Just a quick one as I’ve been very busy, and have also had a bad cold, so haven’t felt like much writing.
The next lot of major bustitution is upon us from Saturday morning, and including all of next week: no trains between the City and Caulfield.
You’ll recall that at Easter, this was a complete mess.
Have they learnt from that? Yes, I’m told they looked very closely at how it went, though they’re sticking with the strategy of funnelling most people into Caulfield, then bussing them from there.
Why? Because, they say, they know what went wrong, including during that looooong trip on the Monday morning:
- What should have happened is that terminating trains used platforms 1 and 3. Frankston into platform 1, with passengers directed to a bus queue at the NW end of the station, going to the Arts Centre; Dandenong into platform 3, passengers directed to a bus queue at the SW end, buses to Federation Square
- But Frankston trains arriving into platform 1 were delayed leaving again due to crowding on the platform.
- Train controllers made the fateful decision to terminate some onto platform 2 instead, to keep trains moving.
- This resulted in large numbers of people ending up in the one queue, and consequently long delays there, and on buses approaching Federation Square.
- Bus drivers only have training for their specific route (they’re often brought in from far afield, so don’t necessarily know the local road system), so they couldn’t divert resources to the Fed Square route, nor could they divert some buses away from Fed Square to avoid traffic snarls
Okay, fair enough, let’s assume the root cause was a lack of staff clearing platform 1. They can fix that.
But that doesn’t explain why they let the queue for buses to Fed Square get out of control. Why didn’t they divert some of the crowds to the other queue?
They could also brief the bus drivers on both routes, and the options connecting them, for more operational flexibility. Sounds like this time they will divert buses if the Fed Square route clogs up.
And it doesn’t explain why the long delays for buses getting out of Caulfield across Princes Highway, nor why the Federation Square bus route was still a mess throughout that week.
To be fair, they say they’ll try harder this time to quickly clear incoming buses out of Fed Square, and deploying Variable Message Signs to encourage other traffic to avoid parts of that route, to try and keep things moving.
They’re also going to try express buses from Cranbourne and Pakenham all the way into the City (inbound AM peak only), to try and reduce loads closer in. It’ll still be a long journey in the traffic.
And for Dandenong line users they’ll have contingency plans if the line clogs up, offering the option of a bus connection from Oakleigh to Darling on the Glen Waverley line. They may also deploy buses to Moorabbin.
But they’ve resisted the idea of funnelling large numbers of passengers onto other lines by default, as it may just cause crowding and delays to spread more widely.
There also seems to be no consideration to also boosting regular crosstown route buses to neighbouring rail lines – though they did tell me they’d watch for people left behind, and try to boost tram capacity. Tram 67 and bus route 630 seemed to be the worst affected last time.
I also know they’ll continue to monitor closely each day and tweak things where possible. I don’t expect this will be the last big shut down for the metro tunnel, so they do need to keep working at improving things.
Let’s see what happens on Monday morning.