Here is how to improve bus patronage according to me - a regular bus user from Adelaide:
1) Make ALL bus routes run every 10 minutes from 6 AM to Midnight on Monday through to Sunday.
2) Simplify the bus network with routes running along main roads from the city to the edge of the suburbs.
3) Introduce a few circle line orbital bus routes to avoid travelling through the CBD for cross town journeys.
4) Include comfortable seats, wheelchair access, power points, free wifi and real time arrivals as standard on all buses.
5) Ensure bus drivers are trained to be friendly, helpful, welcoming, courteous and respectful to everyone.
6) Implement a simple, flat fare, per ride, smart-card ticketing system that is intuitive to use and reliable.
7) Always have tickets available, which can be purchased on board, for tourists and infrequent bus users.
8) Permit accompanied children aged 9 and under, wheelchair users, and the frail aged to travel for free.
9) In terms of timetabling and maps, present in an easy to understand, and integrated city wide network.
10) Mandate that buses are to cooperate with trains, as feeder services, instead of competing with trains.
11) Allow people to bring pets, luggage, and bikes on buses at all times and free of additional cost.
12) Make the price of car registration cover the full cost of providing roads and their related infrastructure.
13) Tell the TV stations to stop shoving car and car related product commercials down our throat all program long.
re the above-
1 ) a 10 or 15 minute frequency would probably lead to an increase in passengers, but my observations of a 10 minute frequency of buses in Corby and Kettering, England still had near empty busses running, so , of itself , not the only solution , but definitely part of it. Again, what would it cost compared to fare revenue earned ?
At some point these services have to be paid for , and if patronage is still low, a lot of other questions, and their answers need to be investigated, as the public purse is not a bottomless pit, despite what politicians of all flavours at times imply.
I would prefer to see improved public transport, but realistically , it must meet actual demand, as tax payers money is also needed for health, education, social security and other equally worthy causes , which, as a society we all, to a greater or lesser extent need at some point in our, and our families, lives.
2 ) the problem here is the assumption that all main roads can handle buses, and that the road's inherent design and location is convenient to pedestrians. Where this is not the case, and Melbourne has a surprising amount of main roads not conducive to pedestrians , would only lead to less passengers than currently.
The bus route should ideally conveniently connect traffic nodes such as shops, schools etc, to other transport interchanges and to convenient stops where passengers ( not customers , public transport provides passage from place to place ) can quickly access their homes.
As a lot of post WW2 housing estates were designed without thought or reference to buses , this is difficult, and to some extent explains the problem. Low housing density means low potential passenger numbers , hence one reason why bus routes do a Cook's tour in an effort to increase patronage. ( There are other reasons as well for circuitous bus routes )
3 ) has already been done in Melbourne, with some success, think the 900 series of long distance circular routes , whose passenger numbers have held up.
4 ) wheelchair access is now required by law for all new public transport. Real Time arrivals are very slowly being rolled out, but this is expensive to provide , and would you do so if passenger demand is falling ? ( I would argue yes, as it improves passenger confidence in the bus network. )
Buses themselves should be provided with "Next Stop..." displays and audible announcements , this is one reason why the 900 route buses have good patronage.
Personally not convinced that Free on board WiFi is necessary, but if the passengers do want that, then why not. Personel power points would drain the buses battery supply, which is not intended for that purpose. Anyway, you can now purchase back up battery power supplies if you need access to additional power.
Comfortable seats is a matter of opinion, current pattern is a direct result of ongoing vandalism, this also applies to train and tram seats by the way.
5 ) agree, but all the passengers should also have to meet that standard ! I am constantly amazed ( I should not be by now ) at how rude and abusive some people are ; and I do not think it is just me who clearly remembers that my Mum ( and this applies to all children and their mothers ) would not tolerate bad manners from their children , surely adults both should and could be better mannered ?
6 ) as discussed on other fora here, fare box return covers around 46% per ticket sold , so whatever fare system is implemented , it needs to aim for at least a 50% coverage of operating costs , and bearing in mind the spread and low density of Australian Capital cities , that is a difficult ask.
The current tap on / tap off card systems are very slow ( about half of what they are supposed to be ) and fare enforcement is lax , and fare evasion relatively easy. This is due to the claim that automatic systems are cost effective compared to conductors, ticket checkers etc. Toronto Transit Commission / TTC trams give lie to that assertion as TTC has the best fare recovery of any public transit system in North America.
I personally favour a five zone system so that distance travelled is proportionate to the fare table , but that is not what currently applies in suburban Melbourne.
7 ) yes, I fully agree.
8 ) from a social policy point of view, that has merit, but how is the cost of this provision to be met ? See ( 6 ) above.
9 ) agree , but in practice is quite difficult to achieve. Maps are improving, but a lot more needs to be done.
The Yarra Tram timetables and maps I think are a good format , though doing that for longer bus routes could be problematic.
If you had a general 10 minute frequency on all forms of public transport , connectivity would not, of itself be an issue because a maximum of 10 minutes, and frequently less , would elapse between changes modes and connecting with other services.
The obvious problem with buses ( and trams ) is traffic congestion can easily put paid to a reasonable service level. In the above example a 10 minute frequency is a bit useless if bus services cannot meet their schedule due to congestion.
This is currently the case with many western suburban Melbourne bus services where congestion has effectively destroyed the any semblance of service, but this is not a fault of the schedule if the bus spends more time stuck in traffic than it does moving.
10 ) parallel bus routes actually increase the connectivity of adjacent residential areas to access both shops and trains, they re not as counterproductive as you may think. I have recently travelled on a few routes that connect intermediate shops and schools to railway station, and I was surprised at the number of passengers used these services to connect with a train.
11 ) possibly off peak only, and non fold up bikes a definite NO. I ride a non fold up road bike, nothing flash but does the job. If two of us got onto a bus with non fold up bikes, no one else could use the service due to lack of circulating space. New Zealand's use of pram and bike racks on the front of a bus is a possibility , but I have not yet seen this in use , so I cannot comment.
12 ) making car rego costs thousands of dollars per vehicle per annum to meet that objective has David Jone's** chance of ever getting up. Fuel taxes ( excise ) was intended to cover the costs of road provision, and generally did so until the late 1980s when real fuel efficient road vehicles started to become commonplace, These days fuel excise covers around 50% of road costs , and Governments are looking at a Plan B in relation to road funding. Add to that, those reinforced concrete bridges of the 1950s and 1960s have a roughly 70 year average lifespan , and they will also start to need large scale replacement within 10 years, and how will we finance that ?
13 ) TV stations receive revenue for that , so they will not say no to auto industry ads , and most viewers are unlikely to consider auto ads in the same light as cigarette, alcohol, or gambling ads.
PS /Dear YM , ** rhyming slang, David Jones in Melbourne was once Buckley & Nunn , hence Buckleys chance, ie none !
PPS / Dear Heath, I always thought that Adelaide's Route 1 for all Adelaide bound buses was a good idea ! ( a 1967 visit with my Dad. )