McGill's & Alexander Dennis
South East Transport Changes from 2 December
Featured Bus Route – October 2018
DATE FOR THE DIARY - 25th November - Finchley Bus Running Day
Alexander Dennis & Lothian
Buses on Parade
The non-Inner West bus routes to be privatised
Leeds Considering Hydrogen Powered Buses
New CEO for First Group & Results for Six Months to September 2018
Alexander Dennis at Euro Bus Expo 2018
Like Melton and Bacchus Marsh, the townsites of Kilmore and Wallan are not ideal for public transport. Preceding the train they are on the parallel highway. And the station is at a sufficient to be objectionable distance from the town centre. Still the towns are in Melbourne's exurban commuter belt and people do (or did pre COVID-19) take the train into Melbourne. And Wallan, at least, is likely to suburbanise after Donnybrook and Beveridge. Kilmore is in the mostly rural seat of Euroa held by the National's Steph Ryan. Wallan is in Yan Yean held by Labor's Danielle Green MP. As mentioned before here, Ms Green has been exceptionally effective at getting increased bus services for her seat, even in parts where existing ridership is low.
With walking eliminated as a station access option for most and cycling requiring a separated-from-traffic path to be of broad appeal, the remaining two options to reach the station are Park & Ride and some sort of feeder bus. Parking at stations generates its own demand and there is normally never enough. And it entrenches multiple car households with their inherently high living expenses. Although it is hard to feel sympathetic for 'want both city and country' high income CBD workers commuting from acreages whose exurban lifestyles inevitably carry high costs with great public subsidy (including through very low V/Line fares for periodical ticket holders and 'free' parking at stations). What about buses? Connectivity with trains is essential, including during not infrequent delays, for them to be viable. And not just in the timetable, but enforced on the ground. Even a 90% train punctuality potentially means the bus leaving without you once per fortnight if it was not held back. And the vagarities of the City Loop can make it difficult to reach your V/Line train from some CBD locations in the first place. Still, (i) where you've got dense concentrations of commuters away from the station (whose trains offer a reasonable alternative to driving directly), and (ii) you can make the bus reliably connect with the train, then feeder buses not only have a chance but become cost-effective. Combined with cycling routes this starts to provide alternatives to driving. That frees up (expensive to provide) station parking spaces for others and provides effectively an increase without a capital cost. There is also help for household budgets if the bus allows families living in the towns to get by without a second car. Both conditions (i) and (ii) apply for Kilmore and Wallan, which is what makes next week's change interesting. Existing servicesThe maps below show current routes near both towns.
Kilmore has one indirect route that does too much. A contributing factor is the town's disjointed street network. Wallan also suffers this problem with the Hume Freeway posing a barrier to what could be. The low density enclave of Hidden Valley currently has no service. Its geometry is poor for both car and potential bus access to the station despite parts being under a kilometre away as the crow flies. It's one of those inaccessible areas that, like Eynesbury, Sandhurst, Martha Cove or Waterways one ought never develop but gets built anyway, even without direct roads and paths to town and station. The timetable below shows trips from Kilmore to Kilmore East station. Service is roughly half-hourly in the early part of the am peak. Frequency after then is roughly every 40 to 90 minutes with a big early afternoon gap.
There are slightly fewer trips the other way. Afternoon and evening frequency is roughly every 40 minutes with the last trip being 8:16pm. There is no weekend service. Wallan's two main routes (1 and 2) operate mostly hourly Monday to Saturday. Operating hours are better than some Melbourne bus routes. Peak service is roughly every 40 minutes. The map shown before lists a Route 3 but the timetable for this was not found on the PTV website. Proposed servicesThe above will change next week. Both Kilmore and Wallan are getting revised bus services. Improved connectivity with commuter peak afternoon trains from Melbourne is the main selling point with buses being held for up to 20 minutes to meet late trains. These are going under the new brand 'Link Bus'. Kilmore is gaining extra coverage in the north and south-east. Frequencies are fairly similar to before but buses will finish later at night with one later last trip from the station Monday to Thursday and two later last trips on Friday. Saturday's service will be roughly hourly between 8am and 6pm. However roughly every second bus will go the full route to the station with gaps of almost four hours on Saturday afternoons. See Kilmore's Link Bus timetable here: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/route/timetable/13887/kilmore-town-service/ Wallan's arrangements are more complex. Numbered routes 1, 2 and 3 will operate until 5pm weekdays. Then after then 1 and 2 will change to Route A and Route 3 will operate as Route B, with the lettered routes being held back up to 20 minutes for late trains. Link Bus A will operate approximately every 40 minutes between 5:30pm and 8:30pm (timed to meet trains). Like at Kilmore there will be a Friday only trip after 10pm. Link Bus B is a much shorter route with weekday peak service only. This is the Link Bus A timetable: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/route/timetable/13889/wallan-station-wallan-central/ (route mapped above)This is the Link Bus B timetable: https://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/route/timetable/12749/wallan-station-wallara-waters-shuttle/ (route not mapped above)In case you were wondering what happened to the existing Route 3 (Wallara Waters - Wallan Station) timetable you can find it in the timetable for Link Bus B. It would appear that the routes are the same as is the number of trips. This portion of the change appears to be only a renumbering exercise apart from the 20 minute holding of buses for late trains. PTV should however have had it on a separate data file on the website so as not to confuse those in the interim looking for Route 3 (and failing). This combination of letters and numbers on a town's bus network is unusual. The only other known instance of it in Victoria is in the very complex and unreformed bus network in Wodonga (where lettered routes operate on weekdays and combined numbered routes run on Saturday). However the holding of buses for late trains may well increase the appeal of the service for commuters. Route 511 tooI mentioned Route 511 briefly here. A fairly new route it currently provides just one trip each way from Mandalay Estate to Craigieburn. It was frankly an embarrassment as the proportion of people who it would suit would be small. The revised route will be shorter, operating to Donnybrook Station instead. However there will now be three or four trips each way, with two of these trips operating in the peak direction. Like now there will be no off-peak or weekend service. ConclusionWhat would you do think of these changes? Will the 20 minute grace period for late trains encourage commuters to try the bus? And what about the different numbers and letters depending on the time of day? Is simplicity and consistency more important or has the right decision been made to tailoring services for particular passenger demographics? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
PS: An index to all Timetable Tuesday items is here.
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