Toxic Custard newsletter transport

Quicker to wait for the hourly bus, or walk?

Last weekend I tried an experiment, for a PTUA video

In the highly marginal electorate of Bentleigh, having just missed the bus, is it quicker to wait for the next service, or walk to Southland?

Given walking speeds and a five kilometre distance, perhaps the answer (at least for reasonably fit, able-bodied people) is obvious…

More frequent weekend buses is easy. Most of the bus fleet sits around in depots all weekend. As with more frequent off-peak and weekend trains and trams, the only costs would be fuel, maintenance and drivers.

Labor has pledged to re-route this bus — the 822 — onto the main roads, which would help with travel times. But it’s not clear if that would include other network changes in the area, or more frequent services — this is one of many bus routes which is still less frequent in peak hour and on Saturday mornings than it was 25 years ago.

Thanks to Jeremy for help with the camera.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

18 replies on “Quicker to wait for the hourly bus, or walk?”

You mention that following the bus route is no the quickest way when you are walking. What is the quickest route?

Bit like me here, I often find that it is quicker to walk. It is perhaps 800m from my nearest bus stop and the Narre Warren Railway station. Most of the time I do not bother looking at the timetable nor at my watch, although there have been some times when I do.

I get a half hourly service on route #895. Next stop after me is Narre Warren R/S, and the next after that is Fountain Gate S/C. a route I have walked more than gone by bus.

A friend had to walk 50 minutes to get home on the Frankston Line due to a police operation, not sure if there is way to get down there apart from taking the no.3 tram to Hawthorn Rd and then No.64 to the equivalent distance and walking back.

@Tom, if you look at the map, the bus turns down Rowans Road to reach Nepean Highway, whereas walking or cycling (or driving for that matter) you can switch to Chesterville Road; it’s more direct. In fact Google Maps suggests using Barbara Street if walking, as the angle it runs at means you save a bit more time.

Nick Staikos has elaborated a little on this now. Firstly, if Labor wins, there will be community consultation before any changes to the 822 proceed. Secondly, the 822 change in East Bentleigh is now intended to include the rerouting of route 701 to run on the streets where the 822 currently runs between North Rd and Centre Rd .

Another option would be Wickam Rd, Wannian St (the walkway shown on the Melway between Rowans Rd and Wannian Rd does not exist), Highet Reserve, and Tennyson St to get to Shouthland. Does google have walking paths in its walking calculations?

@Tom – I think you’re wrong. The walkway does exist. I recently walked to Southland from East Boundary Road via Rowans Road, the walkway to Wannan St, through Highett Reserve and then Tennyson St to Southland.

@Rod is correct. I noticed the walkway while filming. You can see the entrance on Google Streetview.

However it’s not as good a shortcut as Barbara Street, as by this time you’ve already followed a deviation of Rowan’s Road that takes you by a longer route to Southland.

I obviously did not look hard enough at Google Earth.

Good point about the deviation in Rowans Rd.

If you crossed the road, you could have caught the bus in the opposite direction to Chadstone. It leaves 10 minutes after the Southland bus, and I’m sure you’d find all the same shops there!

Supposedly it is about 1km to Caulfield Station from my place or I can take a tram, by the time I walk there a tram is usually just passing me. If I go to catch a tram, I see it leaving just as I get to the tram stop.

Most recently I have been walking from my place down Bambra Rd to catch the No. 67 to the end of the line and then walking up Koornang Rd to catch the No. 3 back. I used to walk home to Murrumbeena Rd from either the 67 or 3 when I would get it home even late at night.

I have been walking down to Elsternwick and getting the tram back when I go to the Flying Saucer Club. Also there is the No. 900 bus that ends up arriving at Caulfield Station the same time as the train (due to going through Chadstone SC) but I don’t like getting the train late at night on weekends.

There is always a walk at the start or end of your journey when you are taking public transport as it is.

Weekend bus services are often ridiculous. Then abandoned a lot of services (timetabling, routing, delays) are ridiculous to begin with. I am aware of moves within PTV to slowly improve things, but, slowly I think is the point. And with little funding.

Part of the reason people don’t respect buses as a useful transportation option, or even discount PT entirely is because they don’t perceive permanency and a sense of redundancy or control. If you have a car and drive it somewhere, no matter what you have you car (it isn’t stolen, okay? :P) and can drive around road incidents. If you catch the train, many know they run relatively often and late into the night. They also can’t really deviate much. I think this is the same reason that people think teams are okay. Because they serve busier inner areas and almost entirely have a high level of service, late night service and weekend service, and are prominent in the environment without the ability to deviate much from the route, people feel more comfortable.

Where am I going? People don’t see buses like that. Our government has up until recently always ignored buses, and the public responded accordingly. They aren’t prominent, there are so many and they have complicated routes and deviations, odd times, don’t run frequently, or all day, or late at night, or have poor or no weekend service. Smartbus has been successful (only compared with other bus services) because it is more prominent with known routes, frequencies and high levels of service at all times of the (transport) day/night. Most people won’t investigate the possibility of using a bus, because of the efforts outlined, as it is seen as unreliable and impermanent, and if there is a problem, or the bus runs early and you miss it, or there is no bus when you get stuck and have to go home later in the night than assumed, then there is no redundancy. Of course, right now, many bus routes are “okay” but because of route and also operational policy decisions, the experience users see is actually pretty crap.

From this: better weekend service is critical to get people to see buses as a viable transport mode. And better service at all times of the day. Overall offering a welcoming experience, and one where delays and unexpected problems are not common. Only when the public demand that good services are offered and maintained will politicians care about buses for votes. And only when the government supplies a good service will more people care about its existence or using it. Beating a bus by walking 5 km is sadly a reality, and it shouldn’t be!

It’s by far quicker to walk from Vermont South to Ringwood than wait forever for the 742 or take up to two hours messing around with the 75 tram, 902 bus and Lilydale/Belgrave trains, with the majority of time being wasted at the Springvale Road bus stop and then Nunawading station. If they discontinued this bus service tomorrow, I wouldn’t even notice, since I spend more time walking to and from there than actually having a bus to catch. In fact, if the entire Ventura Group vanished into thin air tomorrow, I wouldn’t even notice; between them and Transdev I really don’t know who is worse, it’s like they are deliberately holding back on services just in case the rival sues for being anti-competitive (think petrol prices – BP/Shell/Caltex would sue the pants of 7-Eleven if they didn’t do the 20c jump every time it happens).

Buses should be running the same hours and frequency as trains and trams, regardless of the amount of passengers using the service. It’s the whole chicken or egg problem, otherwise known as the Flagstaff on Sunday problem – no-one uses buses because they practically don’t run.

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