Two links today about frequency of transport in Sydney. Both talk about 15 minute frequencies, and routes that maintain that level of frequency all day every day. I’m not sure how the 15 minute frequency was agreed on as the right amount, as opposed to say 10 minutes or 20 minutes (I’ve heard stories of Hong Kong commuters spitting the dummy when they discover that the next train is a whole 4 minutes away, so I guess it’s all relative). But as a rule of thumb, I think 15 minutes is frequent enough that you can afford to turn up to your bus stop or train station without having to worry about a timetable, so long as you’re not in a rush.
The first is by Jarret Walker from Human Transit, which shows maps of buses, trains, ferries and the light rail in Sydney based on their frequency (60, 30 or 15 minutes). It has a layout much like a transit map, so is not to scale with the actual city, but gives you a good idea of the routes. I noticed a few inaccuracies (in particular in the rail network with some stations on the Western and South Lines which have 15 minute frequencies all day on both weekdays and weekends but are shown as having less than 15 minute frequencies), but overall it’s quite a good visual guide. A number of maps are shown – I’ve included one above.
The other is from the Western Sydney Public Transport Users blog, which shows a map of Western Sydney with transport frequencies. Each map shows 60, 30 and 15 minute frequencies and what area of Western Sydney is within 400m of public transport. Bus routes are seen as long rectangular shapes following the route, while train stations are a radius around the station.
These maps come from a presentation given by the Sydney Alliance, a coalition of churches, trade unions and community groups that is pushing for (amongst other things) improved public transport. Their slogan is for transport that is no more than 400m from your home/work, comes at least every 15 minutes, can be taken with just 1 ticket and is safe, clean, accessible and affordable, which shortens to a catchy 400:15:1:SCA2.
Again, there a few things I might take issue with. One is the exclusion of metro bus routes which, even though they technically don’t meet the criteria, I think are frequent enough (they run at 20 minute intervals on weekends but 10-15 minutes during the week). Another is having a radius of only 400m around train stations, when people are willing to walk further to a train station than a bus stop (and is why 800m is usually used for train stations). However, technically speaking, the maps are correct based on the criteria used, and give a different (but still correct) visual representation of frequency in Sydney.
I only wish I could see a similar map for the Eastern Suburbs or the Inner West, which actually do have quite a few 15 minute frequencies (or often better) all day.