Monday, April 16, 2018

GC2018 - Review and to the Future

Shuttle buses - not a success
GC2018 Transport Review

Now that the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) has ended, how did the transport plan fare?
  • Light Rail / G:link - with all but 1 tram in service, the up to 6 minute frequency was successful at transport large amounts of passengers with few delays or excessive queues. 
  • Shuttle Bus services - these were more embarrassing than the amateurish closing ceremony. Whilst things did improve during the games, loading (and at times unloading) procedures were poorly organised and implemented. The special shuttle buses for people with disabilities were also reported as having serious operational issues. 
  • High frequency scheduled bus services - these were generally popular and successful, though multiple successive full buses occurred before/after some events. Light and heavy rail is much better at moving large numbers of people efficiently.
  • QR's Gold Coast Line service - the 6 to 8tph train service was successful at moving large numbers of passengers with few reports of overcrowding (probably helped by low capacity shuttle buses feeding it), and no serious delays. 
  • Rest of QR's CityTrain network - due to lack of train drivers #RailFail, reduced services on all other train lines resulted in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast having an an even more infrequent and dysfunctional public transport system than usual. This will continue for another week. 
  • M1 - this was often busy but still moving. Much of this was due to drivers avoiding the M1 like the plague. 
Whilst many elements of the transport plan were successful, the entire GC2018 transport plan cannot be considered a success due to the rest of SE Queensland having significantly reduced train services, and the epic shuttle bus failures.

The Future

There is no question that the improved service frequencies on the Gold Coast Light Rail (G:link) and QR's Gold Coast Line provided to be very popular with the travelling public. In fact, many Gold Coasters will be disappointed with the return to normality. SE Queensland urgently needs to move towards having a train network with a high frequency 7-days a week off-peak service throughout most of the network (just like in Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne). What is required for this to happen?
  • More drivers - it is unlikely that #RailFail will be resolved until the next decade, and it will taken further years of sustained driver recruitment until 15 minute off-peak services can rolled out network wide. This needs to be high priority. 
  • More trains - whilst providing off-peak services is less of an issue than peak services, the current NGR order is insufficient to even maximise use of the existing train network prior to Cross River Rail. 
  • Improved infrastructure - extra tracks on part of the Gold Coast/Beenleigh Line corridor and Sunshine Coast Line would be a minimum requirement for network wide 15 minute off-peak service. Cross River Rail, Trouts Rd/NE Transportation Corridor Line, Cleveland Line duplication, Salisbury to Beaudesert Line, extension to Ripley, a new train line to Caloundra and Maroochydore, and extensions to the Gold Coast Light Rail are also required to cope with the growing population of SE Queensland. 
  • Improved bus connectivity - move to bus feeder networks. This won't work until the train frequency is half-decent. 
  • Improved political competence, co-operation, and governance - none of the above will happen without the end to pathetic tit-for-tat politics and co-operation between various levels of government. Public transport governance needs a serious change for SE Queensland if any progress is to be made. 
Some other lessons that need to be learnt for future sporting events in Queensland, Australia, and the rest of the world (please read Birmingham, as your stadium for the 2022 Commonwealth Games is also in a mediocre location):
  • Ideally venues should be constructed within easy walking distance of high capacity and high frequency public transport - most preferably heavy rail. The London Olympic Park got it right being served by over 100tph! Shuttle bus services and associated Park'n'Rides should be avoided as being the primary method of transport to a venue.
  • If shuttle buses are required, then dedicated infrastructure needs to be provided to allow this to efficient - allowing for grade separated flows of buses and pedestrians, and sufficient nearby places for buses to queue. Look at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium as a good example. 

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