Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Belconnen Bus Infrastructure - Week One Update

Last weeks post on the new bus infrastructure in Belconnen drew great interest and a few emails. Thanks to Martin, one of the moderators at for a few clarifying points, which I will incorporate into this post.

Yesterday I used the new bus infrastructure (the Westfield end) and picked up some new timetables for Network 2010. A few observations:
  • The lack of seating is still apparent, as are the inadequate covering of the platform areas. 
  • Platform 2 has a partly enclosed and covered waiting area.
  • Work is nowhere near finished on even the external areas. 
  • The MyWay shop is not yet open, although timetables etc were being stored inside it.
  • There is a traffic light on Lathlain St for the bus entry point, it does not have a priority setup, i suspect there is simply loops in the road that detect a bus. They are apparently synchronised with the Lathlain/Cohen lights.
  • There are only two stops - Platform 1 and Platform 2. All buses pull up to the front of the platform.
  • Pedestrian traffic lights at Bus Lounge end are routinely ignored, if there is no bus coming people just walk across.  
  • The new bus station is called 'Westfield' (not Belconnen Westfield or Westfield Belconnen) and is marked like that on timetables.
  • The new Blue Rapid signage is up.
Martin also advised that:
"Fencing: there shouldn't be much need for people to "race across the road" for a connecting bus. Apart from route 45, all Belconnen  feeder services depart from the same side as arriving "Blue Rapid"  routes from City. Which is the same situation as it is now. Anyway,  Westfield Belconnen station is NOT designed to be a transfer point -  just a bus stop."
He also reports that on the free bus tours last weekend, two groups of people in different buses both commented on the lack of wheelchair access a the Labour Club end of the Belconnen Community Bus station.  Now onto the pictures and some more observations accompanying them.
MyWay store not yet open, as MyWay wont come online until 2011 they have a few weeks up their sleeves.
 Crowds thronging the new Bus Lounge. This was just after 9.30AM
 Covered and partially enclosed area on Platform 2
Platform 1. All services leave from the same Platform on each side. In theory this is a great idea, and much like a train or light rail, in that one platform services all routes. However, I thought 'what happens if three buses come at once?' and sure enough that happened when I caught the 52. It was the third bus, and several people had to schlepp 20 metres or so. I would request that drivers pay attention to passenger approaching their bus, and dont prematurely close doors and depart. 
 As you exit the Bus Lounge, the timetable info is outside. Surely, it should be INSIDE the bus lounge at several locations? I mean at least until the 'real time' timetable display is ready.
 Person ignoring fence and pedestrian traffic signaling.
 View from the carpet store corner, you can see a bus entering the Westfield bus station. Since last week, traffic lights were installed at the entry point on Lathlain St.
Here is another bus, turning into the bus station from Lathlain St. A bus would wait roughly 30 seconds for lights to change (I timed several). Imagine if buses always had priority and didnt have to stop ? 
 Clear 'Rapid' signage and logos on timetables. 
 Really ? Every 5 minutes from beginning of service to end of service ? Upto ? Does that mean 55 minutes to 5 minutes wait ? Is 5 minutes the mean, the median, the average ? 
Ahh I see! You call the 300 series 'Rapids' and Canberra now has Bus Rapid Transit. Unlike Redex, it looks to me like the Blue rapid is just the same old 300 series buses using the same number of stops, meaning there is no decrease in travel time (from that factor, I'm aware there is now a busway on Belconnen Way).
I dont know anyone who calls the Mall 'Westfield'. I've heard Belco, the Mall, Westfield Belconnen etc, but never 'Westfield'. 
 We still persist with two bus services. Ridiculous. On a positive note, at least all the weekend timetables are in one book.
New 6 wheel MAN bus was on the road. Im yet to ride in one of these.

One week in and I think the new infrastructure and services are working well. The Westfield Bus station needs some work around the edges on things like cover, and timetable displays in the actual bus lounge etc, but the one platform idea is a good one and should save confusion - especially from people who are infrequent bus users. I remain concerned that 'Rapid' may be the Bus Rapid Transit we are being guided to via the Canberra Transport Plan, in lieu of proper Mass Transit like Light Rail. 

Related posts:
Belconnen ABS and Westfield new bus station - sneak preview
MyWay - RFID ticketing system for ACTION
Privatising ACTION
1999 to 2010 - No vision on transport issues in Canberra

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