Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Brisbane Metro - Now Half-Baked

Cultural Centre - half-baked upgrade
Brisbane City Council's Brisbane Metro project has had a rocky history. The original idea, possibly drawn up on the back of a napkin after a few alcoholic drinks, was to convert the core of the SE and Inner Northern Busway to a Paris style rubber tyred metro system. It was fundamentally flawed as it stopped short of key trip generaters such as UQ, PAH, and RBWH, and any savings in journey times would have been eroded by forcing most passengers to have to change from bus to metro (or vice versa), sometimes twice. A much more sensible decision was made to replace this with a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system with specially designed "Metro" buses on the core routes (including to UQ, PAH, and RBWH) whilst also allowing many existing bus routes to also traverse the busway.

The key part of the Brisbane Metro Mk2/BRT project was fixing the most serious mistake of the original SE Busway design - the Melbourne Street/Grey Street intersection at Cultural Centre. The plan was to underground this section, removing the congested and dangerous grade junction with road traffic. Unfortunately it seems that now, possibly due to silly LNP vs ALP political games, that this idea had been dropped. Whilst there will be some improvements at this intersection, it will be remain a bottleneck for busway traffic. This bottleneck lengthens journey times, can make journey times very unpredictable, and reduces capacity.

This move is very disappointing, as multiple Brisbane public transport projects are watered down to the point at which they are barely worth building. The Northern Busway tunnel along Gympie Road was recently replaced by proposed bus lanes, which was then replaced by peak period only bus lanes This is a repeat of the delay inducing road running of the Northern Busway between Windsor and Lutwyche. Cross River Rail has been watered down so much that it is now a tunnel between two serious bottlenecks at both ends. Whilst Melbourne, Sydney, and Auckland are all constructing well designed infrastructure allowing for huge increases in transport capacity, public transport planning in SE Queensland continues to be a half-baked disaster. 

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