Friday, February 28, 2020

Useful Network No 39: May's new Endeavour Hills bus network

Late last year I proposed some ideas for a local bus network revamp in Endeavour Hills. Improvement is sorely needed. Local route run to limited hours and, particularly on Sundays, are infrequent with service typically only every two hours.

Several routes overlap one another yet there are no direct services to Dandenong's Hospital or TAFE precinct just a few kilometres down Heatherton Rd. And there are just three trips per weekday to Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. The map below highlights the issues.

My proposed network would have sorted all that with simpler routes that retained service to the vast bulk of existing stops and on nearby streets where routes were moved. And the upgraded services would have been well-used thanks to the favourable catchment; existing routes 843 and 849 get excellent usage on Sundays with over 30 passenger boardings per bus service hour. 

It turned out that the Department of Transport was making its own plans for Endeavour Hills buses. I first got wind that something was afoot when I contacted Luke Donnellan MP's office shortly after that post. They helpfully mentioned that changes were coming. 

News on these came out two weeks ago via Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne and Luke Donnellan (the local MP). This was on their Facebook pages but (unusually) not on the public transport minister's media release website (which provides an easier to find and more enduring record). No doubt better information will follow nearer the start date.

What can we learn from the above? Most notable is the new connection to Dandenong Hospital and Chisholm TAFE. That should mean a bus via a currently unserved part of Heatherton Rd (there's no other way). That will provide much better directness than now, eliminating a change in Dandenong for travel from parts of Endeavour Hills. Fountain Gate is also mentioned but that already has an Endeavour Hills connection via the infrequent 842. Plus there will be better frequency and new coverage of David Collins Dr. 

This Dandenong Journal article elaborates on this some more. Without a map not all details are clear. The map below is my best attempt at reverse engineering the network from the coverage seen. 

The above would be a 'smell of an oily rag' upgrade. Which is not a bad thing given the scope allowed by the large number of routes in the area. The four main routes from Dandenong (843, 845, 849 and 861) get reduced to three. Current service levels on each are every 40, 60 and 120 minutes for weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays respectively. 

A reduction to three routes should allow each route to operate approximately every 30, 45 and 90 minutes on those days assuming no extra funding. A little extra funding might allow every 40 and 60 minutes per route on Saturdays and Sundays respectively, along with improved hours. That would be a substantial improvement given how restrictive current timetables are. And an upgrade is needed to retain frequency on the Kidds Rd corridor in Doveton that goes down from 4 to 2 routes with the deletion of 849 and the rerouting of 861.

The above was written based on information publicly available at the time. Then two days ago Luke Donnellan's office sent me the media release which had more detail than the local paper picked up on. In particular frequencies on the 843, 845 and 861 will improve from 40 to 30 min weekday, 60 to 30 min Saturday and, biggest of all, 120 minute to 40 minute on Sunday. In other words better than speculated above on weekends. As well there will be two more off-peak trips return to and from Fountain Gate on Route 842. This should provide something like an hourly interpeak service rather than the two or three hour gaps as currently exist.

What are the implications of this change on the Useful Network (ie the availability of service every 20 minutes or better) in the area? Provided trips on routes 843 and 845 are evenly spaced the existing Useful Network in the area on Kidds Rd and Power Rd remains. While there is a small frequency drop on weekdays this should be more than compensated for by the improved Sunday service (20 min combined if 843 and 845 are evenly spaced) and (hopefully) extended operating hours. The simpler service (ie two more frequent routes instead of four less frequent routes) is particularly welcome since PTV does not excel at communicating frequencies on multi-route corridors. Also any longer hours will prove a godsend for those whose only other nearby service is the limited hours Route 844

How does this network score for local route coverage in Endeavour Hills? Removing the 849 would leave gaps if other routes aren't altered to compensate. The best clue that this will happen appears in the line below. 

The specifics though are not clear. My guess is that Daniel Solander Dr will be served by an 845 routed off Heatherton Rd (which would keep the 861 at an increased frequency).  And Scottsburn Way's 849 might instead be served by an 843 extended to Endeavour Hills Shopping Centre (removing the confusing mid-route dogleg there and providing a stronger terminus). Both seem sensible.  


Overall the changes proposed make sense especially if accompanied by needed operating hours extensions. These would improve buses in Endeavour Hills from below average to about average for a Melbourne outer suburb. 

Improved routes and extended operating hours will benefit many lives, expanding access to health, education, shopping and job opportunities. The minister would do well to implement similar network reforms in areas that need it including Dallas/Campbellfield, Hadfield, Craigieburn, TarneitSunshine, Frankston South, Karingal, the Mornington Peninsula, CaseyGreater Dandenong. Reservoir/Thomastown, Bayswater and Box Hill

Endeavour Hills itself could do with a second round. Good though it is, the above changes appear to leave 842 to Fountain Gate without weekend service or do anything about the new but poorly used Route 863. And the Useful Network remains sparse, with long waits if buses are just missed. Highest priority for a 'Stage 2' could be building on 861's rerouting to provide a new 'Useful Network' 20 minute frequency route along Heatherton Rd from Dandenong to Fountain Gate via Endeavour Hills along with an 844 operating hours upgrade and southern extension in Doveton. 

1 comment:

Milroy.R.Martyn said...

I must say thank you to those who were responsible for introducing a bus route through David Collins drive i have been campaigining for the past five years for this service and at long last this will eventuate. Thanks due to Luke donellan and PTV for this new service. this service when i begins to run will save an average worker to the tune of several thousands of dollars. prticularly those who work in the city, for example a car trip to the city costs
per day 20$parking 20$ fuel for car 15$ city link toll $55.00per day time 5= 275$ per week and
275x4x12months approximately $12200.00 per person and if there were more in the family? Thanks to PTV for this new service through David Collins Drive.Ihope the bus services will reach Dandenong station which gives us the choice of trains from Cranbourne and Pakenham stations.this new service will provide residents on the feeder lanes and roads branching off david collins drive which probably includes over 450households time 2persons per household not counting children who go to school that is nearly 900 persons i know it will take a while before this bus service becomes popular pensioners and old folk will find this a boon because they will not have to lug their food trolleys up steep hills to get to their homes andthey could catch the bus virtually out side their homes thanks again