Although the proposal has its merits, it does raise a lot of questions and some of the statistics quoted in support of the proposal don't seem to stack up.
Doncaster's peak hour bus travel is pretty much one-way, ie passengers travelling into the CBD in the AM and out from the CBD in the PM. The AECOM consultancy spokesperson is quoted in The Age article as saying the capacity of the system will be 24,000 a day during peak hours, but this is for travel in both directions during a peak. The capacity of the system is more like 12,000 a day in practical terms. The proposed frequency of the 150-passenger buses is every 3 mins in peak or 20 buses per hour, giving a capacity of 3000 passengers per hour (20 x 150). As the peaks last about 2 hours each this gives a capacity of 12,000 a day (4 x 3000ph). Currently at least 40 buses per hour (Routes 905, 906, 907, 908, 303, 305, etc) are timetabled to use the freeway into the CBD during the AM peak. A conservative capacity of 70 passengers per bus (there are some articulated buses) gives a capacity of 2800 per hour (40 x 70), not much less than the proposal. Note the overall capacity of the proposed service will be influenced by the questions below. There is no indication in the article as to how much the headway between buses can be reduced to increase capacity. Given the buses will be double-articulated and carrying 150 passengers each that might not be much.
What happens to the existing bus routes that currently use the Eastern Freeway? Will existing routes be truncated or closed? If some, or all, of the routes still continue to the CBD, will the 'regular' buses be able to use the busway? The proposed route follows most of the existing Route 907. All the other routes join this route at some stage, mainly at the particular freeway entrance. Route 905 (The Pines) joins the freeway at the Bulleen Road 'station' from Thompsons Road. Route 906 (Warrandyte) crosses the proposed route at Blackburn Road then joins the proposed route in the vicinity of the Doncaster Park & Ride. Will these routes be truncated at these points and passengers required to change buses? If so, this will add up to 5 mins to the journey time. The off-peak frequency of 7 mins implies that the existing routes will be truncated, as there is way too much capacity compared to the current Route 907 off-peak frequencies of 15 mins (during day to 9pm, weekdays), 20 mins(during day, weekends) and 30 mins (at night) using 70-passenger buses.
How exactly will it be funded? How will the public-private partnership work, given that fares from passengers won't generate sufficient revenue? What risk is being taken by the private sector?
Will Transdev charge for parking at the 'stations'? The proposal is to build underground parking at the existing Doncaster Park & Ride (which currently has parking for about 400 cars and, like everywhere else, is full before 7.30am) and the proposed Doncaster terminus.
How far apart will the 'stations' in Doncaster Road be? This applies only to Route 907. Currently buses stop on-demand at stops placed approximately 250 metres apart. Placing 'stations' say 1km apart will add significantly to walking time, negating to some extent the benefit of reduced bus travel time. Another specific to Route 907 will be loss of the connection to Mitcham rail station.
Will the buses be powerful enough to cope with a full load and the air-conditioning flat out on a hot day struggling up the hillier parts of the route? It needs to be made abundantly clear to whoever is responsible for the fleet acquisition and maintenance that 35C (or 95F) is not hot.
There are many other questions.