne suburban bus route. Expressed another way that’s roughly 1 boarding per bus service kilometre though as the 293 mainly sticks to main roads it might run a little faster. 

Patronage productivity peaks on Saturday with 28 passengers per bus hour. Sunday is a little lower at 25 boardings per hour. The shopping centres at Box Hill and Doncaster no doubt contribute to this. 293’s stronger alignment (versus the weak SmartBus alignments) possibly explains its relatively good patronage.

Why does 293 perform well despite all the overlaps, mostly with routes more frequent than it? There must be something good about its alignment. Any future bus network reform should respect and if possible build on this.  

Timetable

Route 293 is an ex-Met route that was run by the National Bus Company before being included in the parcel of routes that went to Transdev. Like most routes with similar histories it never got minimum service standards that over 100 other routes received between 2006 and 2010. 

You can see this in the timetable. Operation hours are relatively long on weekdays except for the late first arrival at Box Hill (7:24 am) but are short on weekends. For example Saturday services finish around 6 or 7pm and Sunday around 6pm. 

Weekday peak period frequency is 20 to 30 minutes with a more constant 20 minute service to and from Greensborough. Interpeak service is 30 minutes. Weeknight and Saturday service is hourly. Because it missed minimum standards upgrades Route 293 is one of the few remaining Melbourne bus routes that only comes every 120 minutes on Sundays. 





Relationship with other routes

Many ex-Met routes had a partly overlapping companion route that provided doubled frequency over a busier section. Long-standing examples include 250 and 251. A more recently created example was 302 and 304 (simplified from 201, 202 and 302). The 216 / 219 pair in Footscray was only recently consolidated into one.

Where possible related routes should have consecutive route numbers for good legibility and easy finding of timetables on websites. This didn’t happen with Route 293 whose partner is Route 281 between Doncaster and Box Hill (including the hospitals). Combined frequencies in this section are 15 minutes weekdays and 30 minutes Saturdays. Route 281 has no evening and Sunday service, leaving just the 293 operating during these times. This makes the 281/293 corridor the only pair that drops so dramatically in frequency during the week – from every 15 minutes on weekdays to 30 minutes on Sunday and 120 minutes on Sunday. The lack of minimum standards operating hours is also rare for a corridor with a 15 min interpeak frequency (though 302/304 also share this problem).

History (and the orbitals' opportunity costs)

The route number 293 was associated with a service in the Box Hill/Doncaster area in the 1960s through to the early 1990s. It then fell out of use for a couple of years. However the 1994 National Bus network revived the 293 in its current form. You can see 1990s timetables and route maps on Krustylink. Its frequency was higher then than now, particularly on weekends. For example in 1994 the 293 ran every 40 min on Saturdays and 80 min on Sundays. However by 1997 Sunday service had been cut to 120 minutes where it remains today. Some time later the Saturday service went down to 60 minutes.

The 1994 timetable contained a map showing a particularly legible network between Box Hill, Doncaster and stations on the Hurstbridge line. You can see it below.


The 291 got replaced by the 903 SmartBus orbital. This ran more frequently (15 minutes on weekdays). The trade-off was that it no longer harmonised with trains at Heidelberg but it did harmonise with numerous services at Box Hill and Doncaster. And operating hours were better.

In contrast the 293 remained with the 901 and 902 orbitals running over the top. In this instance the orbitals made the network more complex, with more frequent service going the less direct way between the biggest trip generators. If we were more economical with the orbitals in the area we could have had a network simple like 1994's but with two or three times the service.

For example, as an alternative history, if we only had the orbitals from the Ringwood line south and reallocated the buses otherwise used on the orbitals north of the Ringwood line we might have had 291 and 293 SmartBuses each running every 10 minutes on weekdays and 20 minutes on weekends.

Elgar Rd/Box Hill Hospital and Tram Rd/Station St would have each got this service level, which would be 150% today's level on weekdays and 300 to 600% on weekends. A combined weekday frequency of 5 min weekdays (10 min weekends) would also run between Shoppingtown and Box Hill. Upgrading interpeak trains to every 10 minutes at Box Hill, Heidelberg and Greensborough would then have given the area a first-class turn-up-and-go network on its main roads with good train connections.

The moral is that while less glamorous than adding new orbitals, upgrading existing routes (if they're direct like the 293) might have delivered a better overall service for the same cost, especially if the routes chosen for the orbitals are duplicative, indirect and have poor catchments (as is true for the north-eastern quadrants for the 901 and to a lesser extent the 902).

If you weren't going to scrap the orbitals a less radical approach is to reroute them and modify local routes to lessen inefficient duplication. You couldn't fund the 10 minute frequencies mentioned above but there would still be some improvements including a simpler network, weekend upgrades and extended operating hours on more corridors.

Transdev wanted to do this in their 2015 greenfields network. You can read why it didn't happen here and see what they proposed below.



Transdev sought to incorporate the 281 and 293 into a more frequent Route 911 which would also replace the 901 orbital across the north. That would fix many duplication issues mentioned before. And it would boost trips to areas that are poorly served eg the hospitals at Box Hill and the High St corridor on the limited hours 281. It's not a bad concept. It is regrettable that rejection of Transdev's plan slowed and then halted large-scale bus network reform in Melbourne due to a department unable to convince the minister of the community benefits it can deliver.

Transdev's plan wasn't perfect. Eg the High St dogleg means it would be less direct between Greensborough and Doncaster than the current 293. And it would have cut some services in the west of Melbourne while retaining orbital coverage to some quiet areas (eg in the north east around Yarrambat) that barely justify a local route let alone a SmartBus. Had we considered network reform by area rather than on a single operator basis we could have delivered  'swings and roundabouts' reforms that better compensated neighbourhoods affected by change while rolling out improvements like 10 minute bus frequencies to more places.

Conclusion

I’ve had my say with what you might do with Route 293 and surrounding routes; you can read it here. Basically 293 has an excellent route alignment but poor service. The SmartBuses have good service but poor route alignment with lots of duplication and frequencies that miss trains. It's a mess!

A network review could simplify the network, connect the orbitals more directly to stronger destinations and allow new 15 minute services on corridors like High St Templestowe with an upgraded 281 (more here). But what do you think? Please leave your comments below. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Moving the essential: Train, tram and bus timetabling for the COVID-19 emergency


Things are moving fast. A few days ago the line was public transport was an essential service and all services would run.


However patronage and fare revenue were falling. Those who could were urged to work from home. Entertainment venues closed. Restaurants offered take-away or delivery services only. The premier told everyone to stay home. 

Yesterday the RTBU stated that while public transport was an essential service there could be some short-term reductions in service. 


US transit agencies have asked for billion dollar bail-outs while UK has suspended rail franchising. Today's Age is reporting on crisis talks to keep our services going. 


Measures already taken include more frequent cleaning of buses, trains and trams, ticket refunds for those who no longer need to travel, cordoning off seats near the driver, encouraging social (ie physical) distancing, and discouraging the use of cash. 


We've so far avoided service reductions. But Radio 3AW this morning mentioned the possibility of us moving to a Saturday timetable (or modified Saturday timetable).  No official announcement has yet been made. But I wanted to tease out the implications of this or other arrangements if (or when) it happens. 

Objectives for an emergency timetable

Before I do that it's worth stepping back to consider the objectives of such an emergency timetable. A few I can think of include:

* Maintain a service so that those in essential industries can still get to and from work

* Retain mobility for people to access essential services eg food shopping and medical care

* Be operationally possible with an ability to roster, schedule and implement at short notice

* Be easy to explain and understand so that people can plan ahead and are not stranded

* Maintain a reliable service with a reduced transport workforce (some may be ill, in isolation or have caring responsibilities especially if schools shut)

* Save costs given reduced fare revenue and cut over-servicing given the dramatically reduced demand (but noting that social distancing dramatically reduces train/tram/bus vehicle capacities)

* Even if not fully justified by demand maintain a minimum network coverage, span of hours and frequency so that those who need to travel can still do so with only a little more waiting for connections.

* Maintain goodwill towards public transport so that patronage quickly recovers post-virus. 

* Keep transport workers in jobs (so that services can quickly recover once travel demand resumes) and as a form of economic stimulus to retain employment levels in tough times.

Some of these conflict. For example low frequencies are poor for those whose jobs either have fixed start/finish times or variable times workers can't easily influence. Those whose trips involve connections may be doubly inconvenienced. On the other hand excessive frequency (like three to five minute headways on major lines) is overkill. Frequencies in the 10 to 20 minute range might be a fair compromise.  

Needs by mode

Different modes have different needs. Quiet roads might mean that bus and tram timetables could be sped up. Especially for trams it might be possible to run a high frequency with fewer drivers, but only if we moved to headway timetables that did not penalise early running. Many in tram-land either have CBD white-collar jobs where there is a work at home option or are switching to cycling. This might disproportionately reduce peak tram usage. 

The same could be said for peak train usage which again is dominated by CBD workers. Students may also have online study options and not travel. Peak train frequencies on the better served lines are again probably excessive even allowing for wide social distancing. 

Buses have different issues. They provide the only public transport for the majority of Melburnians who are beyond walking distance of trains and trams. However they enable essential travel for those beyond walking distance of the supermarket or the doctors. Their usage will have also fallen but possibly not in percentage terms by as much as for other modes. And, because we've been sluggish with bus service and timetable reform during the 'good' pre-virus years their timetables still contain many quirks that may disproportionately deny service to those who can least afford it unless we are very very careful. More on this later. 

Emergency timetable options

What timetable options are there for weekdays? I've identified four main options and will discuss their pros and cons. 

1. Flat 20 minute option 

This option is based on all train, tram and major bus routes operating every 20 minutes from early morning to evening, with a possible drop to 30 minutes late at night. It harmonises headways across the network and caps waiting times at 20 minutes for connections between major routes. Local bus routes might operate every 40 minutes, potentially connecting with every second train. Operating hours would be the same as for an ordinary weekday. Therefore anyone who can make a trip now would still be able to travel, though waiting times might be longer. 

Compared to regular weekday timetables this option would reduce tram frequencies the most. Train timetables would be very similar to what currently runs on Saturdays except that the lines in the eastern suburbs that run every 10 minutes wouldn't. Some main bus routes (eg those that currently run every 30 minutes off-peak like the popular 733, 737 and 767) might even get an overall increase. SmartBus would get a cut from every 15 to every 20 minutes - milder than other options. Extra trips could be slotted in on routes that serve major hospitals and essential services if demand warrants. 

The word that best describes this option is 'egalitarian'. It delivers a similar basic service to many suburbs including those without trains. However it involves a rescheduling and rerostering of almost the entire network. Communication to passengers might also be difficult, especially for local bus routes. Whatever its merits the chance of implementation at short notice is so close to zero that it need not be discussed further. 

2. Sunday timetable (without early morning Night Network services)

This is what Wellington did a few days ago. Running Sunday timetables on weekdays is a bad option for Melbourne. Here's some reasons why: 

a. More than 50 Melbourne bus routes serving significant residential areas do not run at all on Sunday. The actual number without Sunday service is 102 out of a total of 349 but nearly half are special services eg peak-only, industrial or university shuttles. Many streets would no longer have service, removing the ability for people to make necessary trips. Areas particularly hard hit include Campbellfield, Thomastown/Reservoir, Dandenong/Springvale, Templestowe, Croydon/ Lilydale, Belgrave, Bayswater/Scoresby, Frankston South and more. Service to job areas with no other nearby service, such as Port Melbourne, Laverton North and Dandenong South would not run. And a Sunday timetable wouldn't include shuttles like the 401 between North Melbourne and the hospitals at Parkville. While all these areas get cuts rail corridors like the Frankston line would keep their midday trains every 10 minutes with almost no one on them.   

b. The trains would start too late and be too infrequent. Essential workers, even if they start at 'normal' business times like 8 or 9 am would be unable to get to work. This is because before Night Network our trains started late on Sunday mornings. For example the first train to arrive at somewhere like Frankston would get there after 9am. And even if people could start a bit later, the widespread 40 to 60 minute frequencies until about 10 or 11am is unsatisfactory.  

c. Limited bus operating hours. Even if your bus runs on Sunday, you would not necessarily be able to get it for work trips. This is because 'minimum standards' bus routes are only just starting by the time people need to be at work (ie 8 or 9 am). That particular affects early starters who on weekdays can board buses from around 6am. Finishing times are also an issue. Regular routes, particularly in the Ringwood - Doncaster area often finish around 10pm on weeknights but only 6pm on Sundays. SmartBuses would also lose service, with the implementation of Sunday timetables deleting their 9pm to midnight service. 

d. Lower tram frequencies. Possibly less significant than the above three are reduced tram frequencies. These include reductions to half-hourly in the mornings (when people need to get to work) and evenings on most routes. 


There are certain operational benefits of a Sunday timetable. It's the cheapest of these options to run, at least for train and bus. It's easy to roster for since all operators (except for Moonee Valley Bus Co which doesn't operate on Sundays) have timetables proved to work. Communication is also easier too. However it would severely reduce the network's capabilities for many essential work and other trips that are currently easily possible.  

3. Saturday timetable (without late evening Night Network service) 

This is what was talked about on the radio this morning. It is far better than the Sunday timetable option. There are two big reasons why:

a. Trains, trams and some major bus routes have similar operating hours on Saturday as they do on weekdays. This means that most people would still be able to do trips that the weekday timetable enables (though usually with extra waiting times) if a Saturday timetable was in force. The main difference would be at night on most train lines where the Saturday timetable drops abruptly to every 30 minutes from approximately 7pm. Also on Saturdays most SmartBus routes drop to every 30 minutes as opposed to the 15 minute weekday frequency.

b. Many more bus routes run on Saturdays than they do on Sundays. This allows more people distant from trains to make essential work, shopping and medical trips. Out of Melbourne's 349 bus routes 301 run on Saturdays, leaving 48 that do not. The majority of those that do not are special routes like peak only, university shuttle and industrial area routes. 

Like with Sunday timetables, the Saturday timetable is a proven arrangement known to work with regards to rostering. It is also easy to communicate. For instance all bus and tram stops already have Saturday times posted. Train, tram and bus operators are much better equipped to run a Saturday timetable at short notice than a custom timetable as per Option 1. 

There are still disadvantages with the Saturday timetable in some areas served by buses. It's basically similar issues to Sunday but more localised. These include:

a. Some weekday bus routes (48 out of 349) do not operate on Saturdays. These fall into the following categories:

i. University shuttle routes. In all cases except the 401 (which also serves hospitals) these have less frequent non-express overlapping routes that should suffice. 

ii. Peak only/weekday only express commuter routes. These almost all serve areas that have local bus options. Patronage on these routes is likely dramatically reduced (by a greater proportion than regular bus routes). Not running these (as would happen with a Saturday timetable) should not cause undue hardship. 

iii. Industrial area routes that only run weekdays with no or limited Saturday service. Examples include the 235 in Fishermans Bend, the 417 in Laverton North and the 857 in Dandenong South. These routes would either not run or be rendered unusable (eg noon finish) if a Saturday timetable operated. 

iv. Late starting times for local bus routes. Most Saturday routes start around 7 to 8 am but this may still be too late for those with early starts at jobs that were accessible when buses started at 6am or earlier as they do on weekday. More than 100 bus routes fall into this category. 

v. Residential area routes that have no or limited Saturday service. There are not as many of them as  areas lacking Sunday service. But it's still an issue. 531 in Campbellfield, 680 near Lilydale, 802 in Dandenong North are examples of neighbourhoods that would lose all service if a Saturday timetable ran.  Also significant are routes with Saturday timetables that finish around noon (or at best) early afternoon. Areas affected include Campbellfield (Route 538), Reservoir (Route 558), Thomastown (Route 559), Noble Park (Route 800), Springvale South (Route 814), Doveton (Route 844), Patterson Lakes (Route 857) and more. Many are low income neighbourhoods where buses provide vital links to essential services. Work travel is also made harder if the last bus ran five hours before your shift finished.  

It's not all about underservicing. Some train services may greatly exceed demand in the middle of the day but not be enough for social distancing earlier in the day. For example the Saturday timetable for Ringwood, Dandenong and Frankston feature a 10 min midday service but a 20 minute service during the am peak when more may be travelling. Similar issues may apply with some tram routes. 

There's also some silver linings. Tram 82 actually has a better weekend frequency than weekday frequency interpeak. It might actually get more trips under the virus timetable. The same may also apply for Belgrave/Lilydale trains, where weekend frequency is 20 minutes (10 min to Ringwood) versus 30 minutes (15 min to Ringwood) on the weekday timetable. If we go to a Saturday timetable for Ringwood due to the virus ideally the interpeak portion of it should continue permanently.   

Something else we need to watch is the adequacy of V/Line service, especially from areas like Melton, Caroline Springs, Wyndham Vale and Tarneit. Their weekend services drop greatly in frequency compared to weekday. And it may be that some lower income outer suburbs contain more people in jobs that don't have a work at home option, and/or people cannot afford not to work. So demand may not drop by an even amount on all lines or routes. 

Overall using the Saturday timetable as the basis for an emergency weekday is the best option so far.  It is easy to implement and easy to understand. However it still has substantial problems with buses since Saturday service is not universal and where it does exist operating hours may not suit work starts and finishes. And we may still be overservicing trains and trams in the middle of the day. 


4. Modified Saturday timetable (without late evening Night Network service) 

If we completed minimum standards upgrades and reviewed more area's bus networks we might not need this option as straight Saturday timetables would be more adequate in more areas. But we didn't. So we may need to consider the possibility of a 'modified Saturday' timetable option, especially if virus timetables are likely to persist for weeks and months. 

The good news is that trains or trams would be largely a Saturday timetable. Unless you needed to swap some midday and morning service levels to better meet demand as suggested before. Most bus routes would also have a Saturday timetable. 

But you might wish to keep the Saturday frequency but extend operating hours to match weekdays. For most local routes (that got the minimum standards upgrades) this would mean a couple of extra trips to give an earlier start. Some routes, especially popular weekday routes with a limited (eg 40 - 60 min) Saturday timetable might have extra peak trips slotted in. 

Routes with Saturday morning service only might have services extended both earlier and later to match their weekday span. 

Some routes that don't run Saturday (or have very limited services) might keep their weekday timetables going. Or have a special timetable drawn up. 

Then there are routes that have a more frequent Saturday morning service, dropping down to about half on Saturday afternoons. Like Reservoir's 552. That made sense 40 or 50 years ago but not now. Neither would it make sense as part of a weekday virus timetable. It will be interesting to see what happens to this and other routes that have more gentle frequency drops in their Saturday afternoon timetables. Although there are routes that drop back to as infrequently as every two hours on Saturday afternoon (like the important Route 800 past the premier's electorate office) that you'd keep at least its morning frequency going all day with weekday operating hours applying. 

To summarise, this 'modified Saturday' option is messy. Necessarily so because our Saturday bus timetables are messy. It is time-consuming to roster and explain. So it might not be implemented straight away.  However it is worth considering if the reduced timetables look like they'll be in for some time. And the extra cost could be kept down with some adjustments to train and tram frequencies where warranted.  

Conclusion

They may still cause hardships but Option 3 (Saturday timetable) and when possible Option 4 (modified Saturday timetable) are best and most practical at preserving service for those who need it most.  That includes those whose jobs are in essential industries and those who depend on public transport for essential shopping and medical travel. 

This is a hastily written post and there may be some errors or omissions. But I thought it was important to address this topical issue. If there are other things we should consider please leave them in the comments below. 


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 

Breaking Point: The Future of Australian Cities Peter Seamer

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

(Sales links: I get a small commission if you buy via the above - no extra cost to you)