Sydney’s bus future

Posted: December 13, 2013 in Transport
Tags: , , , ,

13 rapid bus routes featuring high frequencies all day and with stops as far as 1km apart are to be created in coming years as part of a state government initiative to revamp Sydney’s bus network. These will be supplemented by an additional 20 suburban routes, with retain the traditional 400m stop spacing and often act as feeder services to heavy rail, light rail, or rapid bus routes. Altogether, 1.5m people will live within a 10 minute walk of a bus stop for one of these 33 routes, while 90% of Sydney’s population will remain within 400m of a bus stop.

Proposed rapid and suburban bus routes for Sydney. Click to enlarge. (Source: Sydney Bus Future, pp. 18-19)

Proposed rapid and suburban bus routes for Sydney. Click to enlarge. (Source: Sydney Bus Future, pp. 18-19)

Longer stop spacing will allow for faster journeys. For example, the duration of a trip from Ryde to the CBD would drop from 37 minutes to 25-30 minutes. But it would require some passengers to walk further to reach the nearest bus stop, sometimes 400m-600m further.

Frequencies would also be guaranteed between the hours of 6AM and 7PM, with 5-10 minute frequencies in the weekday peak and 10-15 minute frequencies in the weekday off-peak or weekends. Currently, only metrobuses offer this sort of frequency guarantee, and then only run at 20 minute frequencies in the evening and on weekends.

Though most of Sydney is within 400m of public transport (left), only small parts of it are close to frequenct transport all day (right). The new rapid and suburban routes will aim to increase this coverage. Click to englarge. (Source: Sydney Alliance.)

Though most of Sydney is within 400m of public transport (left), only small parts of it are close to frequenct transport all day (right). The new rapid and suburban routes will aim to increase this coverage. Click to englarge. (Source: Sydney Alliance.)

This would therefore represent a significant improvement to Sydney’s all day high frequency network, as measured by areas within 400m of a transport service every 15 minutes every day of the week. This network currently exists for parts of Inner Sydney, but is woefully inadequate for most of Western Sydney.

2013-12-12 Rapid and Suburban bus table

Click to enlarge

This all makes a rebranding of Sydney’s buses much more likely. Previously, buses were branded based on the operator. Currently all buses are being given the Transport for NSW sky blue bus colours, except for the red metrobuses and green shuttle buses. This new proposal would convert this into a different 3-tiered system, with rapid, suburban, and local buses.

Buses in Sydney used to be branded based on operator, such as STA (top left) or Hillsbus (top right). Today the are being converted to be branded by purpose, such as shuttle bus (bottom left) or metrobus (bottom right). The next move appears to move to a rapid, suburban, local bus structure. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Buses in Sydney used to be branded based on operator, such as STA (top left) or Hillsbus (top right). Today the are being converted to be branded by purpose, such as shuttle bus (bottom left) or metrobus (bottom right). The next move appears to move to a rapid, suburban, local bus structure. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Bus Rapid Transit is also put forward as a future possibility for 3 corridors: Parramatta Road, Victoria Road, and the Northern Beaches, while the report also suggests a possible extension of the currently under construction light rail line on Anzac Parade South of Kingsford as well as construction of the Western Sydney Light Rail Network proposed by the Parramatta City Council.

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Comments
  1. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Could be very good, could be disastrous. As some said, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. One thing is surprising, they are going to consider extending light rail to Maroubra Junction. This should be a no-brainer – do it now, while the design team is finalizing the details to Kingsford. The route is obvious – in the ex-tramway median – or even to Little Bay. I note though that the development proposals for the area south of Maroubra have been put on hold. However, the tram line should be extended to Maroubra Junction without let or hindrance.

    Suggest checking bus densities along Parramatta Road – this is an obvious candidate for light rail/tramway right now, well before WestConnex is even started.

    Caution – Bus Rapid Transit schemes in the USA have rarely come up to expectations. Usually patronage has fallen far short of that projected. Further, “BRT” is a moniker that covers a vast multitude of sins. It can – at worst and cheapest, be no more than a repainting of the buses and trying to give them a Bus Lane on the approach to traffic lights, together with a Bus early start. Providing BRT at its best, with a fully or near fully segregated route – bus lanes with no interruptions for side streets, idiots who park in them, full priority at traffic lights, full pre-pay ticketting, and good average speeds, similar to the conditions one expects of light rail, is usually close to being as expensive as light rail so far as capital cost is concerned, and far more expensive operationally, owing to the greater number of vehicles and drivers.

    Historical note: London had a similar system – the Green Line coach services. This was an express service, stopping at major stops only. However, as traffic increased, the service got worse, and London Transport did little – or was prevented from doing much – to expedite the service via bus lanes, etc. Result, patronage disappeared and the service was abandoned.

  2. Simon says:

    I didn’t see that table which specifies the frequency of the suburban routes in the Sydney’s Bus Future? Where’s it from?

  3. @Simon

    I made the table, using information from the Sydney’s Bus Future document (page 15 for frequencies).

  4. Simon says:

    More generally, this is an unexpectedly positive step. However, failing to address the evening frequencies mean that you cannot rely on the service, I say.

    I’m blown away by the plan to have a Maroubra Junction limited stops service layered against full running all stop 396, 399 and 392 services. That’s just retarded.

  5. Simon says:

    Righto Bambul. Those frequencies out of peak are only “Medium term” goals, whatever that means. Note that peak hour rapid only promises 10 minute frequency – 5 minute wait unless I’ve missed something.

  6. Simon says:

    Just to clarify the above, 11 rapid routes are to upgraded to high(er) frequency in the “Short term”, 20 suburban routes are to increase in peak hour in the short term, 2 rapid routes are to be implemented in the “medium term” and 20 suburban routes out of peak frequencies will be upgraded in the “medium term”.

    I interpret “short term” = before next election, medium term = after next election.

  7. @Simon

    FYI:

    Short term = 0-5 years
    Medium term = 6-10 years
    Long term = 11-20 years

  8. MrV says:

    About time, some of the stops are far too close together, and when 1 person gets out only for the bus to stop again at the next intersection 200m away for someone else to get out is infuriating.
    Provided the stops take account of where the elderly/disabled in society might be going, such as hospitals, aged care facility etc then I don’t see the problem.
    In fact looking at the girth of people these days a bit of extra walking (waddling) would do society some good.

  9. Simon says:

    bambul, are those time frames official? If so, they can do nothing before the next election and say they are still on schedule.

  10. Ray says:

    I find it hard to believe that the frequent and heavily used cross regional bus service from Parramatta to Chatswood via Dundas/Telopea, Eastwood and Macquarie Park (Routes 545, 550) doesn’t even rate a mention as a Suburban route. Is this an attempt to bolster the m54 service via Carlingford and Epping to Macquarie Park, which is less direct and longer (with the congestion consequences getting through the Epping Town Centre)? The only saving grace is that it acknowledges the future possibility of a more direct Light Rail route from Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Eastwood as part of the Western Sydney Light Rail Project proposed by Parramatta City Council.

  11. Simon says:

    Perhaps it doesn’t need to be. It already runs at 15 minute frequency weekday daytimes. I guess the weekends could be upgraded.

    At least this report has nothing planned to be broken, unlike the previous two.

  12. Tim says:

    There’s a small typo in the original blog.
    “… additional 20 suburban routes, with retain the traditional 400m stop spacing …”
    should be “which retain”

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