Sunday, January 31, 2016

Quirky Council Election Promises

Rubber-Tyred Metro in Paris
There must be an election coming when both sides of politics (LNP and ALP) are promising public transport infrastructure. In this case the promises are from the candidates for Brisbane City Council's (BCC) Lord Mayor - LNP's Graham Quirk and ALP's Rod Harding.

Before we look at their 2016 council election promises, if BrizCommuter was to be Lord Mayor there would be two major public transport policies:
  • Bus network reform - fix the current inefficient and confusing to use bus network with a simplified network, more high frequency coverage, consistent CBD "super stops" for each transport corridor, and rail feeder services - cost neutral.
  • Support Cross River Rail - to increase rail capacity into the CBD, with two completely new stations - BCC would need to fund a share of costs.
So what have the mayoral candidates proposed?

Graham Quirk (LNP)

  • Conversion of the Inner Northern Busway and SE Busway to "rubber-tyred metro" between Herston and Wooloongabba. (Unlike nearly all new mini-metro systems, this will apparently not be a driverless metro).
  • Victoria Bridge would become a "Green Bridge" carrying buses and metro trains. 
  • Underground Cultural Centre station. 
  • Bus routes would feed the metro.
BrizCommuter's thoughts:
  • Would decrease journey times between the metro stations as long as the frequency is high at all times of the day. However, this may not be case due to non-driverless labor costs. 
  • Would not significantly increase capacity through the inner busway system (approx. 15,000 passengers/hour/direction, 50% of the media claim), though loadings may be more even.
  • Does not serve major trip generators on Brisbane's inner busway system - UQ and RBWH (it would annoyingly stop one stop short of the latter). 
  • Would force an additional change just outside of the CBD for passengers who currently have a direct bus route to the CBD. This could increase journey times for these commuters. (Note: BrizCommuter supports trunk and feeder networks, but with changes in suburbs, not on the edge of the CBD).
  • Some displaced bus routes (e.g. 444, 385, Maroon CityGlider) would have to be re-routed through the CBD on roads, with longer journey times due to traffic congestion.
  • Would require significant bus terminus infrastructure at bus/metro change locations - Wooloongabba (it is assumed Eastern and SE Busway services would be routed here), Roma Street, Normanby, and Herston. 
  • There would be 6 years of busway disruption and delays during construction. 
  • No obvious depot location. 
  • Inconsistent with long term government plans for a Brisbane metro.
  • $1.54b cost seems unrealistic. 
  • Grade - D - Replacing part of the busway system with metro is likely to have a poor cost/benefit ratio, though this may be better if the entire busway network was converted with extensions (and gaps filled in). This election plan may cause more transport issues than what it solves. Just fix the bus network Mr Quirk! 
Rod Harding (ALP)

  • Light rail/tram system running from Newstead to West End, and possibly UQ via new bridge. 
BrizCommuter's thoughts:
  • Proposal currently lacking any detail.
  • Could potentially be extended to Northshore Hamilton via Kingsford Smith Drive.
  • Trams and buses would have to share some roads through CBD. 
  • No obvious depot location.
  • Current plan does not directly solve any major transport issues. 
  • Grade - E - Looks like it was designed on the back of paper napkin to capture the over 60's votes.

Both plans are ill thought out, vote grabbing ideas, that do little to solve Brisbane's most pressing transport issues. BCC needs to leave public transport planning to the state government. 

Old BrizCommuter post on converting busways to light rail:


  1. Wouldn't it be awful if any of the top three parties talked about something which could actually happen.

  2. The LNP plan hurts me the most. Because at it's core, it's a bunch of good ideas packaged up with some spectacularly bad ones.

    The good
    1) widen the busway between Cultural Centre and Queen Street Stations (by removing cars from Victoria Bridge).
    2) upgrade the corridor between Cultural Centre and Southbank from Class B to Class A
    3) implied reorganisation of the bus network.

    The bad
    1) ripping up a perfectly good busway to convert it to a different technology with about the same capacity and worse frequency.

    Leaving aside any questions about buses vs trains, the single biggest weakness of the busway network is that in the stretch where all the different Class A corridors come together, the system is just Class B. That is, the capacity in the central segment is actually LESS than each of the individual corridors feeding into it. Fixing this is such a good idea.

    The second biggest weakness is network organisation. Fixing this is such a good idea as well (and probably not expensive either).

    Shame we can't do anything good withing having to bolt on something fancy and new and unnecessary just so that there is a ribbon to cut.


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