There’s hidden meaning in some of Melbourne’s tram and bus route numbers.
Below 150 is all trams, for a start. Above is buses.
I suspect trams will move to 1 or 2-digit numbers in the next few years, to accomodate the new “a” (altered) and “d” (depot) suffixes in the displays (most of which are limited to 3 characters). This is a good move, as it’ll remove some of the uncertainty around mystery route numbers.
It shouldn’t be too hard to move to 2-digits, as there are only two 3-digit route numbers: the 109 (formerly mostly known as the 42) and the 112 (formerly known as the 10).
150 to 199 used to be school bus routes, predominantly in the eastern suburbs. Does anybody know if they still run? I couldn’t find any trace of them when I went looking. (Update October 2013: Yes they exist, now run by Transdev.)
200-399 are mostly ex-Tramways Board bus routes, now run by Ventura (National Bus) following privatisation in the 1990s. Some of the bus routes partially match old tram routes, either electric services since removed (such as the 246 from Elsternwick to Point Ormond, and the 220 and 223 both of which cover parts of the ex-Footscray tram network) or cable trams (such as many of the Lonsdale and Lygon/Rathdowne Street routes).
300-350 are mostly Eastern freeway routes, though a number of these have been renumbered into 90x Smartbuses.
400s are mostly in the western suburbs.
500s are mostly in the northern suburbs.
600s are mostly in the eastern suburbs.
700s are mostly in the southern suburbs.
800s are mostly in the south-eastern suburbs
…01 is emerging as the numbering for express high-frequency shuttles (401/601), though there are others like 201 and 701 which don’t fit into this model.
940s to 980s are Nightrider services. The main routes are even numbered, and extension/shuttle services are odd-numbered, so the main Nightrider to St Albans is 942, and its extension to Melton is 943.
It should be emphasised that all of these rules are informal, and often broken, and thus should not be trusted. For instance, some south-eastern routes seem to have crept into the 92x range, for reasons unknown.
And there are enormously illogical route variations, such as the notorious 600/922/923 route split. It used to be simply the 600 (another ex-tram route), but then it merged with parts of route 822 and 823. The result is one of Melbourne’s most confusing route structures, with a common/frequent section between Beaumaris and Sandringham, but different/infrequent routes through Brighton to St Kilda and parts of Cheltenham. What were they thinking?
Others have probably discerned other patterns in the numbering. Comment away!
- Human Transit: What if route numbers signified service level?