I agree completely with the opening poster. Box Hill is an appallingly bad example of a so-called 'transport interchange', for the reasons which he mentioned:
* buses separated from trains by two levels.
* congested connections (some shops in the way, only single-width slow escalators.
* no coordination between the two modes.
* lack of information. I believe that after about 20 years, train information has been provided on the bus deck, but bus information is not provided at train level.
I watched the current shopping centre being built; it was a bad design right from the start.
Before it existed, there was a six-place bus station accessed via Carrington St, then subway to the island platform and to the north-side flanking platform.
The new construction was touted as a 'transport interchange': it never was; it was blatant land grab to build a shopping centre.
There was no other plan to convert the current structure to a proper interchange: that original was the plan.
It is hard to rank Box Hill vs Melbourne Central for lack of fitness for purpose. Melbourne Central didn't claim to be a transport interchange (and it isn't one). It is also appallingly bad, and was made worse by Connex. No wonder the Camberwell nimbys don't want to see their station turned into anouther of the breed.
At Box Hill, airport buses, VLine buses, Nightrider buses and trams all bypass the so-called interchange.
There are two aspects: local traffic congestion, which would affect even a good interchange design, and the design of the interchange itself, and Box Hill's isn't good.
If you started with a clean sheet of paper, and no site constraints, what makes a good bus interchange?
The bus pulls up beside the door to the train, and interchange takes less than 1 minute.
These do exist in Australia: Kelmscott (WA) is Australia's best interchange (wide island platform, with buses driving down the middle); Salisbury (SA) came close (single sided, with an awkward second platform used only in peaks). Surprisingly, Broadmeadows (Vic.) was once in the league, but was butchered with high spiked fences, and has now been destroyed completely with the extension of services beyond Broadmeadows: very convoluted connections to up trains.
If you can't pull up beside the door, the next-best design is to have a one-level change, and that is where Victoria misses: two level at best. I haven't tried Boronia for an interchange, but it could well be the best in Melbourne for fitness for purpose.
There isn't much which could be done to retrofix Box Hill.
* Remove all kiosks from the space between the platform exits and the bus deck access.
* Replace the slow and narrow escalators with double-width ones, at a faster speed.
* Provide electronic signs on all three levels so that all passengers know what is going from where, and when.
* Provide some level of overall supervision so that buses do not leave 1 min before a connecting train arrives, particularly with Connex's horrible offpeak headways.
Ringwood is another nightmare: slow and convoluted access, despite a major rebuilding in the last few years.
* Demolish the wall along the busbays.
* Add a gated pedestrian crossing at the down end of the platform (where there was once a full level crossing).
* Add a direct stair to the existing ramps.
For most of the time, access would be direct and quick at ground level, with the pedestrian bridge available at those times when the gates on the ground-level access are closed.
* Remove the blatant lying signs at street level 'platforms 40 m' - they are not.
* Put mimic screens at street level and at mezzanine level to show all of the next-train information, not just at the barrier entry.
When you move into the big league, I think that Bondi Jn (NSW) adopted the right approach (I haven't been there for 20 years), a mini version of Hong Kong.
Trains arrive at subway level, east-west.
Bus bays are arranged one level up, north-south. There are multiple stairs and escalators providing the fastest and most direct access from the platforms to the bus bays.
Roderick B Smith
Rail News Victoria Editor
Comments from three earlier posters:
*The slowest part of any bus journey to Box Hill is usually within a couple of hundred metres of the station, when you do finally get off you then have to go down a flight of escalators, through a shopping centre and then down another flight of escalators to get to the station.
* The plans a few years ago to turn into a multi-modal interchange didn't come through.
* The bus-train/train-bus interchange at Box Hill isn't as bad as it seems. It could be better, absolutely, but it's better than Melbourne Central by a long, long way.