Saturday, August 6, 2011

Busway to RBWH - The Terrible Twos

INB - Still a basket case!
A year ago BrizCommuter ran this blog post about the history of chronic Inner Northern Busway overcrowding. With the extension to RBWH now two years old,  how has the Inner Northern Busway fared in the last year?

The route 66 only runs at full frequency during university semesters. During university holidays the peak frequency is halved from every 5 minutes to every 10 minutes. Unfortunately, this has at times resulted in a serious overcrowding as school children, hospital workers, and those attending university holiday events (such as summer schools) try and board the reduced frequency service. The most serious cases of passengers being left behind by full buses were at Roma Street in the am peak (outbound), and QUT Kelvin Grove in the pm peak (inbound). There were many reports of passengers waiting more than 30 mins to be able to board a bus at these locations. BrizCommuter was informed by the bus operator BCC that the service provision was indeed inadequate at times, but to date nothing has been done about the poor university holiday frequency.

So did the start of the university semester in March, and the route 66 running at full frequency solve the overcrowding? A refreshingly large number of new students attempted to use the Inner Northern Busway in their first few weeks of university. The system could not cope, and the overcrowding was even worse than the out of semester problems mentioned above. On one occasion more than 160 fed up students were observed waiting to board a bus at QUT Kelvin Grove! Not surprisingly this wasn't sustainable for many students, and BrizCommuter is aware of many students having to resort to using the go car instead of the go card. The overcrowding reduced significantly after a month as students resorted to other forms of transport and attended less lectures.

The inability for hospital workers to be able to board a bus within a reasonable timeframe from Roma Street to RCH Herston/RBWH in the am peak (due to full bus after full bus) drove yet more passengers back into their cars. Of BrizCommuter's 8 work colleagues who previously used the Inner Northern Busway, only 2 still catch the bus. 5 have gone back to driving into work, and 1 moved house so as to live within walking distance. This is very sad indication of how overcrowding and high fares have made Brisbane's public transport system very unattractive to those who would prefer to use more sustainable transport options than the car.

Now well into the second university semester of 2011, with more students and hospital workers using alternative transport options, is there still overcrowding? In the last week BrizCommuter has observed 3 consecutive full buses in the inbound direction at Normanby just after 3pm, and a full inbound 66 just after midday! With another extension to the Northern Busway looming, it is time for TransLink to start properly planning and funding a solution to the Inner Northern Busway's woes.


  1. Would simply re-extending the 393 to Roma St (or beyond) be enough?

  2. Having the 66 every 5mins shows that we should be looking at converting the busways to light rail!
    I wonder how people coped before the 66 even existed. Hmmm

  3. Simon - extending the 393 to Roma Street or King George Square would certainly help, and make more efficiency use of this lightly used service. In the am peak the 393 is a godsend for passengers trying to board a bus at Normanby travelling outbound, as all the other bus routes are often full. Unfortunately it only runs every 20 minutes.

  4. Anonymous - sadly, it's a bit too late now to convert busways to light rail, without spending lots of money that doesn't exist. Also, light rail would not provide any higher capacity on the SE Busway than buses unless it was rebuilt to almost heavy rail standards, again spending lots of money that does not exist. This had been covered in an early BrizCommuter blog post.


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