Action for Public Transport (N.S.W.) Inc.
|P O Box K606|
|Haymarket NSW 1240|
|10 November 2017|
Action for Public Transport (NSW) is a transport advocacy group active in Sydney since 1974. We promote the interests of beneficiaries of public transport - passengers and the wider community alike. We make this submission on the Review of Environmental Factors dated August concerning the Hurstville to Parramatta via Padstow, Bankstown and Chester Hill bus corridor.
We understand that the M91 service is the result of combining a number of shorter-distance local services. Many M91 passengers are travelling relatively short distances and would probably prefer stops to be less than 400 metres apart.
Bus priority generally
The project is designated Bus Priority Program but there are two difficulties with that name:
On page i of the REF, the Executive Summary describes initiatives including "Reducing potential delays for buses at traffic signals by moving stops to the departure side of the intersection" but there is no explanation of why reducing departure delays counters the increase in arrival delays.
The REF regards stops as unwarranted if they are used by fewer than about 20 passengers per weekday. But only the occasional buses which those passengers use need stop and then only briefly. The rest of the 90+ services cannot save any time from deletion of a stop that they don't use. One stop proposed for deletion is described as as averaging only one passenger per weekday; precisely how much time does the average trip save by eliminating it?
Note the distinction between making trips faster on average and making trip times less variable. Both are desirable. Padding the timetable can reduce variability at the expense of speed.
It is generally advisable to have bus stops in pairs, one in each direction. This simplifies passengers' trip planning.
Co-ordination of work
If the changes proceed, it might be appropriate in some places to install bus waiting shelters or other street furniture. An obvious place would be the Proctor Road stop near Chester Hill Public School where significant numbers of passengers might be waiting in rainy weather.
Such assets are probably the responsibility of the local council, however if RMS is advocating bus stop changes it should take charge of co-ordinating adjustments to drainage, footpaths, shelters, power supplies, etc. to take place simultaneously with the stop changes.
On busy roads such as most of Forest Road, stops should always be close to safe crossings. On main roads, this generally means traffic signals although sometimes a bridge or subway is available. On collector roads, a marked footcrossing might suffice. The REF should pay more attention to safety than it does.
Bus delays in major centres
Bankstown planners have done a useful service to bus passengers by simply making the railway overbridge Buses Only in both directions, thus eliminating most cars from South Terrance around the bus interchange area.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Hurstville. One of the buses we rode in from Hurstville took very nearly 10 minutes from its start in Cross Street to the southern end of Cambridge St, a distance of only 1350 metres. While some of the delay was taken up loading passengers, most of it was due to running 12-metre buses in narrow twisted streets overloaded by single-occupant cars whose drivers did not scruple to delay buses if it helped them progress. An obvious improvement would be to replace the angle parking in Forest Rd between Queens Rd and Macmahon St with parallel parking. Further improvements in bus travel times could be attained by restricting Forest Rd between Macmahon St and Rose St to buses and delivery vehicles.
Likewise in Parramatta, another of the northbound buses we rode was delayed by single-occupant cars in Church St between GWH and Campbell St. The bus driver solved the problem by illegally crossing double unbroken centre lines and driving a short distance on the wrong side of the road. This should not be necessary.
Solving the problems described in Parramatta and Hurstville would obviously save far more bus travel time than the dozens of other adjustments proposed in the REF. Why aren't solutions to the core problem canvassed in the REF?
Wayfinding in major centres
Not all bus passengers know exactly where to board. In larger centres, such as Hurstville, Bankstown and Parramatta, there should be adequate signposting to help people find their correct bus stop. Any review of bus services, such as a bus priority program, provides an opportunity to review wayfinding.
Bankstown is fortunate because of the South Terrace bus interchange. All stops in both directions are within sight of one another in a span of about 80 metres. Parramatta is also well organised but bus stops are spread along Argyle St. We think that Parramatta should have better signage around the station to help passengers find the correct bus stop.
Hurstville wayfinding needs more attention. Bus terminal stops are in several streets spread around both sides of the railway. We think that relevant authorities should work together to simplify wayfinding around central Hurstville.
Accuracy of the REF maps
We understand that, despite the maps in the REF and community update, only southbound buses travel via Halsall St and Milton St. Northbound buses instead use Bridge St Granville and cross the railway at Bold St. Our assertion should be checked carefully. If true, the Halsall St stop [proposed action 8] can have no pair for northbound trips - see below.
Parramatta, Granville and South Granville
See note above about proposed action 8.
Guildford, Chester Hill, Sefton, Bass Hill and Yagoona
No particular comments.
No particular comments.
Peakhurst, Penshurst and Hurstville
Proposed action 213 is difficult to understand. M91 stops should be moved closer to Bonds Rd rather than further away. That intersection affords safe crossing of Forest Road and useful interchange with bus 945 services.
The actions proposed in the REF fall well short of giving adequate priority to M91 services. Many of the proposed actions will have very little benefit if any and might even work against the best interests of M91 passengers.