Pulse timetables come to Melbourne (and why it’s important)
In November the Sunbury extension to the Metro network opens, which will increase services to Sunbury and Diggers Rest — every 12 minutes during peak, which is pretty good, and every 40 minutes outside peak and on weekends, which… isn’t (but is still an improvement).
Here’s the neat bit: a bunch of local buses have been re-organised to meet the trains: routes 481, 485, 486, 487, 488 and 489.
As far as I can see, in the mornings (at least, off-peak) they’re scheduled to arrive at Sunbury station about 7 to 8 minutes before the train to the city departs.
In the afternoons, they’re scheduled to depart 7 to 8 minutes after the train arrives. This seems to include meeting trains up until the last bus departure at 8:35pm (meeting the 8:28pm train from the city). And it appears to be much the same story on weekends too.
Hopefully in both directions that timing is enough to ensure connections. I doubt they’d hold trains for late buses (given network impacts closer into the city), but the opposite might be true.
Unfortunately the connections in the counter-”peak” directions aren’t very good — I guess they are limited a bit by the train timetable and a lack of resources (as they evidently were at South Morang, where 20 minute trains are met by 20-40 minute buses).
But still, with 6 bus routes timed specifically to meet trains at Sunbury station, it’s a good example of pulse timetabling, something that will genuinely make a positive difference to locals, and hopefully an indication of what’s to come for other areas of Melbourne as timetables and routes get reformed by PTV.
It’s important because long connection times are a huge barrier to more people using PT. If they don’t have funding for frequent services, they have to make sure the infrequent services connect properly.