Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ekka-va waste

Ekka at Night
It's nearly time for the 2013 Ekka, and thus time for wasteful bus operations from the kings of inefficiency - Brisbane City Council's Brisbane Transport. BrizCommuter is not sure if this wastage is due to TransLink or Brisbane Transport, but after the bus network review fiasco, it seems that Brisbane Transport are higher up the incompetence-o-meter.

So what is so wasteful?

1) Bus routes running in parallel with trains lines. Despite the Ekka being served by trains (to Bowen Hills and Fortitude Valley), and connecting loop trains (to Exhibition Station), Brisbane Transport are running bus routes that compete with the train services. For example, the EK1 to Northgate, EK6 to Eagle Junction, EK7 to Shorncliffe, and EK8 to Beenleigh. As most travel to/from to Ekka is during the off-peak times, these bus services are completely unnecessary. Last year these buses (usually empty) ran every 15 mins. This year they will run every 30mins (and will still be empty). How about scrapping them altogether next year?

2) Bus routes running in parallel with existing bus routes. For example the EK2 to Eight Mile Plains, EK4 to Carindale, and EK5 to Chermside. The RBWH busway station is next to one of the entrances to the Ekka, thus travel to/from the Ekka can be made on the existing frequent bus routes. Off-peak RBWH is served by 12 buses per hour running between Chermside and beyond to the CBD (for bus connections) via the Northern Busway. There is no need for these services, which again were observed to be mainly carrying air last year. Although buses can be overcrowded on the Inner Northern Busway, the Ekka traffic should not add to this congestion.

Whilst on the subject of the Ekka, here is something TransLink have failed to tell their customers yet again:
Got it!

Update 08/08/2013

BrizCommuter observed 4 of the wasteful EKx bus services today. Surprise, surprise, they all had zero passengers.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Spanish Train Crash - could a similar accident occur in Brisbane?

The recent train crash in Spain was quite horrific, with 78 passengers killed, and almost all passengers injured. The crash allegedly occurred due to the train speeding at 190kph, more than double that 80kph speed limit. Automatic Train Protection (ATP) could have prevented this crash by enforcing a speed limit, but this was either not installed, or not activated on this train (UPDATE - ATP was not installed on this non-high speed track section). Similar accidents caused by trains going around bends too quickly have also occurred in Amagasaki, Japan in 2005 (107 deaths), on the Queensland Tilt Train in 2004, and also the infamous Camp Mountain crash between Ferny Grove and Samford in 1947 (16 deaths).

Could a similar crash occur on SE Queensland's rail network?

The answer is yes, but at lower speed as most of SE Queensland's rail network is below approx. 100kph speed limit. SE Queensland's rail network is riddled with very sharp bends with low speed limits - for example 14% of the Ferny Grove Line has speed limits of 60kph or lower due to sharp curves. The narrow gauge of Queensland's railways does not help, as trains are less stable on curves compared to wider track gauges. There is still no ATP on SE Queensland's rail network (parts of Sunshine Coast Line excepted) to enforce speed limits around these sharp bends. Thus driving to the speed limit is entirely down to train driver judgement. Whilst Queensland Rail and it's drivers have a very good safety record, it only takes one driver's inattention to kill dozens of passengers. The continuing lack of ATP (due to delays in implementing ERTMS - Level 2 signalling) on Brisbane's rail network is an accident waiting to happen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Go Card - how to take advantage of the system

It has recently been published on Rail Back on Track's website, and a follow up article on Brisbane Times' website on how to legally take advantage of the flawed and extortionate go card system.

The published methods are as below:
  • The well known method of "abusing" the 9 journeys then free cap, by taking additional short (low cost) journeys early in the week, and then getting free longer distance journeys later in the week.
  • Taking advantage of the seniors 2 then free cap, by using a second go card to break up short distance journeys to allow for free longer distance journeys later in the day. This one is more for hardcore seniors. 
There is also another method:
  • If the gap between two rail journeys is one to two hours (e.g a return shopping trip) and the station does not have barriers, then "forget" to touch off at the end of the first trip. Remember to "touch off" and then "touch on" just before the second journey. This results in both journeys being charged one fare. The first "touch off", and second "touch on" must occur within 3.5 hours of the first "touch on". 
Is it ethically correct to be publishing these go card rorts? Most probably. Why?
  • The fare system is so badly designed (e.g 9 journeys then free instead of weekly/monthly periodicals) that it is just asking to be rorted.
  • The fares are so expensive (to the point of discouraging public transport use) and such poor value for money that any sensible person will try and legally take advantage of the system if they can.
  • TransLink's go card condition of use takes the piss, and can leave go card users in dubious legal situations through no fault of their own. 
  • TransLink must be making a lot of money from unclaimed go card fixed fares.