Saturday, March 16, 2013

Govt to abolish 444 and 443 buses - western suburbs to loose only high frequency bus

Kenmore, Moggill and the western suburbs north of the river are to loose their only high frequency bus service and peak time express bus to the city in the recently announced changes to the SEQ bus system, with the popular 444 and P443 bus routes to be axed.

Last year the LNP state government committed translink to review every bus route and rate them by "value for money" and "patronage" as well as look at how to efficiently structure the network.

The outcomes (which can be found here), were to strengthen and expand the well utilized high frequency routes, close poorly used routes and reduce night time services. It might come as somewhat of a surprise then, that despite both being ranked as "high" value for money with "very high" patronage, both the high frequency 444 (from Moggill to the city) and the P443 (peak time express from Moggill to city) are being axed. To see this, go here and search for 444 or 443.

Passengers from the Western suburbs will instead have access to the "secondary network". Lower frequency services that might go into the CBD, but that also might require changing buses or to a train if the CBD is where you want to go. For example here is what translink has to say about the 444:

This route will be replaced with route #500 MOGGILL TO UQ at a reduced frequency. Passengers wishing to travel to the CBD can transfer to frequent route #26 MT OMMANEY TO CITY VIA INDOOROOPILLY at Indooroopilly.

I am at somewhat of a loss to explain what the govt is playing at here. Probably the major message from the bus review is that passengers want high frequency (ie: convenient) services and so they want to realign the network towards this. To which their response to the western suburbs is to axe highly used and frequent route.

The translink report attempts a halfhearted defense of this saying:
"While Moggill loses its direct connection to the CBD (previously provided by the 444), they gain a direct connection to UQ via Indooroopilly, where they can connect to rail for onwards journeys. Peak services from Moggill will now bypass Indooroopilly and thereby provide a faster connection to the CBD than the existing 444 alignment."
This is all a bit pointless, the 427,432 (and sometimes 428) already provided services from the Kenmore and Chapel Hill to UQ and I doubt very many students live in Moggill. So I struggle to see what is gained by this. Also the 444 already went to Indooroopilly and almost no one would catch a bus to Indooro and then swap to a train when it could be a 15 min wait for one, instead of staying on the bus for a 20 min ride into the city. As for peak services bypassing the Indooro exchange, we already had that, it was called the P443.

If you want to have your say:
You can search the changes and read the report here.
You can leave feedback here. Or call 13 12 30
The state government minister for Transport is Scott Emerson. So you could also drop him a line here.

Scott Emerson and Translink have announced that the 444 will be retained for peak time services.

Update 2 (23.3.13)
The state government was now passed all responsibility for bus changes within Brisbane city over to the city council. Apparently no changes will now be instituted without the support of the BCC. So it's probably fair to say that bus review has now devolved into a mixture of buck passing, farce and uncertainty.

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