Session coverage by guest blogger Alexander Sheko
- Presented by Peter Parker (Blog) and Adam Chandler (Twitter)
- Location: Room Two
- Time: Session #6 (3:00pm - 3:35pm)
- Number of Attendees: 16
- Format: Open circle Q & A
Peter and Adam used their extensive knowledge of the public transport system in Melbourne to facilitate an open Q & A session on public transport in our city.
Q & A Synopsis
Q: Where is planning for bus networks going?
A: There are a number of initiatives underway, such as a local network for the Wyndham area. This network has two tiers of routes on main and smaller roads aiming to maximise access to a legible network that meets as many needs as possible, including interchange to train stations, with a frequency of 20 minutes or better in peak times.
Q: What is the relative focus on coverage and ridership as objectives for public transport planning?
A: There are constrained resources so there are necessarily trade-offs. PTV asks people in public consultation sessions in planning for changes such as a new network for Wyndham.
Q: Why is information about what station the train is coming up to sometimes wrong?
A: Passenger information systems are governed either by GPS or “dead reckoning” where the driver has to manually input the train journey description. The train talks to you at that point in a thick German accent. There is limited ability to manually input information after that point and there is no GPS in the loop tunnel so there is potential for error.
Q: Would people be better off if we had 10 minute frequencies on all lines using shuttle services, rather than having lower frequencies past junctions such as Ringwood and Dandenong?
A: Shuttle services aren’t necessary a bit thing e.g. on the Alamein line. This provides you with the ability to run a good frequency and includes redundancy that isolates the line from disruptions on other lines. There is a problem however with single track sections in outer areas that affect PTV’s ability to run frequent services.
Q: What projects are in process to upgrade signals and deal with disruptions from factors such as extreme weather?
A: There is ongoing work to increase resilience to extreme weather such as replacing old sleepers and putting in more resilient air-conditioning units. Several hundred million dollars has been spent on maintenance in the past few years but this is dealing with a maintenance backlog rather than improving the system past a basic level. Some improvements that would be worthwhile could be systems that help the operator to identify exactly where a fault is, rather than having to send a team out and take a few hours to find it.
Q: Will we ever see driverless trains?
A: It’s a cultural issue with industrial considerations around it. In London this has been trialled but there are still drivers in the trains that can take control just in case.
Q: The PTV Rail Network Development Plan has been out for a few years. When will we see plans for trams and buses, and why isn’t an integrated plan being released?
A: No comment on when the development plans for trams and buses will be released. PTV plans routes and timetables with interchange in mind and plan new routes/networks on this principle, although there are many areas where interchanges don’t work well. Buses feed rather than compete with trains, so planning the rail network is the main thing and then buses are planned to fit with the rail network.
Q: Is there the potential to implement clock-face timetabling systems?
A: It’s a bit difficult because trains are generally on 10 or 20 minute frequencies but buses can be on 15 or 30 frequencies so you have to trade-off good frequencies and good interchange.
Q: What is the low hanging fruit in improving public transport?
A: Buses, definitely. More direct routes, buses running late at night and on weekends. Getting rid of inefficient routes that duplicate each other to be able to reinvest those resources for a simpler and more useful network.
Q: Are there plans to extend the tram network?
A: Most of it is about increasing capacity to stable more, larger trams, but also extending some routes through areas like E-Gate.
Q: What are the benefits of trams over buses? Why do people prefer trams?
A: There’s a psychological element of being able to see where the tracks go. There is also the historical element of trams having higher frequencies. Trams can also fit more people than buses so they are more efficient in busy corridors.