Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Morning peak bus congestion on George St

In my opinion, bus congestion on George St is a bigger problem than on York St.  The difference is that it has come on much slower: congestion here has been problematic for over a decade.  This problem is significantly more difficult to solve than York St.  George St is where buses from Parramatta Rd, Victoria Rd and Glebe Point Rd and Newtown ultimately end up.

This morning, Clover Moore has again called for trams on George St.  It is not entirely clear why people who could easily interchange for Cityrail now and get a faster trip but don't would want to bother with doing this.  Perhaps the tram will be free or there will be a reasonable fare structure in the future?  Even if so, it is likely that such a move will encourage commuters to drive in to the CBD, the exact opposite of sustainability and good policy outcomes.

George St can be improved a little in the morning peak though.  Upgrading the bus lane between King St and Hunter St to a bus only lane would prevent taxis from blocking buses.  However, buses need to be able to get off George St relatively easily also.  One possibility is turning up Margaret Street, however it would be quite tight when a car is waiting to turn left out of Margaret St lane 2.  You could close this lane to eastbound traffic, but that is probably overkill.  An option is moving the stop line back, a la Cribb St, Milton, Qld.  These options largely depend on increasing Margaret St's westbound capacity between Clarence and York Sts.  Another option is increasing the Grosvenor/Harington Sts move a la L37, X04, 502.

There are a few options for buses from Victoria Rd:
  1. Turning left from Druitt St up Clarence St
  2. Using Bathurst St and turning left on to Elizabeth St
  3. Serving the southern end of town instead.
  4. Continuing along Park St.
Late last year, STA re-routed some buses via Bathurst St however, it is not entirely clear what possible advantage this had as they still join the George St bus jam.  Perhaps the original idea was to turn right at George St and serve the universities as well as businesses from Town Hall to Central, but it got mangled.  I think either that happens which would help quite a bit for some, or the peak only Victoria Rd buses should turn up Victoria Rd.

One other change which will help enormously is to increase the amount of interchange.  A number of commuters would benefit from getting off the bus at Newtown and then continuing their trip in to town on Cityrail.  This would allow less buses to come in to town, even if the routes still continue as the routes could see their seats/spaces filled more than one time per trip.  Fares are a large obstacle to achieving this.

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