Thursday, November 15, 2012

Does Brisbane have the world's best bus drivers?

This will probably be the last blog post by BrizCommuter for a few weeks, and for a change BrizCommuter has something positive to say. Brisbane's bus drivers often get bad press, but BrizCommuter (who incidentally has used public transport in more than 50 cities, and on every continent apart from Antarctica) believes that despite a few bad eggs, the world's best bus drivers are in Brisbane. Why?

  • Politeness - it may help that most Brisbanites say a thank-you back. 
  • Helpful (1) - many a bus driver has been seen going out of their way to assist disabled and elderly passengers and/or their possessions on and off buses (useful as not all of the bus fleet is low floor).
  • Helpful (2) - drivers usually seem to give good advice to those with questions, and let passengers know when to get off when requested by passengers unsure of the route.
  • Patience (1) - drivers will usually wait if they see passengers running for the bus. 
  • Patience (2) - can cope with the unreliability of the go card system - "walk on, free journey"!
  • Driving - generally good driving skills, although white gloved Japanese bus drivers probably win the prize here. 
The high quality of Brisbane bus drivers is refreshing compared to London where BrizCommuter previously lived. In London, bus drivers were often rude, ignored passengers in wheelchairs, and had a lead foot on the accelerator and brake (often at the same time).  Is there anything that can be improved for Brisbane's bus drivers? BrizCommuter's main point would be to take care that buses don't run early at any point of the journey, which can happen during lighter than usual traffic conditions (e.g. school holidays, late at night). Also, always listen out for the bell!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Now Airport Link goes tits-up!

In a move that has surprised no one with any common sense, the operators of the Airport Link toll tunnel BrisConnections have hit a spot of financial trouble. It has been reported in this Courier Mail article that BrisConnections have suspended trading on the ASX indefinitely, with a restructuring and insolvency firm conducting an independent review. With far less than 50% of the expected traffic (which came from quite ludicrous predictions), there have recently been predictions of the impending financial collapse of BrisConnections. The $4.8b Airport Link may well find itself joining Clem 7 in the list of of failed Brisbane toll tunnels, with Clem7's operators RiverCity Motorway Group collapsing into $1.4b debt in 2010. BrizCommuter predicts that the under construction Legacy Way toll road tunnel, due to open in 2015, could also be a financial failure. Concerningly for BrizCommuter as a Brisbane rate payer, Legacy Way will be owned and operated by Brisbane City Council.

It is time that both Queensland and Australian Federal politicians see the light at the end of the toll road tunnel - building more roads does not solve road congestion. The key to solving congestion (and associated road pollution and trauma) is by attracting motorists to a frequent and well priced public transport system as had been the case across Europe. A move to active transport - cycling and walking also helps. Unfortunately, Brisbane has anything but a frequent and well priced public transport system, having the world's 3rd most expensive fares. Despite $100s of millions being spent on rail infrastructure such as the Ferny Grove Line duplication, Gold Coast Line, Richlands/Springfield Line, and Caboolture to Beerburrum duplication, they are still served by an infrequent train service at most times of the day. Planned cycle lanes on the Centenary Highway will even be replaced with more car lanes. T2 lanes on the Pacific Highway will be removed for more car lanes, which will only increase the speed at which traffic jams will build up further along the M1. Failure to connect Legacy Way to the Inner Northern Busway was also leave a "legacy" of sustainable transport planning failure. Despite having more economic gain than cost, the vital Cross River Rail is still languishing in an attempt to get both state and federal funding.

It's time for a change from years of failed road-centric transport planning in Queensland!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Springfield Line - built to fail?

19 months ago, BrizCommuter wrote this blog post about the failings of the currently under construction Springfield Line, expected to open in late 2013. Sadly, despite a change of government, things haven't improved. The LNP are blaming their own failure to add extra car parking space on the previous government. So, what is still wrong with the Springfield Line?

  • Extremely limited car parking spaces at Springfield (200) and Springfield Central (100) stations. Given the highly unlikely chance of even half-decent (15 minutes frequency or better) feeder bus services serving the urban sprawl of Springfield, Springfield Lakes and suburbs beyond (including Brookwater and Redbank Plains), it is likely that the car parks could be full by around 7am! This will just continue to force Springfield commuters to continue driving to the CBD.
  • No station at Ellen Grove. Building a new station at the same time is far cheaper and less disruptive than building the station years or decades later. It would also take some pressure of Richland station's car park which usually fills up before 8am. 
  • Poor off-peak train service. If the Springfield Line was built in Perth, Melbourne, or Sydney, it would have a 15 minute off-peak service. Current plans are for a paltry 30 minute off-peak frequency to Springfield. Only in SE Queensland, is $475m spent on extending a train line, and then a completely unattractive train service operated! 
It seems that LNP government are continuing on with the ALPs plans to make the Springfield Line a failure from the outset. With a recent press release about the adding an extra lane to the Centenary Highway, and removing a planned cycle way in the process, it seems that the LNP have lost the plot when it comes to sustainable transport planning. This isn't the 1960s Campbell!

Is this Campbell Newman's vision for the Centenary Highway?