Tuesday, July 31, 2012

23 minutes...

...it took for police (? transport police) to remove a threatening and abusive nutcase from an outbound Ferny Grove Line train at Bowen Hills last night - 30/06/2012. Given that Bowen Hills is well known for being one of Brisbane's least safe train stations, this huge 23 minute delay for the police to arrive is extremely concerning. If the nutcase had been more violent, multiple passengers or staff could have been injured.

Whilst BrizCommuter commends the train crew and security guards for their professionalism, BrizCommuter was very unimpressed by the police response.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Slasher Newman to review bus network

In another welcome common sense move by the LNP government, Campbell Newman's government will review SE Queensland's bus network to "improve service reliability, affordability, and frequency". The full statement from Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson is here:

The statement claims to look at the following areas - commentary by BrizCommuter provided for each point:

  • Eliminating service duplication - is this referring to duplication with other bus or train services? BrizCommuter would like the network to be redesigned to a trunk and feeder network, rather than an "everything goes to the CBD" spoke network. Less frequent local feeder routes should connect with high frequency core routes along busways and main roads. Lets hope that Brisbane City Council's massively duplicating Maroon CityGlider is dropped otherwise this exercise would be a farce.  
  • Managing Cultural Centre congestion - Cultural Centre is now at its maximum capacity without further infrastructure modifications. Only high frequency trunk routes, and routes with high average loadings should be routed via Cultural Centre. Combining some Northern Busway and SE Busway routes may be a potential option, but reliability of resulting longer routes may be questionable. 
  • Simplifying the network - Common CBD stop locations serving each corridor, and a trunk and feeder network would help here. Multiple routes along corridors with minor route variations also need to be reviewed. 
  • Better connectivity between services and modes - Trunk routes for connections should be at least every 15 minutes. Thus, this idea falls apart when connecting with Brisbane's infrequent train network. There is nothing worse than missing a connection due to a late running bus, and then having to wait 30 minutes for the next train! The frequency of Brisbane's inner-suburban train network needs to be urgently upgraded to 7 days/week 15 minutes off-peak frequency. 
  • Redirect resources to routes where there is overcrowding - This is common sense, as priorities should be given to bus routes where demand outstrips supply, as opposed to bus routes where supply is far in excess of demand. However latent demand (i.e. increasing frequency of low frequency routes to significantly increase demand) needs to be taken into account as well.
TransLink have been given 6 months for this review. With SE Queensland's bus network being such a mess, BrizCommuter doubts that 6 months is enough to even scratch the surface. Will this review just be a quick fix to save money for the new LNP government, rather than the massive overhaul of Brisbane's bus network that is urgently required? As a final note, if any low patronage routes are to have services cut, then there needs to be adequate community consultation first.

Update 31/06/2012

Slasher Newman has now slashed TransLink, which is merging with Department of Transport and Main Roads with many job losses. Whilst BrizCommuter does not wish anyone out of a job, will those accountable for TransLink's long list of incompetency and mediocrity end up on gardening leave? If what has happened in other Queensland Government departments is anything to go by, the deadwood may still remain, whilst the talent is lost.

Something also needs to be done to improve the gross inefficiencies arising from Brisbane City Council's Brisbane Transport. But is the LNP government looking after their council mates?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ekka-va improvement!

After the Ekka train ticket fiasco in 2011 caused by TransLink's flawed ticketing options, there is some very good news for those travelling to and from the Ekka this year. The new LNP government have released a special return Ekka train ticket which costs $6 for adults, and $3 for children and concession card holders. This is same price for any length of train journey, and considerably cheaper than even a 2 zone paper ticket. This special ticket is great value for money for those who rarely use public transport and do not have a go card - i.e. passengers who tend to only use public transport to get to the Ekka, RiverFire, and the Broncos. BrizCommuter welcomes this common sense move. However, passengers intending on using this ticket have to be aware that there are two catches:

  1. You will need to buy the ticket from a bus, ferry, or train station ticket office - but most station ticket offices are closed on weekends. 
  2. You will need to have a pre-purchased Ekka ticket to buy the special return Ekka ticket. 
For next year, BrizCommuter recommends that the price is upped slightly and a free go card is included to try and introduce more occasional ticket users to the joys (sic) of the go card. 

Previously, go card users who are too lazy to walk from Bowen Hills/Fortitude Valley were charged an extra $1.30 fare to get to Exhibition station. This surcharge has also been dropped, with no extra fares (on top of the usual extortionate fares) to get to Exhibition station. A very welcome move by the new Transport Minister! 

News source: 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yet another go card fail

The go card 9 journey cap was recently implemented after an election promise, which allows for free public transport journeys after the 9th during a Monday to Sunday week. BrizCommuter was happy to see his 10th journey free on Friday morning. But on the journey home, the 11th journey of the week, BrizCommuter was charged for the second leg of the journey. The first leg was a bus journey, and the second leg was a train journey, with a 5 minute connection. No fixed fares have occurred during the week which could upset the journey count.

It is very disappointing to be charged extra, when the journey is supposed to be free. BrizCommuter is aware of this occurring to other users as well, one of which also had a bus to train connection during the journey. As with the rail replacement bus go card farce, this issue may put commuters in difficult situations if it forces them to run out of credit on their go card. It may also trigger a premature automatic top up. Then there is also the time consuming annoyance factor of having to claim to fixed fare due to yet another go card failure.

As it is likely that other public transport users have been hit by this glitch, BrizCommuter recommends go card users check their history since the 9 journey cap was introduced to see if this has occurred to them. BrizCommuter also expects nothing less than TransLink and Cubic investigating this issue, and automatically refunding commuters who have been affected by this glitch. To not automatically refund affected commuters could be interpreted as theft. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New late night Shorncliffe trains

Brisbane at night - shame about the train service
In a well received move, the new LNP government, Queensland Rail and TransLink have added two new late night outbound and inbound services on the Shorncliffe Line. The new inbound services departs Boondall at 11:14 and 12:14pm, filling hour long service gaps. These services have primarily been added to assist getting passengers home from the Brisbane Entertainment Centre at Boondall. With traffic congestion at concert finish time being notorious this is very good news. However, the last three inbound Shorncliffe Line services may still not connect with major train lines in the CBD. Maybe starting and finishing concerts 30 minute earlier should also be considered?

 Many other lines also have hour long train service gaps late at night on weekdays, much to the annoyance of shift workers, theatre goers, and those travelling home from social events. This is unacceptable in a city that considers itself a "new world city". Other late night weekday gaps that need filling include:

  • Ferny Grove Line - between ex-Central 10:33 and 11:33pm. 
  • Cleveland Line - between ex-Central 9:47, 10:45, and 11:46pm.
  • Gold Coast Line - between ex-Central 8:24, 9:24, 10:24, and 11:24pm.
  • Beenleigh Line - between ex-Central 11:01pm and 12:01pm
So come on Queensland Government, QR, and TransLink - fill the gaps, this is Brisbane not Bourke! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

QR Passenger Load Survey - The Awful Truth

Where have the passengers gone?
Edited 09/07/2012 8:30pm

After being published in response to a Right to Information request in 2009, the Queensland Rail (QR) passenger load survey has been missing in action until it recently published again from late 2011. The non-publishing of the passenger load survey coincided with the 15% fare increases. BrizCommuter reveals the awful truth that the last government was hiding from commuters about the effects of extortionate fare increases, lack of new train services, and a disastrous new timetable.

BrizCommuter has taken a look at figures for the whole QR passenger network, the Ferny Grove Line, and Enoggera - an individual station on the Ferny Grove Line in Campbell Newman's electorate. The load surveys are undertaken in March each year, and are manually counted.

Network am peak

2005 50725
2006 54572 7.6%
2007 59548 9.1%
2008 62505 5.0%
2009 65740 5.2% 
2010 62863 -4.4% <-15% fare increase
2011 67421 7.3% <-15% fare increase
2012 63563 -1.5% <-15% fare increase

Ferny Grove Line am peak

2005 6632
2006 7250 9.3%
2007 7772 7.2%
2008 7583 -2.4%
2009 8182 7.9%  <- New timetable
2010 7834 -4.1% <-20% fare increase
2011 7942 1.3% <-15% fare increase
2012 7855 -1.1% <-15% fare increase

Enoggera am peak

2005 617 
2006 666 7.9%
2007 713 7.1%
2008 722 1.3%
2009 626 -13.3% <- New timetable
2010 580 -7.3% <-20% fare increase
2011 563 -2.9% <-15% fare increase
2012 599 6.4% <-15% fare increase

Network pm peak

2005 46784
2006 48518 3.7%
2007 52018 7.2%
2008 56263 8.2%
2009 57270 1.8%
2010 56478 -1.4% <-20% fare increase
2011 59728 5.8% <-15% fare increase
2012 60422 1.2% <-15% fare increase

Ferny Grove pm peak

2005 6646 
2006 6331 -4.7%
2007 7179 13.4%
2008 7644 6.5%
2009 7081 -7.4% <- New timetable
2010 7057 -0.3% <-20% fare increase
2011 7622 8.0% <-15% fare increase
2012 7269 -4.6% <-15% fare increase

Enoggera pm peak

2005 494 
2006 572 15.6%
2007 674 17.8%
2008 670 -0.6%
2009 598 -10.7% <- New timetable
2010 439 -26.6% <-20% fare increase
2011 520 18.5% <-15% fare increase
2012 496 -4.6% <-15% fare increase

The results show that network patronage was generally soaring year by year prior the ALP government's flawed fare rise policy. The first 20% fare rise was massively detrimental to patronage, with more than 4% reduction in both network and Ferny Grove Line am peak patronage, and a whopping 26.6% pm peak reduction at Enoggera. It should be be noted that these trends have also been repeated on most of the rest of QR's passenger network. 

At Enoggera the pm peak patronage is now the same as in March 2004. This shows that the 15% fare increases, and an abysmal pm peak service reduction (from 7tph to 4tph) in the March 2008 timetable has undone all of the huge patronage increases that occurred in the mid-2000s with an overall -35% patronage decrease between 2007 and 2010! Sadly, commuters are still awaiting a fix to the flawed 2008 timetable which was introduced with no consultation. 

So where have all the passengers gone? Some of the inner Ferny Grove Line passengers may have moved to more frequent bus services (390, 345, P343, 333, etc). However, most of outer Ferny Grove Line passengers (Oxford Park to Ferny Grove) have no alternative other than driving to work. Commuters who are discouraged from using these stations will just add to the congestion of the Samford Road/Wardell Street intersection! 

The new LNP government must urgently curb, or even roll back the fare increases, and improve peak service frequencies. Failure to do so will increase road congestion, road trauma and pollution, all of which will have negative effects on Queensland's economy. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

TransLink Tracker Q3 2011/12 (and QR load survey)

Too expensive!
The release of the TransLink Tracker appears to get later each quarter. TransLink have finally released the Tracker for Q3 2011/2012 (January to March). Due to last year's Q3 2010/11 Tracker being affected by patronage changes due to the floods, the statistics are difficult to compare to last year.   BrizCommuter would like to congratulate TransLink and QR for releasing the Q3 passenger load survey which has been kept secret from the public from the last few years. Sadly, the results, as expected are not good reading.

TransLink Tracker Q3 2011/2012

Page 4 - Overall patronage was up 11% compared to flood riddled 2011, but only up 1.8% since non-flood riddled 2010. This is less than population growth, so technically public transport patronage has not grown at all in 2 years due to excessive fares. 

Page 5 - Subsidy per trip has increased, with 76% of public transport costs coming from subsidy. This shows that the previous government's fare increase policy has miserably failed in reducing subsidy percentage.

Page 6 - Train on-time running has fallen to a pathetic 90%, well below the benchmark of 93.77%.
Bus on time running figures are 95.52%, which does not seem to resemble reality. BrizCommuter would like to know how TransLink calculate this dubious figure?

Page 7 - Complaints have increased. Funnily enough, BrizCommuter is still awaiting a reply to a complaint made in April!

Page 8 - Go card use has increased by 8%, but a scary 18% of passengers are still wasting money on paper tickets. 

Page 9 - A whopping 2.3% of journey still end up with a fixed fare, but only 0.11% of journeys end up with an adjustment for the fixed fare. A very concerning discrepancy!

Page 13 - Affordability rating has continued to free fall. Even with the 9 journey cap, and free CityHopper ferries, Brisbane is still one of the 5 most expensive public transport systems in the world, and light years away from being in the top 5 best public transport systems. 

Page 15 - Train service kilometres have increased by 0%, and bus kilometres have increased by little more than 1%. This is extremely disappointing given that fares have increased 15% in the same period. 

Non-existent - Full bus statistics, missing again!

Q3 2011/12 QR Passenger load survey

BrizCommuter will go into more detail about the effects of excessive fare discouraging the use of public transport in a future blog post. In brief, the figures show that the fare increases, combined with the lack of service improvements (notably the ongoing delay of the Stage 2 timetables) is continuing to stunt patronage growth. Overall AM peak patronage has decreased by 1.5%, and even the previously high growth Gold Coast Line has lost 5.5% of passengers in the last year. Overall PM peak patronage has marginally increased by 1.2%, less than population growth. The only notable positive news from the passenger load survey is that overcrowding has decreased on the Caboolture and Ipswich Lines after the stage 1 timetable changes.