Melbourne’s Smart Bus operator Transdev (who once ran the trains under the name Connex) has proposed changes to Melbourne’s orbital bus routes. Most of the routes will be broken up and will run to a higher frequency in some sections and to a lower frequency in other sections.

Now, I am not opposed to lowing the frequency in some sections of the orbital routes, especially where they would theoretically connect with trains which run every 20 minutes. It does not work to run the bus every 15 minutes because for half the time an adequate train connection would be impossible.

But what did catch my attention was this line on the Transdev website and I will attempt to examine the truthfulness of the claim:

Better train connections with bus timetables adjusted to meet train timetable frequencies.”

Starting with route 901, proposed to run between Frankston Station and The Pines shopping centre along Stud Road.

Transdev say this route will have a peak frequency of every 10 minutes which is an adequate enough service level to connect with trains at Frankston, Dandenong and Ringwood, but out of peak the route would run every 15 minutes with trains currently running every 10 on the Dandeong and Frankston lines. This would not be an adequate train to bus connection.

Route 902 would run from Chelsea Station to Doncaster Shoppingtown along Springvale Road and would run to the same service level as the 901 and connect with the same lines with the addition of Glen Waverley. As above, it would connect adequately with trains in peak, but there would not be an adequate train to bus connection out of peak except at Glen Waverley.

Route 903, the most important route, from Mordialloc Station to Northland Shopping Centre along Warrigal Road would run every 7.5 minutes in peak (presumably without a public timetable). This route would connect adequately with trains on the Frankston, Dandenong, Glen Waverley, Ringwood and Hurstbridge lines in peak, but as with the others, its service level drops to every 15 minutes out of peak which prohibits adequate connections with trains except at Box Hill in the early afternoon and at Holmesglen.

Route 911 from Box Hill to Airport West Shopping Centre through South Morang (when the ferals have not caused a diversion) is the first of the lowered service level routes. This route would not run to a Smart Bus frequency with a service only every 20 minutes, however, this does allow an adequate connection with trains at Greensborough, South Morang, Epping, Roxburgh Park, Coolaroo and Broadmeadows, especially out of peak, as these lines only run every 20 minutes. But forget about using it on the weekend. It would run every 30 minutes on Saturday (no adequate train connection) and every 40 minutes on Sunday (connects with every second or fourth train theoretically).

Route 912 from “ Box Hill to Airport West Shopping Centre” will actually run from Doncaster Shoppingtown to Melbourne Airport (a mistake on Transdev’s part). This route will run to the same service level as the 911, theoretically providing an adequate train connection during the week at Greensborough, Keon Park and Broadmeadows stations, but not on the weekend.

Route 913 from Northland Shopping Centre to Essendon Station would run every 15 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes on the weekend prohibiting entirely an adequate train connection out of peak and on the weekends at Preston and Essendon and always at Coburg.

And finally, route 933 from Essendon Station to Altona Station through Sunshine, the western suburbs’ only Smart Bus. This route would run every 20 minutes in peak, adequate enough for those transferring from bus to train at Essendon and Sunshine and for those transferring from train to bus or bus to train at Altona, but out of peak the route would only run every 30 minutes, completely in contradiction of Transdev’s claim that the changes would see “better train connections with bus timetables adjusted to meet train timetable frequencies.”

I have provided two tables for your convenience.

Adequate bus to train connection?

Route

Peak

Out of peak

Saturday

Sunday

901

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

902

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

903

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

911

Yes

Yes

No

Yes*

912

Yes

Yes

No

Yes*

913

Yes

No

No

No

933

Yes

No

Yes*

Yes*

*40-minute service level

Adequate train to bus connection?

Route

Peak

Out of peak

Saturday

Sunday

901

Yes

No

Yes*

Yes*

902

Yes

No

Yes*

Yes*

903

Yes

No

Yes

Yes*

911

No

Yes*

No

No

912

No

Yes*

No

No

913

No

No

No

No

933

No**

No

No

No

*Every second train

**Connection possible at Altona

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