Boxing Day buses at Chadstone, 2022

Boxing Day is probably the single busiest shopping day of the year at many of the big department stores and shopping centres, and I’ve taken a look at Chadstone and how its public transport copes several times in recent years: 2019; 2018; 2017.

I went for a look again this year.

From what I can see, there’s been no substantial change to bus provision, just some tweaking by the looks of it.

  • Standard public holiday services on most routes – hourly on most of them; half-hourly on the two Smartbus routes.
  • Smartbus 903 diverted away from Chadstone, with shuttle connectors from Oakleigh station, and extra services from Burwood
  • I can’t find any information about it, but I did see a shuttle from East Malvern station. (This notice is from 2020)
Heavy traffic on Warrigal Road near Chadstone, Boxing Day 2022

Warrigal Road was packed with traffic.

They did have some bus priority measures for the turn into Middle Road (shown below), but buses were getting stuck further north.

A bus slows to merge into a priority turning lane into Chadstone, Boxing Day 2022

A bus priority lane on Middle Road was being widely ignored, with other vehicles using it. What are those bollards for? Let’s just drive around them, they don’t apply to me.

Cars merge into the bus priority lane entering Chadstone, Boxing Day 2022

At 3pm the bus interchange itself was busy with people, though not as crowded as previous occasions. One media report said they were expecting 120,000 visitors on the day – down from 170,000 in 2017.

A customer service rep from Kinetic was there, and to their credit knew about routes other than just Kinetic’s routes.

That couldn’t make up for the fact that many of the buses were crowded, and delayed.

I observed some younger passengers altering their plans depending on which bus arrived first, which is possible if you’re connecting to a rail line, as different buses run to different stations. Smart thinking, but how many people do that?

Overall though? Much the same as previous years.

Crowds board a route 900 bus at Chadstone on Boxing Day 2022

What I wrote in 2019 still applies.

They’ve got to get away from the thinking that a few shuttles to nearby stations is enough. It helps, but what is really needed is boosting services on all the local routes into Chadstone (as a starting point, just run the weekday service frequencies) and wider use of bus priority.

Public transport should be at its best moving lots of people. The crowds in the bus interchange and on the buses are evidence that people will use buses to go shopping.

Longer term, the proposed light rail or trackless tram could help, but only if it’s built in such a way as to keep hapless motorists off the tracks – and really it’s about the service quality (frequency, operating hours, reliability) more than the mode.

It is self-evident that there’s a whole lot of travel demand for big centres like Chadstone, not just on Boxing Day but every weekend of the year. As it stands though, with mostly infrequent buses stuck in traffic, public transport is missing a huge chunk of this travel. It’s just not even trying to compete for customers.

  • Related: Yours truly talking to 3AW this morning about public transport patronage – it’s back to nearly pre-pandemic levels, except for the traditional CBD commuter peaks. But can the system adapt to meet demand?

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.

7 replies on “Boxing Day buses at Chadstone, 2022”

In NSW the police would be down on that bus lane abuse pretty quickly once the drivers had reported it. Perfect spot for a radar trap. Thanks for the very instructive video of the bus loading and unloading. A contrast to the pathetic situation in NSW with the front door loading. Now that you’ve got that foot in the door (so to speak) down there, the next step is to move onto seeking a change in the bus design to better enable that. You can see how long the bus takes to load and unload through that single-leaf, single file door. Mandating double-leaf doors would speed up the flow to at least a zipper file. Even better, as now becoming popular in Europe, is outward-opening plug doors on the centre doors, thus widening the opening even further and enabling two-abreast like on a modern tram. You already have buses with double-leaf plug doors in Victoria in the form of the Custom Denning Element electric buses in Sunbury, worth checking out in a crowd as an example. The Volvo BZL electrics being used elsewhere in Melbourne only have the usual inward-folding doors, although both those and the Custom Dennings have the important advance of a fully low floor, better for encouraging people to distribute smoothly through the bus.

Segregated light rail should only have regular “train” tracks on ballast like Kings Way, Dandenong Rd etc., not tram tracks laid on a road surface with only a rounded speed hump of a kerb trying to stop cars from getting in the way, either make the kerbs 30cm high with those wobbling plastic barriers like the tram stops on Bridge Rd, or start installing car-destroying bollards if/when the barriers fail.

Obviously there isn’t much of a choice when trams have to share traffic lanes, aside from converting dozens more intersections to use hook turns, much to the chagrin of Sydneysiders, less right-turn/U-turn crossings between intersections (and removing the lesser-used tram stops that are 100-200m apart from the next), faster traffic signals e.g. not 60+ seconds stuck at a red light, and more tram priority/T lights. Cars can wait, especially with the move to EVs which aren’t spewing fumes at idle (yeah, some cars might automatically turn the engine off when stopped, but not all do, especially utes/trucks etc.)

Like tram priority, it is all about political will. If PTV and VicRoads is directed and funded, it will happen. I think in the lead up to Christmas in the past, you posted about how buses stopped servicing Chadstone because of traffic congestion. It doesn’t sound as bad this year. In the Warrigal Road photo it appears cars should not be in the lane they are in, only the right hand lane before it becomes two right turn lanes. The most right turn lane should be dedicated bus lane with a B light to get ahead of other turning traffic. I note the lack of traffic in the through lanes in Warrigal Road, so why can’t one of those lanes be utilised too. The same in the Middle Road photo. Cars should not be in the dedicated bus lane but as it is not permanent and seems rather unmarked in the photo, why would cars not use it? Of course it below the dignity of our police force to control traffic but it once did.

While Sydney did not look at Melbourne for how to build and run trams, we should look at Sydney and how it prioritises buses where they are heavily used. But I expect Melbourne already has the knowledge. I refer back to first sentence.

Probably won’t help in this situation but more for the general scheme of things, but with more passengers returning to buses, perhaps they should return to single flow boarding, i.e. front boarding and rear alighting.

In this situation I do think bus lane enforcement should be a thing.

Arfman, single flow boarding is slower and less efficient than all-door boarding, the latter becoming increasingly universal around the world because of this. Watch this:

However, the vehicles need to be designed for it. So far, Australian cities, apart from Sydney and Perth, tend to order buses with single-leaf (narrow) centre doors, often with stairs in them as well. You can see the single-file effect of that in Daniel’s video. Check out the Custom Denning Element electrics in Sunbury to see the optimum development of the centre door, with double width and plug doors, enabling two-abreast boarding and alighting.×608.jpg

The Element also has a completely stepless floor, facilitating and removing all barriers to internal passenger flow.

We need the best in bus design, to bring the bus fleet onto a par with trams and trains in terms of functionality.

Yep I’m with TonyP on this. Single door boarding only works if the number of people boarding and alighting at each stop is very balanced. This might possibly be the case at the Chadstone interchange around the middle of the day, but at most times won’t be. All-door boarding (even with the narrow doors on most of the Melbourne bus fleet) is more efficient, and also helps distribute passengers more effectively around the bus.

Officially, all-door boarding is rolled-out across all Myki bus routes, though in practice most passengers continue to use the front door, especially at quieter stops – in part because the change hasn’t been spectacularly well communicated.

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