Sometimes I notice tiny things, and wonder what they’re about.
Have you noticed that some bus stops have a small colourful stripy bit of tape?
Intriguingly, many of them seem to match the colours of the logo of the bus operator for that route – even if the buses themselves are now all in the standard PTV orange livery.
Here’s one on a Ventura route (blue and yellow):
I should have guessed it, but a well-informed Twitterer had the answer:
They’re timing points. Spots along the route where the bus driver needs to check their timetable and may need to wait if they’re early.
Many of them seem to be at major stops such as railway stations, though some are not.
This raises another topic: with many level crossings being removed, which cuts delays along bus routes (particularly highly variable, unpredictable delays), are bus timetables being re-written?
It appears not. A few weeks ago I caught a southbound route 626 bus at Carnegie station that arrived at the stop almost five minutes early. And that was in the PM peak.
The 626 timetable still allows 8 minutes for the 850 metres between Chestnut Street/Dandenong Road (the stop before the station) and Koornang/Neerim Roads (the stop after the station).
Its sister route 623 is the same. You could (briskly) walk it in eight minutes.
Back when the level crossing was there, it probably made sense to allow that much time. Not so much now.
As level crossing removals proceed across Melbourne, authorities should be reviewing bus timetables and taking the reduced delays into account.
After all, speeding up street-based public transport is one of the key non-motorist benefits of grade separation.
Timetable tweaks may not be enough to run extra services with the same buses, but they can at least help cut unnecessary delays – particularly for bus passengers not boarding or alighting at those timing points.