|Grey St 12/01/11 8am|
Given that the clean-up operation is still in full swing, BrizCommuter apologises if it is early days to make an assessment on the management of public transport over the disaster period. However, BrizCommuter would like to blog whilst things are still fresh in his head.
Given TransLink's current reputation, it was refreshing to see that TransLink, and the various public transport operators managed to cope reasonably well during the last week. It was good to see that buses continued as normal as possible during the hysteria of Tuesday afternoon. Trains continued to run into Tuesday evening, despite the obvious staffing issues and the requirements to move trains quickly to higher ground away from Mayne. The quick planning of the hourly rail timetable for the rest of week, and making it available by late-Tuesday evening was also appreciated. BrizCommuter was pleasantly surprised to see buses still running along the SE Busway on Wednesday morning, even when water was lapping at the Grey St/Melbourne St intersection at 8am (see photo). The decision to run a streamlined Buz(ish) network on Thursday was sensible, given the lack of staff and bus routing issues. It is very welcome that TransLink and QR have made the effort to open Richlands a week early, especially as the Ipswich Line may not open for a few days due to damage. Faremaggedon II has been delayed until the 22nd January, and public transport will be free until this date. Lets hope that this was an act of kindness, rather than a necessity due to a semi-functioning go card system.
As always with an emergency situation, there were some areas of operations and customer service that needed improvement. Given that the Brisbane River is prone to flooding, lessons need to be learnt for next time. Information was sometimes poor. BrizCommuter had a report of a commuter phoning TransLink on Thursday morning and being told that no buses or trains were running. In fact, a bus service was running past that commuters doorstep. Passengers on suburban stations were not informed of the hourly timetable on Wednesday morning, or delays in starting the service on Thursday morning. If it is possible to make announcements from a central location to suburban stations, then it is important to keep confused commuters informed with regular announcements. BrizCommuter also observed a lack of announcements at Central on Thursday evening when the hourly train services were further delayed. When the Airtrain has been 1 minute away for 20 minutes, please make an announcement. We are dealing with tourists (who significantly contribute to the economy) here!
As the waters rose on Wednesday afternoon, the information available on TransLink's website and in the press became unreliable. It varied between Brisbane buses stopping completely at 1pm, followed by outbound buses only. But which bus routes were running? BrizCommuter gave up, and got a lift home. Also on Thursday, in addition to the delayed start for train services due to lack of power, some operators (mainly outside of Brisbane) ran a Sunday bus timetable. Many key workers (such as hospital staff) who rely on public transport could thus not make it in to work. An emergency timetable should allow passengers to be able to get to work by 7-8am if safe to do so. Sadly, many Sunday bus timetables do not even start services before 9am, if at all.
|North Quay 12/01/11 8am|
To conclude, TransLink, QR, and other SE Queensland public transport operators made a considerable effort this week to keep things moving. However, limited services and information, meant that if you had no alternative but to rely on public transport during the disaster period, then you would have had a serious challenge to get to and from work!