Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Brisbane City Council's "not broken" bus network

Brisbane's bus network review by TransLink (which was largely positive) has been canned, with responsibility moved to Brisbane City Council (BCC) who own bus operator Brisbane Transport.  Lord Mayor Graham Quirk appears to be in denial, stating that Brisbane's bus network "isn’t broken and doesn’t need a radical overhaul like the one proposed by Translink". Here is a list of reasons why Brisbane's bus network is broken, grossly inefficient, confusing to use, and urgently needs a radical overhaul!

CBD Stop Locations

Only in Brisbane can multiple bus routes heading in the same direction stop at different locations in the CBD, and take different routes in and out of the CBD. Some even take different routes at different times of the day. Most confusing!

Routes P129, 130, 131, P133, 136, P137, 138 towards Sunnybank and beyond take 4 different routes through the CBD. Routes 450, 453, 454, P456, P457, P455, P458, P459 towards Centenary Suburbs also take 4 different routes through the CBD. This is obviously annoying to passengers if you miss a bus, and then have to cross the CBD to catch the next bus to your destination. In fact, the CBD bus stop locations are so confusing that casual travellers often have difficulty even finding which stop to catch their bus from.

Brisbane needs consolidated CBD "super stops" for buses travelling in similar directions. Also, bus stop locations (and associated routes and destinations) need to be well signed. 

All routes to the CBD

As per the above two examples, Brisbane operates an (almost) all routes to the CBD bus network. Whilst this avoids passengers having to change buses, it is grossly inefficient, results in empty buses travelling into the CBD, and significantly adds to busway congestion through Cultural Centre. It also results in a confusing number of bus routes serving the same transport corridor with only minor variations. Brisbane has one of the world's highest ratios of bus routes to population. Despite this, many parts of Brisbane such as Centenary Suburbs, Wynnum Road, and North West Suburbs are public transport black holes.

Brisbane needs a trunk and feeder network, where low to medium frequency feeder routes feed very high frequency trunk routes. Arterial road corridors serving residential areas should be served by a high frequency bus routes where possible. All other areas should be served by buses feeding the high frequency routes. Changing buses is a fact of life in efficient public transport systems.

Duplication of other bus and train routes

BCC's bus routes also duplicate each other, as well as train routes. For example, the P88 duplicates the frequent Ipswich train line, and SE Busway services. The Maroon CityGlider duplicates much of the route 385, but bizarrely serves different stops. Even travelling from Chermside the the CBD is served by at least 7 different routes.

An integrated public transport system should not have train and bus services competing with each other, but working together. It would also help if train services were frequent in the first place! Multiple bus routes serving the same corridor should be consolidated into a single very high frequency route. 

Other assorted rubbish

There are other fine examples of other waste. The 314 runs twice a day on weekdays only, and serves low density areas between Deagon and Shorncliffe. Most of this route is within walking distance of multiple train stations. The 338 runs between Chermide and Strathpine, or Brendale, or Eatonvale. In fact there appears to be at least 6 different route 338 variations, most of these serving schools which are within walking distance of the main route anyway.

Bus networks should not be designed to serve every possible journey. Aside from elderly residential developments, and larger primary schools, making some passengers walk a few hundred metres to a bus stop is really not a big issue.

It is very sad to see the sorry state of the SEQ Bus Network Review, especially when Auckland has embraced its well designed bus network review. Incidentally, the Auckland bus network review was designed by a Brisbane based company - you couldn't make it up! Leaving Brisbane City Council to fix to money wasting mess that they created in the first place is laughable. Its like a leaving an alcoholic to reform liquor licensing laws!  It is time to take public transport in SE Queensland out of the hands of local councils. Network planning should return to TransLink (Department of Transport and Main Roads), and Brisbane Transport should be privatised.

More of Brisbane City Council's "not broken" bus network

Brisbane = public transport Hicksville?

Crikey Blog on Brisbane's bus changes:
Human Transit Blog on Auckland's network design:
Human Transit Blog on transit design goals:


  1. In the absence of dedicated school buses, what exactly is wrong with a bus having a route variation on one or two services a day, to service a school ?

  2. "hear hear"

    Sounds like a response worthy of State parliamentary Hansard.

  3. That quote saying that it's ok making some passengers walk a few hundred meters is really not a big issue is disingenuous.

    The bus network review was, while largely positive, was also recommending completely removing public transport options from some areas of some suburbs, leaving some current passengers with a 1km+ walks to get to the recommended alternative.

    1. Similar situation both both fast and frequent routes replaced with an infrequent and less reliable feeder bus,Translink's words not mine. Impractical to say the least,

  4. Anonymous 3 - When BrizCommuter lived in London, at 3 different properties he had a 1km + walk to the nearest tube station. Even as a child, he had to walk a "traumatic" 400m from bus stop to school. BrizCommuter somehow managed to survive having to walk to public transport, and lived to tell the tale. If public transport is frequent enough, people will walk to it!

    1. Already have a 1km walk to current bus stop and spent years walking to train stations in my youth. I lived in London to and it is not Brisbane. Everyone's experiences are valid even when they are not in line with your own. What evidenced based research is there that this will work here Given the review ignored the users of the network to begin with. Change is required but balance is needed.

  5. Strongly agree with the main points made except the last one.Brisbane Tranport should not be privatised.As a regular user of public transport across a wide range of suburbs in the BCC area and also areas such as Rothwell and parts of Logan City,I am well aware of the very poor services in the suburbs outside of Brisbane after 7PM on weeknights and for most of the weekend.These are all private bus companies who are not accountable to their communities,only their shareholders.Privatisation would lead to poorer services in Brisbane with the average citizen denied influence.In addition,private companies regard safety and maintenance as a cost.As with the UK railways,private companies cannot be trusted in those areas.

  6. Anonymous 5 - Privatisation does not equal worse service, however BrizCommuter does agree with concerns on maintenance. The lack of evening service in Logan is likely due to 1) lack of government/council funding 2) lack of demand.

    1. I feel the reason for lack of demand, is people are not told by Translink about the new service.

      For example there was a shoppers bus service on The Gold Coast which was cancelled due as Translink claimed 'lack of demand'.

      Well if Translink told about people about the service and I don't mean buried in their website, there would not be this 'lack of demand'.

  7. walking a few hundred meters is perfectly acceptable; Not kilometers. But more frequent services are needed. I live in the sandgate area and apart from the services being infrequent they end to early. 10pm is the last bus from the city!? We claim this is a modern city but for everyone to be at home in bed before midnight is crazy! Having longer running services will also benefit the cbd business'

  8. Facebook save the 315 posters platered over the city.
    Save an hourly air parcel for people too lazy to catch a train and change (for better frequency)
    Also offpeak the Shorncliffe runs every 15mins weekdays...


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