Saturday, March 30, 2013

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

In the last blog post, BrizCommuter took a look a high level issues with Brisbane's bus network after decades of poor network design by Brisbane City Council and TransLink. In this post, BrizCommuter continues to look at Brisbane City Council's calamitous bus network which Lord Mayor Graham Quirk is quoted as saying "isn't broken".  Poor network design includes:
  • Different CBD bus stops for routes heading in the same direction
  • Routes that duplicate other bus and/or train routes
  • Routes that duplicate each other with minor variations
  • (Almost) every bus route to the CBD network
Below are more reasons why Brisbane's bus network is well and truly broken.

Route 161

Route 161 - epitome of waste!
This route is the epitome of poor network design and waste:
  • It serves a small residential area of approx 1km x 0.5km in size, but then runs express along the congested busway to the CBD (Mon-Fri) - a waste of bus and driver resources, and unnecessarily adds to congestion along the SE Busway.  
  • Appears to only run inbound in the am peak, so are empty out of service buses running in the other direction? Further waste of a bus and driver resources. 
There are plenty of other examples of low patronage buses that add to SE Busway congestion, when they should just act as feeder services, such as the 183. 

This route needs to become a feeder service, terminating where it meets the busway at Garden City. Ideally, as it takes a bus only 10 minutes to drive this route, it should become part of another feeder bus route that passes through the area (as per TransLink's canned network review). 

Route 195

The route 195 (light grey) - for lazy people
This peak only route serves New Farm and Merthyr, all within 1 block away from the high frequency route 196. Why on earth does it justify it's own route?

This route should be cut (as per TransLink's canned network review), and its passengers can get a bit of exercise. Even The Biggest Looser contestants can manage a 300m walk! 

The Great Circle Line

Who seriously thought it was a good idea to have a bus service running in a huge circle around Brisbane? This bus takes 3 and half hours for a full revolution, and not surprisingly is often observed running late.  Oh, and don't try to use it on a Sunday, or you will be waiting until Monday. So much for Sunday shopping at Chermside!

This routes needs to split up into multiple routes (as per TransLink's canned network review), which can serve each area with a more appropriate timetable and routing.

P343, P344, 345

More duplication, apart from in the CBD
These buses run between Aspley and the CBD. The 345 is notorious for being full on the inner part of the route along Enoggera and Kelvin Grove Road. The P343 could help with this congestion, but runs express past the overcrowded sections of the 345 route, usually with spare seats available - much to the annoyance of passengers left behind by full 345 services! The P344 almost runs on the same route as the 345 and P344, but with a short variation along Webster Road. Just to add insult to injury, all three routes stop at different locations in the CBD, so you cannot wait for all 3 services from the same CBD location. There are plenty of other examples in Brisbane of multiple bus routes serving the same corridor (until they reach the CBD), when they should just be merged into single routes - e.g. P129, P133, and P137 duplicating the 130, and P141 duplicating the 140, P157 duplicating the 156, P179 and P189 duplicating the 180, the list goes on and on!

The P343 services should be turned into extra 345 services (as per TransLink's canned network review) - this would also result in consistent CBD stop locations. Multiple routes serving the same corridors need to be merged into one route. At the most any transport corridor should not have any more than 2 stopping patterns (e.g. all stops and express stops). 

Route 450, 453, 454, P455, P456, P457, P458, P459 (again)

8 routes, but no frequent off-peak service
These 8 routes all serve the Centenary Suburbs. Yet, only one stop in Centenary Suburbs (Mt Ommaney Shopping Centre) is served by what could be classed as a "high frequency" service during the off-peak, resulting in this suburb being a huge public transport black-hole. The via Indooropilly routes do not interchange with train services (which may be faster than bus in the peak). As mentioned in the previous blog post, these 8 routes confusingly have 4 variations of CBD bus routings. In the future buses could have used BCC's Legacy Way road tunnel to access the CBD quickly via the Northern Busway - Campbell Newman was once quoted as saying 2000 express buses per day would use the tunnel. Unfortunately, the connection between the road tunnel and the Northern Busway has not been built due to political stupidity. 

These 8 routes should be consolidated into 2, with one being a high frequency route running out to Riverhills (as per TransLink's canned network review). Consolidated routes should share CBD stop locations. Consideration should also be given for a frequent bus route linking Centenary Suburbs with the frequent Ipswich Rail Line at Darra or Oxley (as per TransLink's canned network review).  Legacy Way tunnel should ideally be linked to the Inner Northern Busway.

These examples only scratch the surface of the inefficiency, duplication, and poor design of Brisbane's bus network. Brisbane needs a bus network "revolution", as was planned by TransLink. There is not much point with Brisbane City Council's planned bus network "evolution" if your bus network is a like a sloth in the first place (no offence to sloths!). Most of these issues would have been fixed by TransLink's plans. What will Brisbane City Council do?

Previous blog post:
Brisbane = public transport Hicksville?


  1. Will Brizcommuter do a post on Brisbane Transport Privatisation?

  2. I disagree with you about the 195. That provides a direct route along Brunswick St. The one street deviation from the 196 is a bit stupid though - should just use Oxlade Dr.

    Don't agree about removing the 137/141, 179/189 either.

    Not sure how you figure 4 stop locations for the 45x either. Only 2.

    Agree with your points about the 161, 344, 133, 156/157, 45x consolidation and city stop locations generally.

  3. BzC, I have noticed a few times that you have said that some pre-paid routes should be 'consolidated'.

    I would rather see pre-paid routes massively increased.

  4. Garvin - just because bus routes that share the same corridor should be consolidated, doesn't mean that the consolidated route cannot be pre-pay only.

  5. I do wonder which direction BCC will go on this. They seem to have three options:

    1) Protest the proposed network changes, then in about a year release a staggered series of changes that look a bit similar to the major re-vamp.

    2) Junk it all and have some only minor changes

    3) Release their own large changes based on different ideas, ask for feedback, get more complaints and then decide it is all too hard.

    The biggest issue I see with handing it over to BCC is now any chance of major integration between bus and train is gone. Translink were the only ones who gave this idea any chance of getting off the ground. Now that it has been handed over to BCC, who are responsible for running the buses, that is gone and we are stuck with a system similar to what we have now.

    Should be start a pool for people to guess when the BCC led changes will become the new bus network?

    What happens after the BCC led review is released and the other councils say they do not agree with the BCC led review recommendations and refuse to endorse it, just like BCC did with the state review?

  6. In terms of the problems you identify, I agree with you. However, I don't think that the TL review necessarily had all the answers.

    Any bus service to the Wishart Outlook subdivision is simply providing coverage. You can blame the developer that a subdivision between two major bus stations has stuff all access to either of them.

    As such, tagging a small tail onto an existing route was probably the right move. What was wrong was tagging that tail onto the Garden City - CBD rocket. Probably a small extension of the 111 out of the EMP station would have been more useful.

    The 161 could then be converted to extra 111 services (if needed) as it seems to have quite light patronage even on the core Garden City - CBD leg of the route.

    This is a peak hour only route. Because of this, I don't think it's wasteful. But it is confusing. All the existing services are probably quite well patronised, but TL should pick a single route through southern New Farm and stick with it. IMHO, convert the 195 into extra 196 services and send it straight down Bruswick Street to Merthyr Village and then around a loop via Sydney or Merthyr Street and Oxlade Drive.

    The 34x
    I agree with you completely on this one. Distributing people around the CBD should be done by a local loop (similar to Perth). The extra peak hour services should all run the same stopping pattern.

    The 45x
    I partially disagree on this one. The Centenary suburbs are too large to be served by a single high frequency route as shown in the TL review. The TL proposal was for a slightly modified 450, which is too long to be attractive to existing 454 passengers past Mt Ommaney, but too far away from lots of the existing 453 passengers.

    The solution is to decide where the high frequency is needed. If it is only needed Mt Ommaney - CBD, then the 453 should have it's direction reversed so it travels to Mt Ommaney before Jindalee, and all the timetables harmonised. If it is needed all the way to Jindalee AND all the way to Riverhills, then there should be two BUZ routes. Most of the other duplication is due to the CBD issue, and I agree with you on that score.

  7. Overall, I was pretty positive about the Translink review, they seemed to be going in the right direction in order to improve the efficiency of the network.

    I catch the 344 daily, both inbound and outbound, as its diversion from the 345 onto Webster road is close to where I live, and it drops me off closer to my work in the city than the other alternatives along Webster Road (325/335). The changes that Translink proposed were not going to greatly affect me, as well as most of the people that catch that bus to go from Webster Road into the CBD.

    However there is a group of people who catch the 344 at the Thomas Street stop in the Grange, specifically several Kelvin State High School students, who would be greatly affected by the removal of this service. Looking at the revised map from the review, there were no options provided to get people from that area over to Enogerra Road where they could catch the frequent service that would go along that road. From the Thomas street stop to the closest stop on Enogerra Road is about a 2km walk, going over the train line near Newmarket station. The train line isn't much help either, as it goes in a completely different direction inbound, and doesn't go anywhere near Kelvin Grove. It might be possible to catch a train outbound one station to Alderley Station, then catch the frequent bus from a stop near that station, but that is a considerable backtrack.

    The removal of the 344 service would also affect any QUT Kelvin Grove students or employees who catch the bus along Webster road or the Grange, for the same reasons given above.

    The main issue I had with the Translink review was it did not give much information at all on what the Feeder services were going to be, as well as any detailed information on frequencies or timetables. This information could have been used in a trip planner, so people could more effectively see how the changes were going to affect them. I think this is a contributing factor as to why there was considerable negative response from the public and from BCC.


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