Friday, September 25, 2020

Building Melbourne's Useful Network Part 63: 8 opportunities for new stops on existing bus routes

Want to increase a network's coverage to serve more people and thus boost possible patronage? 

Ways to do it are as easy as 1 2 3, as below:  

The first approach, ie extending routes, is often necessary but adds operating costs. This is because more buses, or at least service kilometres, will be needed to retain the existing frequency. 

Next we could leave routes as they are but improve access to existing stops. Waiting to cross the road is a significant part of walking time in busy areas and may result in missed buses. If you add zebra crossings, shorten light cycles at signals, build mid-block pedestrian refuges and replace roundabouts with lights you increase the population within five or ten minutes walk of the stop. That improves coverage and thus potential usage. Plus, equally important, there's gains for local walking trips too. 

Thirdly, where stops are far apart on a route, you can add some in between. Like with access improvements intermediate stops are low cost and can improve an existing route's productivity. Major coverage gains are possible where you're plugging kilometre-long gaps. And access to frequent service (and thus the Useful Network) can increase where a new stop goes in just before overlapping routes fan out. 

I could mention road engineers' love for boosting car traffic throughput by designing large turning radii on main roads that push bus stops back from their most convenient locations near intersections. Or the neglect of human scale design that ruins the fine grained walking access needed for coverage within and between suburbs. 

But I won't. 

Instead I'll get straight onto a list of just a few places that need bus stops. These are already built-up areas where buses go past but do not stop. And instead of the desirable 300 to 400 metre stop spacing gaps may be up to 1km or more, making at least one intermediate stop a worthwhile coverage-booster. In other places, where gaps are less, moving an existing stop may be enough to provide adequate coverage or better serve where people need to go. 

My primary source will be the PTV website, whose bus route maps now show stops. Verify, if desired, via the links provided.  

1. Route 782/783 on Frankston - Flinders Rd

The gap is obvious on the map below. There's a built-up section of Frankston - Flinders Rd where it's 1km between stops. The lack of stops prevents access to the 782/783 corridor. This is the area's most direct bus into Frankston via Monash University and the hospitals. Routes either side, in contrast, are confusing and indirect loops that may not operate seven days. Hence at least one pair of bus stops would greatly improve local coverage. The local member is Labor's Paul Edbrooke MP.  

A growth area that already has a bus but is getting more next year. Again the lack of a stop is conspicuous on the map. The area is at the intersection of three state seats, including Cranbourne (Pauline Richards MP), Bass (Jordan Crugnale MP) and Narre Warren South (Gary Maas MP). More detail in this Timetable Tuesday item

3. 811, 813, 902 on Springvale Rd southbound near shops

The gap here is less than the previous two. In fact there's no need to add stops to plug it. The problem is more the poor location of the southbound stop. This spaces it unevenly relative to those either side and means that Springvale Shopping Centre lacks a stop at its nearest point on Springvale Rd. There used to be such a stop but this was removed when the new station was built. However the area's extremely high patronage would make a relocated Ash Gv stop popular and relieve pressure on the crowded station stop. It is near two seats: Keysborough (Martin Pakula MP) and Clarinda (Meng Heang Tak MP). 

4. Route 356 and 357 near Fletcher St, Epping North

This is a classic case where buses are there, housing is there but the stops are not. This is Epping Rd near Fletcher St. New stops would improve coverage and enable the most to be made from two routes that run together before they fan out. Epping Rd forms the border of two seats, including Mill Park (Lily D'Ambrosio MP) and Thomastown (Bronwyn Halfpenny MP). This service gap was discussed in detail back in January. 

5. 543 near Somerton Rd

Greenvale is a major outer suburban growth area. Older parts of Greenvale are low density but have bus coverage from two routes while newer parts are higher density but lack coverage from any. It's understood that new or extended routes are planned in the area but scope exists to add stops to improve coverage from the existing Route 543. Greenvale is in the state seat of Yuroke held by Ros Spence MP. 

6. 525 on Mickleham Rd

The 525 is a fairly new route in Melbourne's outer north. Given existing wide stop spacings on parts of the route there are likely coverage opportunities from added stops in the area. This area is also in the state seat of Yuroke.   

7. 823 no stop near Highett Rd

The 823 isn't much of a bus service, with hourly trips and no weekend service. But it is the highway route to Southland Shopping Centre. And there are gaps between stops near Highett Rd. This gap is near the Moorabbin Justice Centre and densifying housing on a brownfields site. Local member is Brad Rowswell MP (Sandringham). 

8. Princes Hwy near Eastlink on Route 800

Route 800 has a limited timetable but is a busy route serving Chadstone, Oakleigh and Dandenong as well as employment areas near Clayton. However stops along it are uneven. An opportunity may exist for a Heatherton Link Rd stop to improve connections to a poorly served residential part of Dandenong.  Local MP is Gabrielle Williams (Dandenong). 

Too many stops?

I've discussed widely spaced stops and the coverage gaps that can ensue. But stops can also be too close. When that happens stops eat into each other's catchments and can reduce travel speeds. An extreme example is along Forrest St Sunshine West where stops are barely 100 metres apart. Widening their spacing would reduce maintenance costs with little effect on coverage.  


Adding stops on existing bus routes is a highly cost-effective way to improve the coverage of our existing bus network. And we need as much coverage as we can get with recent population growth outpacing network expansions, especially in fringe areas. Conversely there are cost savings in areas where stops are too close. Removing these could speed buses, lower maintenance costs and free poles for stops in growth areas. 

Having the best locations for bus stops is not without difficulty. For example road authorities jealously guard space near intersections and local traders are equally precious about parking. However the improved access and coverage benefits of better located bus stops are overwhelming and should prevail if government is serious about wanting transit to succeed. 

Do you know of other locations where there should be more bus stops on an existing route? Or other places where some are redundant or badly located? If so please leave your comments below. 


Tom said...

7. The brownfields housing developments in that section are/are going to be quite dense for a location away from a station and should definitely have more bus stops there on both the 823 and (south of Highett Rd) the 708.

I note there is a slightly better stop spacing in the other direction, with a stop outside the Moorabbin justice centre.

From memory, the brownfields development opposite Turner Rd is planned to get traffic lights at Turner Rd/the new street through the brownfields development and the will increase the usefulness of the new bus stops to passengers and potentially (if a northbound bus jump is included in the new intersection) allow the 822 to have stops south of Turner St and still turn right into Rowans Rd.

cafandgim said...

Always thought there should be an extra stop on route 903 towards Altona. At the west end of Bell Street there is quite a distance between the last stop and the bridge over the tollway.
People living in those houses only have one way to walk and it is about 600 metres.

Heihachi_73 said...

901 to Melbourne Airport:

The 901 Heatherdale Rd inbound stop should be moved to the traffic island outside Hungry Jack's to match the outbound stop diagonally opposite. The current bus stop isn't anywhere near Heatherdale Rd, let alone providing any useful connection to the station. Compare it with the Mitcham Rd and Springvale Rd intersections, which have easy access to the train station.

Another stop which is a bit annoying is the connection between the 901 and the 906 to the city at the Eastern Freeway. The 901's inbound stop closest to the freeway is at Ventura St (the street name matching a certain bus company is a pure coincidence), which is a fair distance from the 906 stop at the onramp. I'm sure a bus stop could be squeezed in there.

907 to City:

When Mitcham station was redeveloped, the 907 also lost a shared bus stop (which was the 901 outbound stop on Whitehorse Rd), leaving a large gap between Mitcham station and the next 907 stop a few hundred metres along Mitcham Rd. The connection between the 901 Melbourne Airport to the 907 towards Doncaster is all but useless, not helped by the 901 being scheduled about two minutes after the 907 leaves (when they're every 30 minutes at night and all weekend it is a pain).