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Your views: on "improving" Adelaide's bus network

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Today, readers comment on State Government plans to boost passenger numbers by demanding operators provide more and faster services with routes better linked to trains and trams, for less money.

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Commenting on the story: Why Stephan Knoll’s public transport plan won’t work

I speak as one who has lived for long periods in Sydney, Melbourne and Switzerland as well as in Adelaide. I have also spent extended periods in major UK cities.

The bus system of Adelaide is excellent compared with bus systems generally, and stands up well compared with the public transport systems elsewhere.

I live 5 kms from the CBD. In Melbourne I lived 5 km from the CBD, serviced by several close-by tramlines. The buses I catch here are superior in terms of time taken and are more likely to take me where I want to go. 

Door to door, it takes me 20 minutes to get to town by bus, and the same by train. But the train is only any use to me if I am going to the immediate vicinity of the main station. Otherwise, the bus takes a wonderful route close to almost everything I ever want to go to.

The bus system here is maligned when it should be supported. It’s a great pity the Liberals are trying to destroy it. – Cathy Chua

Tom Wilson’s article is right on the mark. This idea of feeding buses to train and tram at the expense of direct services to the city is a reflection of the fact that the Minister, who in many ways is a breath of fresh air in the portfolio, has been ‘captured’ by the by the Rail Division management.

It must be remembered that whilst the State Government owns, operates and pays for the rail operations, it is only the funder of bus services that are provided by private companies through leasing and contracting.

For some twenty years savings have been made in the bus network – mainly in labour costs and more efficient rostering of buses and staff – only to see the  money spent on expensive, eye-catching but less efficient rail and tram projects.

I might be more sympathetic to the Minister’s proposals if the economic implications of the proposals were published in full at the time of the announcement.

There may be savings in the off-peak, but the budget for public transport is driven by demand for service in the morning and afternoon peaks.

I don’t know the accurate numbers these days – I am an old man – but as a guide, let’s assume the average subsidy saving from the taxpayer for every peak ride eliminated from out of a bus service is $3, the subsidy to carry that passenger on the train or tram will be of up to $10.

Add to that Tom’s comment that if the program is successful the cost of new railcars and trams needs to be added. Not to worry, because it won’t be successful – anyone with a choice will not transfer. I just feel sorry for those who have no choice.

This bias to rail, exacerbated by the different responsibilities between the two modes within the bureaucracy, has been resisted by successive Ministers of Transport for years.

Whoever advised the Minister that the experience of Manchester was a valid comparator for Adelaide is living in a dream world.

I’m only glad I live in a suburb with a good bus service that can not be sabotaged, at least until the planned Eastlink tram creeps up Norwood Parade.

But I do feel for folk affected by these proposals, such as those on the 150 bus route who live south-west of Port Road.

You only have to see the numbers who alight on Grenfell Street (as far east as Hindmarsh Square) off the remaining peak buses on the 150 route to see how stupid was the idea to think the rail service available beyond the other side of the wide Port Road is an adequate substitute. – Derek Scrafton

Tom Wilson has hit the nail on the head regarding the inconvenience of the rail system terminating on North Tce, and not in Grenfell/Currie St, or Victoria Square which would be more convenient for more city commuters.

I am a train commuter (from the Barossa) myself and prefer to sit on a quiet train instead of sitting in the Port Wakefield Rd carpark every day. The key words being sit and quiet.

The trains are always overcrowded – standing room only from Salisbury inwards and to Mawson Lakes on the outward bound trip, and riding in the front or rear carriages is preferable to sitting underneath poorly maintained diesel engines in the middle carriage.

One question I would love to be investigated, is why does our current train service take longer to travel from Gawler to the city, than the old Bluebird service did in the 1950s?  Tom may well know a retired Treasury official who is a train buff and has obtained all the old train timetables.

If Stefan Knoll wants to put more commuters onto the trains, he needs to be able to provide proper express services from the outer stations, which will involve laying “overtaking” lanes or a third track the entire length of each train route.

To reduce overcrowding on existing routes, he should also investigate scheduling some “sprint” train services during peak hour that provide an express shuttle service to feeder train stations, like Mawson Lakes, providing a very quick and convenient service for these feeder stations.

The designs of train stations also need to be reviewed to ensure that they provide adequate shelter from the environment for passengers whilst waiting for their trains to arrive.

 Despite all of the architectural awards that the new Showgrounds station has received, it is an appalling place to be catching a train into the city; prevailing wind blows rain in underneath the west-facing skillion roof, that also provides no shade from a hot afternoon sun in the middle of summer. – Lisa Laycock

To Tom Wilson’s excellent article, I would add that all this getting off and on and transferring to differing modes of transport seems to assume that the weather is ideal and the passengers are all agile and perfectly fit.

Pity the person with an injury, ageing joints or a parent/ carer with a pram and small children tagging along on an inclement winter or scorching summer day. – Louise Schultz

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