Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Quirky Metro - The Slow Coach?

BrizCommuter has been bagging the Quirky Metro quite a lot recently, though this is entirely justified. BrizCommuter promises this will be the last post on this subject for a while. It has already ascertained that the capacity of the Quirky Metro will be less than the existing busway. But what about journey times?


In this article, BrizCommuter makes the following assumptions:
  1. Bus journey times - based on MyTransLink app and TransLink Journey Planner around 8am. The journey time from Wooloongabba to Herston by bus is given as 15 minutes. 
  2. Metro journey times - based on an average speed of 30kph, which is halfway between the average speed of traditional Paris Metro lines (20kph) and the driverless Line 14 (40kph). With numerous tight slow speed curves along the 7km Quirky Metro route, BrizCommuter expects this figure to be reasonably accurate. This results in a journey time from Wooloongabba to Herston of 14 minutes.
  3. Bus routes compared - only bus routes that run via the existing inner SE and Northern Busway have been included. Some "Rocket" bus routes that bypass the the inner busways would also bypass the Quirky Metro and thus have not included.  
  4. Interchange times - no information has been provided on interchange design by Team Quirk (they probably haven't even though about it), so a nominal 2 minutes figure has been given to transfer from bus to metro (and vice-versa). 
  5. Wait times - from available data, the Quirky Metro will run at 4 minute peak frequencies at opening. This is an average waiting time of 2 minutes. Of course, this could be worse during the off-peak. Bus waiting times are based on the current peak bus route frequency, divided by 2 for the average waiting time. 
Journey time comparison

Chermside to King George Square
Busway - 31mins (2m wait, 29m journey bus (333)) 
Quirky Metro - 35mins (2m wait, 22m journey bus (333), 2m change, 2m wait, 7m journey metro)

Busway - 27.5mins (2.5m wait, 25m journey bus)
Quirky Metro - 34.75mins (1.25m wait, 2m journey bus, 2m change, 2m wait, 14m journey metro, 2m change, 2.5m wait, 9m journey bus) 

RBWH to Mater Hill
Busway - 15mins (2.5m wait, 15m journey bus)
Quirky Metro - 19.25mins (1.25m wait, 2m journey bus, 2m change, 2m wait, 12m journey metro)

QUT to Roma Street
Busway - 5.25mins (1.25m wait, 4m journey bus)
Quirky Metro - 5.75mins (2m wait, 3.75m journey metro)

King George Square to UQ
Busway - 19.5mins (2.5m, 17m journey bus)
Quirky Metro - 22.5mins (2m wait, 7m journey metro, 2m change, 2.5m wait, 9m bus)

Eight Mile Plains to King George Square
Busway - 27.5mins (2.5m wait, 25m journey bus)
Quirky Metro - 27.5mins (2.5m wait, 14m journey bus, 2m change, 2m wait, 7m journey metro)

Tarragindi to Cultural Centre
Busway - 26m (5m wait, 21m journey bus)
Quirky Metro - 30.75m (5m wait, 17m journey bus, 2m change 2m wait, 4.75m journey metro)


As expected the results are pretty damning towards the Quirky Metro. In all but one case the journey time via the Quirky Metro is slower than using the existing busways. This is mainly due to the forced change between bus and metro at Herston and Wooloongabba, but also due to the lower frequency of the metro at opening compared to the busway. Even with improved metro frequencies in the future (2 mins instead of 4mins), and taking into account buses being delayed compared to the timetable, there is no realistic justification for a $1.5b business case based on improving journey times. Delays along the congested busway could easily be resolved at negligible financial cost just by redesigning Brisbane's bus network, something that Graham Quirk and Brisbane City Council rejected in 2013, but has been achieved on other cities such as Auckland.

Team Quirk's claims of end to end journey times of 12 minutes is unrealistic and potentially misleading. This would result in an average speed of  35kph which would be closer to automated driverless metro lines with long station gaps, and no tight curves. The Quirky Metro would have multiple very tight, low speed curves, and is not driverless. However there are a few "higher speed" sections and reasonable station spacing. It should be noted that Team Quirk's average journey speed claim is more than 10% faster than the Ferny Grove Line which averages 31kph between Ferny Grove and Bowen Hills!

It should also be noted that Cross River Rail would be expected to take approximately 6 to 7 minutes to run between Wooloongabba and Exhibition (near Herston). This is less than half the time of the Quirky Metro.

In previous posts we have assessed that the capacity of the Quirky Metro is likely to vary between 4,500 and 14,300 (depending on calculation) compared to the existing busway with a capacity of 12,000 to 18,000 (depending on source of data). With less capacity and generally decreased journey times, any business case would surely have to be be in the realm of fraudulent? However, this is Brisbane where business cases for two toll road tunnels were made around overtly optimistic (and almost impossible) usage figures - be afraid!


Distance map below using Google Maps


  1. Woollongabba to roma st with CCR. 150 seconds with an average wait time of 90 seconds.

  2. Taren - if you are referring to Cross River Rail (CRR) it will probably take around 4 minutes between Woollongabba and Roma St compared to the Quirky Metro's 7 minutes. Average wait times for CRR at opening would be around 1.88 mins (peak) to 3.25mins off-peak. So CRR would have similar or slightly better journey times from Wooloongabba to Roma St compared to the Quirky Metro.


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