Monday, April 9, 2018

GC2018 - Disgrace Shuttle Continues

Only 300m to go!
 With the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) now into its 5th day of competition, BrizCommuter takes a look to see how transport is coping.

Due to the scare campaign ahead of the games, the M1 has surprisingly managed quite well. It has been busy at times, but traffic still moving at between 90-100kph. Maybe that second M1 isn't so urgent after all?

Queensland Rail's Gold Coast Line service has been quite successful, with the 8tph service managing the crowds well. Reliability has been reasonably good, with only a few delays circa 15 minutes. However, it does seem that TransLink are not reporting all of the known Gold Coast Line delays, and have been caught out changing the wording to not mention the Gold Coast Line (e.g. a delay on a "Domestic Airport to Varsity Lakes" service was shown as a delay on a "Domestic Airport to Roma Street" service).

Unfortunately, due to the enhanced Gold Coast Line services, the rest of QR's network is suffering. Overcrowding has been reported on multiple lines due to the reduced peak services. Hourly weekend services have been a great annoyance to Brisbane workers, and also those who want to connect to Gold Coast Line services to get to GC2018 on weekends. In fact despite the disastrous shuttle bus services (later in this blog post), the "drive/park'n'ride/horrific queue" option was still faster than getting the train if you had to connect to/from another train line in Brisbane. A mini-meltdown late on Sunday evening further exacerbated the pain of hourly train services.

The Sunshine Coast Line has also been affected by unreliable ICE trains. Sunshine Coast Line passengers are also not happy with toilet free EMU trains on the long distance services (as the toilet equipped trains have been sent to the Gold Coast Line).

Light Rail (Trams) 
The Gold Coast Light Rail (G: Link) has been dealing with very heavy loading, and suffering from overcrowding, and service bunching as a result. However, BrizCommuter is not aware of any delays of more than 15 minutes (including queuing or extended waits due to full trams). Whilst an increase in frequency from every 6 to 4 minutes would have eliminated these issues, it is doubtful that purchasing more trams would have been a good use of money in the long term.

Shuttle Buses
Only 100m to go!
Unfortunately, the shuttle buses have been where the GC2018 transport plan has fallen on its face. Things haven't improved much since the 2 hour shuttle bus queues at the Opening Ceremony. On Sunday night at Carrara stadium there were social media reports of up to 90 minute waits for Broadbeach and Yatala Park'n'Ride buses. This is despite the stadium emptying gradually over the last hour or so of the Athletics session. There has even been a report of a bus driver going the wrong way and having to be directed to Yatala by passengers. Reports of 60 minute waits at Coomera Sports Centre after the Gymnastics have also been seen on social media.

The unloading and loading procedures were observed to be highly inefficient. Given that Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane manages buses with minimal queues every week, this is very disappointing. Even rollercoaster operators from Movie World could show the shuttle bus staff a thing or two in efficiency! Just in case any GC2018 transport organisers are reading, this is how you operate buses efficiently:
  • Multiple queueing bays/pens for each bus route, each adjacent to a bus parking bay
  • Keep each queueing bay/pen full of at least enough people to fill the next bus 
  • Load buses from each bay simultaneously
  • If buses have two sets of doors, load via both sets of doors. 
  • Have buses in constant supply, so that each parking bay is filled quickly by the next bus (short headway)
  • Buses moving in convoy can often help with the above (i.e. if you have 3 bays, the 3 buses arrive and depart in convoy). 
  • Have staff who understand efficient operations. 
With 7 days to go of GC2018, there needs to be an urgent review of shuttle bus operations. Shuttle bus delays have ruined an otherwise good day for many visitors and staff. Some visitors are avoiding buying tickets to more events as they just can't deal with the shuttle bus queues! 

A Few Other Thoughts
  • Many businesses on the Gold Coast are complaining about lack of patronage. Unfortunately the reliance of Park'n'Ride/shuttle bus topology, and the Gold Coast Line as a backbone, means that passengers bypass almost all businesses.  
  • The shuttle bus chaos shows that having a stadium beyond easy walking distance of high capacity public transport (i.e. heavy rail) is not a good idea. The 2.3km walk between Carrara Stadium and Nerang Station may be fine for fit young and middle aged people, but for families, the elderly, and staff/volunteers that have just finished a 10 hour shift, it is too much.


  1. Continual improvement has happened. All points you listed for buses was implemented after Swimming on the evening of the 10th. Buses from every source imaginable, including private school buses and those "sight-seeing" buses (including some sight-seeing ones) were in service. There were clear bays for people to wait. They separated the "offloading" and "loading" bays so that there was only one direction of people, and one bus could be loading while another was still offloading people. The buses did run in convoy, they also had multiple staff proactively informing people and double checking patrons were in the right lanes. The Helensvale train station staff and procedures were particularly efficient.

    The train frequency from GC to BNE of a morning has been surprisingly busy. I'd recommend this should be the standard frequency in the 6am to 8am (leaving from GC) peak, and 4pm to 6:30 peak.

    The only big down side has been the NGR fleet are very hot with patrons all clearly sweating even though the doors have been shut most of the journey. The NGR is, however, MUCH quieter.

    1. What about the brakes on the NGR?


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