Questions and Answers with Jim Betts

  mjja Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Mount Waverley, Melbourne
I have made a new thread for this discussion. Sorry for mucking you up everyone, I'll transfer all the questions which haven't been answered.

For reference, the old thread was here:

The conditions of this thread are:
1) Time is limited. We don't want Jim to spend all his time talking to us and none on looking after the system. Therefore, each person will be allowed to ask one question at a time. The moderators will make sure nobody hogs the thread.

2) No leading or loaded questons will be allowed. This thread is for those genuinely seeking information.

3) Discussion should be kept to a minimum. If you want to answer another person's question, do it by PM unless it's very brief. If you want to discuss a related issue, start another thread. This condition has a bit of give in it, ask a moderator if you're unsure.

I think that's it. On with the talking!

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  mjja Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Mount Waverley, Melbourne
Questions from Meltrip:
Jim, I'd like clarification of a couple of points:

Vinelander - thanks for your question

MOTC gives us an extra $120m per annum in recurrent funding for metro bus services; we build up to that level of incremental funding steadily over the next 4-5 years.

This will enable us to put in place a 330km largely orbital SmartBus network by 2011, operating at approx 15 minute frequencies (5.00am to midnight) on weekdays and though the weekend at approx 30 minute frequencies.
"Jim Betts"

1. Is the 15 minute frequency an average throughout the day (ie 10 min peak, 15 off-peak and 30 night) or a level that will be maintained up to the last service at midnight?

2.  Do you support harmonised headways for all bus routes, ie if trains are every 15 min, primary bus routes are every 15 min and secondary routes every 30 min to ensure reliable connections? (or if trains are 20 min, buses 20 or 40)

3. Given the claim that Smartbuses will reliably connect with trains, do you consider it reasonable that Smartbus service levels should match trains, ie 20 instead of 30 minutes on weekends?  

3a. If the answer to the above indicates that resources are a problem, has thought been given to rationalising other routes and/or truncating underused sections (eg Mentone - Mordialloc sections of 700) to release resources?    

4. What is the rationale for tiny local routes serving the back streets of Brighton or Yarraville (which have no major trip generators and are walking distance to trains/trams) having service superior to Smartbus routes serving major trip generators (eg 700)?

The trick is not just to throw incremental resources at the system, but to work with councils and operators to redesign routes and stopping patterns/locations to maximise community benefit and (crucially) timetabled connections with trains, trams & SmartBus.  

A very important point since in the past some local area service changes have been the former with lacklusture results.

5. I'd like to flesh out what 'work with' means in more detail.  

* Assuming local councils and DPT support a particular resource-neutral service change as being in the public interest, but the operator doesn't, can they be compelled to comply (given that 80%+ of their funding is from taxpayers)?    

* Can the Department require that operators drop certain routes provided that the operator is not disadvantaged (eg additional funding for another of their routes) in the interests of network efficiency and service where it's more needed?  

6. Do you propose Transperth-style area-wide route consultations when changes are being planned?  Will input be sought from groups like the PTUA?

Of these, about 160 routes will be operating at 30 minute frequencies or better  

7.  Where a 30 minute frequency is chosen, will this service level only be used at times where this is compatible with trains (ie Burnley & Caulfield groups only during weekday interpeak and at nights network-wide).  


  station street Chief Commissioner

Before, I get started, I msut ask a simple but breif question: (Only because I'm un aware, not because I'm questioning your source) what's your position?

Anyway -

1) Is anything likely to happen in the near future to the platform capacity problems at Flinders Street? (For example, the way the Northern Group is restricted to one platform in peak)

2) Is there mcuh hope for a speed increase to either / both of the tram levelc rossings on the Glen Waverley line? (Gardiner and Kooyong) - Even if to 30 km / ph like Riversdale and Glen Huntly, opposed to the current 15 km / ph...

3) What is the current situation reguarding the City Loop's signalling and an upgrade, government funded?

4) Where will the third track on the Dandenong most likely end? (Springvale, Dandenong, Clayton...)

EDIT: Just realised MJJAs rules on asking questions. If indeed you find time limited, pelase feel free to only answer question 2.

  -   Station   Street
  mjja Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Mount Waverley, Melbourne
Questions from tranzitjim (even though he's got a fan club he can ask his questions...):
Who owns the Vinelander cars?

What is to happen to the V/Line BS cars now they are withdrawn?
  mjja Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Mount Waverley, Melbourne
Question from Somebody in the WWW:
Heres my 5 questions (and 2c):

- Within what radius of the majority of residents in the metropolitan area does the government intend to provide a public transport service meeting the "minimum service requirements"? I am curious as there are some locations within the middle suburbs where it is over 1.2km for many residents to walk to their nearest public transport service which runs decent operating hours & frequencies Mon-Sat, with usually almost no service on Sundays.

- Is it intended to redesign some routes to be more direct through the back streets of suburbia? There are some routes that operate large sections with little catchment that add significantly longer to the timetable while collecting few passengers along such areas.

- Are some surplus bus routes (ie #509 along Hope Street, #479 extension to City) likely to be scrapped entirely on the grounds of duplicating other services and receiving little patronage?

- Are you in a position to comment on patronage? If so, what are the most and least used services on a passengers-per-service ratio?

- Is it intended to re-design timetables to co-ordinate train & bus connections & frequencies? For example, in some areas there is a train service running every 15 minutes, and a bus every 20, meaning that any connection is just luck, or vice versa. Another example would be too short connections - one being that on week nights at Box Hill, there is a 3 minute connection between the train from the City and the #279 bus. As passengers are required to walk one escalator, exit through the ticket barriers, then walk through a confusing shopping centre to another escalator to take them up to the bus dec, this connection is very hard to make within the 3 minutes allocated without hurrying!

Thanks! Very Happy
  mjja Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Mount Waverley, Melbourne
I think that's the lot. PM me if I've missed anything.
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
Do you expect the T&L statement will be enough to achieve the government's goal of 20% by 2020
  savethehumans Chief Train Controller

Location: Melbourne 3004
Q: How many paid employees does the DoI have, what proportion (roughly) could be described as service planning, and what is the combined salary (or the average salary) per service planning person.
  DavidB Moderator

Location: Canberra
What is the timeline on the third track from Blackburn to Ringwood, including the relocation of Heatherdale?

  melbtrip Chief Commissioner

Location: Annoying Orange
What happing with the Red Orbital bus?
It was in the Banyule Banner (July 2006) it was going to start in 6 months time long following roads: Southern Road, Oriel Road, Bell street, Burgundy street, Dora/Jika Streets.

If so going to start in 6 months time, what bus company is going run the bus route?
  PalmerEldritch Say goodnight to the bad guy

Location: Princes Park, Carlton
Jim, is the State Government still committed to three tracks between Caulfield and Dandenong, or will the triplication end at Springvale permanently?

Thanks in advance
  Byrnesy Minister for Railways

Location: Gone
Reminds me...

Jim, is the DoI looking at issues other than Dandenong-Cranbourne duplication and Caulfield-Dandenong triplication that affect the Caulfield group in peak hour in particular?

These could include a third track from Moorabbin to Cheltenham or Mordialloc, changes in the manner in which trains run between Richmond and Caulfield to a more East Richmond/Burnley style arrangement (so, with a DOWN all stopper-DOWN express, UP express-UP express arrangment for the four tracks from Richmond/South Yarra to Caulfield instead of DOWN Dandenong-UP Dandenong DOWN Frankston-UP Frankston arrangement that we have now), a flyover DOWN of Caulfield to avoid conflicts, more direct peak services etc.

Thanks in advance.
  unique Chief Commissioner

Who is Jim Betts?
  PalmerEldritch Say goodnight to the bad guy

Location: Princes Park, Carlton
Who is Jim Betts?
I beleive he is the director of public transport within the DoI.
  Jim Betts Station Master

First up, thanks to the Moderators for establishing order in the face of insurrection from the Taliban.

Second up, many thanks for all these questions.

Probably the best way forward is for me to log in over the weekend and try to answer as many points as possible in one go.  In the mean time, keep the questions coming.

For those of you who don't know (and why should you?), I've been Director of Public Transport in the Vic State Govt since November 2004.  I run Public Transport Division - part of the Dept of Infrastructure - and have a staff of 400 people.  We deal with trains, trams, buses and taxis across Victoria - long term planning, short term contract management & regulation, etc, etc.

I've been heartened by the willingness of most people on this site to engage constructively.  

Think about this formulation:

Option (a): as a Govt you invest $6.5bn in public transport
Option (b) as a Govt you do nothing for public transport

If, under both scenarios, you get bagged by the PTUA et al, you may be tempted to go for option (b) and spend the money on more grateful stakeholders in the health and education sectors.  That's why these people are NOT ON OUR SIDE.

Enough of PTUA, let's share some facts and opinions and I'll do my best to be open with you at all times.
  Byrnesy Minister for Railways

Location: Gone
I don't want to sound like a mod or anything, but if anyone is tempted to challenge Jim on his formulation regarding the PTUA on the last page, then please do it via PM, rather than hijacking this thread.
  Jim Betts Station Master

And for my own part, I'll shut up about that subject to avoid further provocation.
  xtrapolis954m Chief Commissioner

Location: Somewhere in HBE
Q - Are there any plans for minor works that will enable major changes to the timetable?

Eg - At Hurstbridge, trains have to slow down to 10kph over a set of points (on a 40kph curve) that have been in bad condition for the last 10 - 15 years. During the recent track occupation between Hurstbridge & Heidelberg, two of the rails on the points were replaced, but this has not resulted in a lifting of the speed restriction. The cost will be minimal, occupation may only take a day or so and will mean that 1 minute can be cut off the timetable.

I know that this may not seem like much, but a minute here & 2 there can make all the difference.

Cheers, Lachlan.
  M_Train Chief Train Controller

Location: Mulgrave, Melbourne, Victoria
Will the triplication between Caufield and Springvale include any Grade Seperations?
  John of Melbourne The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Melbourne suburbs
The debate about bus frequencies is hampered on all sides by a lack of data about the impact on patronage of particular frequencies. To say that a 10 minute frequency is good but 15 minutes is "next to useless" assumes a level of knowledge about demand elasticities which I certainly don't possess. What about 12 minutes or 13? Dunno.
"Jim Betts"

I've often wondered about this myself.  I've heard plenty of opinions on what is an acceptable frequency, but no hard data.  What is the DoI doing about gathering this sort of information?
  TheLoadedDog The Ghost of George Stephenson

No... loaded questons will be allowed.

He-ey!  Sad   8)

Nothing to add other than that I'm not an ALP voter, I'm not a Victorian, and until five minutes ago I'd never heard of Jim Betts, but after tonight I wish some of the NSW brass would take his lead and show their faces on these forums.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line

He-ey!  Sad   8)
Nothing to add other than that I'm not an ALP voter, I'm not a Victorian, and until five minutes ago I'd never heard of Jim Betts, but after tonight I wish some of the NSW brass would take his lead and show their faces on these forums.

Absolutely, as a lowly paid DTF Public Servant, and the sole Government side rep or 'party hack' in some Users opinion, I'm stoked that a person of Jim's calibre is prepared, in the face of some lambasting from a few Users, to offer to answer questions from us. Very Happy

The Vinelander (Mike)
  standard_gauge Dr Beeching

Location: Outside the toilet, waiting for Della Bosca to come out !!
No... loaded questons will be allowed.

He-ey!  Sad   8)

Nothing to add other than that I'm not an ALP voter, I'm not a Victorian, and until five minutes ago I'd never heard of Jim Betts, but after tonight I wish some of the NSW brass would take his lead and show their faces on these forums.

In NSW point of view, Victorian DOI is like the combination of Railcorp and NSW department of transport, and Jim is like the Vince Graham of NSW. (let's do another maths, in Victoria, according to Jim, 400 peolle control rail, PT in Victoria, but what about NSW? how many workers altogether work for Railcorp+Department of transport??  this case you have to minus Railcorp train drivers)

Anyway, I finally have 2 questions, and some explanation on the direction of where these questions came from.

Q1 What is the situation of public transport to Airport in the future?

*This is a vague question but I'd like to know whta DOI has in plan for airport to city or suburban access in the next few years, personally as a heavy traveller/heavy Skybus user, I didn't find Skybus is adeque nor reliable enough, there are tons of trucks going around the airport too, perhaps passenger/freight dual usage Airport railway would help?

Q2 I was wondering if DOI might follow Japanese, France or UK and in some cases USA and NZ example of letting private sector, local and regional council to help contribution to public transport funding? this is funding for both operation and public transport project.

*I felt everything fund by state government seem to be a big baggage to look after, in those countries I mentioned above, some shopping centers, department stores contribute some fund to operation of public transport as well as public transport projects. You can see all Westfield shopping centers across Melbourne spending loads of money on building car parks, wouldn't that be better off encourage them to spend on buses, trams ,trains to get to their shopping center? wouldn't be better of Southland pay for building rail station at Southland rather than asking government to foot the bill?
  Jim Betts Station Master

Lots of good questions here.  Can't wait to hear my answers.  Big day tomorrow, so I'll get back to you over the w/e.

PS - Fellow PTD-ers on this website - feel free to pitch in to support your leader.  Keep it clean.

Cheers JB
  standard_gauge Dr Beeching

Location: Outside the toilet, waiting for Della Bosca to come out !!
I found more questions:

Q3: For interstate service to Adelaide, with V/line daylink service somewhat duplicate and competitive with GSR's Overland, is there anyway to operate Adelaide corridor more efficient rather than 2 transport operator sharing a thin slice of patronage?

Q4: Albury service might be affect by Wodonga station relocation, the new Wodonga station seem to be out of town and not attractive to user, is there any plan to make it more attractive to user?

Q5 Any chance to rationalise some V/line service? such as the once weekly Great Ocean road service to more frequent service? like runnin gon a daily basis?

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