I’ve been on a break at home, having a rest and trying to get stuff done around the house.
Alas, this is now at an end, and while I guess I’ve had a rest, I certainly haven’t got all the stuff I planned done. And people telling me “nobody ever does” isn’t helping.
My break was timed to miss most of the big south-east rail shutdown.
- Moorabbin (Frankston line) and Westall (Dandenong line) to the City have been replaced by buses between 2nd and 13th of January.
- The Sandringham line was also bustituted between Elsternwick and the City between 2nd and 5th of January.
This is all due to works for the metro tunnel near South Yarra station, in preparation for building the tunnel portal there. There are also works preparing the Dandenong line for the High Capacity Metro Trains.
Here are a few snaps of the view around South Yarra station, comparing October with last week. (Sorry they don’t all match up exactly; I wasn’t that organised.)
October, looking southwest:
…and a similar-ish view a few days ago:
More striking is this: October looking southeast:
…and a few days ago – the hill and all the trees are gone!
And here’s a view from a few days ago from near Chapel Street, looking northwest:
At Caulfield there also seemed to be a fair bit going on:
Also observed: at South Yarra the extensions to platforms 5 and 6 are nearing completion.
Upgrades and new infrastructure are important, and if you’re going to close rail lines, early January is the time to do it.
The question is: how good is the information provided to people, and how smooth are the replacement buses?
I would say: not too bad. Buses always struggle replacing trains, but I think they’re getting better at this.
Some observations about the bus replacements
Here, if you feel so inclined, is a brain-dump of observations:
The earlier they can advise people, the more likely some affected passengers can avoid it, such as booking leave. I was lucky enough to be able to do this. The more notice the better. (In this case, details were published on 11th December, about 3 weeks out. I think they can do better.)
Some people will always miss the notices, and just rock up to the station. So prominent signage on approach and at station entrances is helpful.
Some of the notices need review. I have my doubts about the detailed bus timetables posted at stations – their usefulness and their scope for incorrect interpretation.
The signage pointing the way to the temporary stops seems pretty good. Big and bold.
Signs at replacement bus stops could improve. They generally don’t have any detail, such as bus stopping patterns, or days of operation. There were sightings of people waiting at the stops a day early – the signage was up, but the trains were still running.
Likewise, last year some of the signage came down a few hours early, leading to confusion on the final night.
Location of the stops seems okay – from what I’ve seen, it’s consistent with past occupations, mostly along main roads to ensure a relatively quick ride.
An exception is citybound at McKinnon, where they can’t make up their mind if it’s outside the pub again (where staff tend to be located, and there’s a temporary shelter), or 50 metres up the road (where the bus stop sign has been installed).
Supply and despatch of buses seems to have mostly been good, though there have been some long queues in the City in PM peak.
They may of slightly underestimated how many came back to work today.— Brad Cook (@PkmtBrad) January 7, 2019
The line for PKM/CBE goes from the bus stops, into the Atrium and back out towards the metro tunnel and ends up at the crossing outside the station. pic.twitter.com/IU8rS59Zty
Less confusion around Myki touch-on (the buses are free). But there seems to be no consistency around whether all-door boarding is used or not.
Information needs to be consistent. Signage tends to say “to City”, which is very clear. But many announcements I’ve heard at stops have said “to Flinders”. This is less clear. On one bus I was on, when it was announced that “this bus is express to Flinders”, 80% of the passengers got off the bus, then most of them got back on. I think “City” would be better.
Also: “to Flinders“? I know that’s how some refer to it, and I know I’m being a pedant, but it’s really “Flinders Street”. Flinders is a completely different place.
The replacement bus routes have split different passenger groups to different services, and seem to have worked well. Lighter than usual traffic at this time of year certainly helps.
Travel time from my limited samples: Bentleigh to City (Arts Centre) is around 40-46 minutes, depending on time of day. Routes varied – some buses take Dandenong Road/St Kilda Road, others take Burke Road and Citylink. I haven’t sampled other routes – how’s it been?
They still haven’t fixed the Patterson bus zone, which remains 7am-7pm Monday to Saturday, despite rail buses running until around 1am (and all night on weekends), and even regular buses serving the stop every day until around 10pm. Should I just go park my car there every Sunday until they fix it?
The rail shut down has meant there has been extra pressure on nearby routes: trams and buses that run towards the City or connect with other rail lines that are still running. Little or no effort seems to have been put into additional services – apart from the Sandringham line, which is part of the Frankston replacement route for some passengers this week.
Only some of the replacement bus routes are in the PTV database, typically the all stations services, so planning a trip may result in travel times that are longer than reality. This may be related to the terrible timetable display web pages, but a resolution really ought to be found. (The Beta PTV web site shows promise.)
There have been some BIG issues with the PTV timetable data recently. South Gippsland coach routes still have non-existent (during works) Metro train connections from Dandenong to the City, which gives incorrect results in the Journey Planner for some trips. And lots of other data is showing up with errors, such as Peninsula bus route 788 missing most of its trips.
What else have people (who have perhaps been commuting more than I have!) seen during the shutdown?