A portent of things to come?

Brisbane Australia has a showcase BRT system, yet transit costs are extremely high.

Maybe it is time to get back to basics about modern light rail and forget the capacity and density debates and build LRT for the economic reason, one tram and one tram driver is as efficient as 4 to 8 buses and 4 to 8 bus drivers. Added to the previous numbers, for every tram or bus operated, one needs no fewer than 3 people to drive, manage and maintain them.

LRT was, and is still built for economy.


Driving ‘cheaper than public transport’, say Queenslanders

Many survey respondents said they would use public transport if it was cheaper.

Many survey respondents said they would use public transport if it was cheaper. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Cameron Atfield
Published: June 22, 2015 – 8:39AM

Research has found Queenslanders were more convinced than people in any other Australian state that driving was a cheaper way to get around than public transport, prompting fresh calls for fares to be cut.

A survey by consumer research firm Canstar Blue found 72 per cent of Queenslanders agreed with the statement “I find it’s cheaper to drive than use public transport”.

That was well ahead of Tasmania (60 per cent), Western Australia (57 per cent), New South Wales (54 per cent), Victoria (53 per cent) and South Australia (50 per cent).

Canstar Blue spokesman Simon Downes said 3000 motorists were surveyed across Australia.

“Respondents in Queensland were by far the most convinced that driving is cheaper than using public transport, but Queenslanders do show a strong willingness to use it more, should costs reduce,” he said.

Forty-three per cent of Queensland respondents said they would drive less if public transport were cheaper, compared with 41 per cent in NSW and Victoria, 34 per cent in SA, 33 per cent in WA and just 20 per cent in Tasmania.

Robert Dow, from public transport advocacy group Rail Back on Track, said the results were no surprise.

“That confirms what we know, that fares in south-east Queensland are certainly the most expensive in Australia for the majority of commutes and, in terms of world ranking, we’re up in the top three or four as well,” he said.

Mr Dow said there needed to be an urgent review of the fare structure in south-east Queensland and the Palaszczuk government had been too slow to act since it came into power earlier this year.

“If it’s got to the point where people think it’s much cheaper to drive, it’s a fairly worrying situation,” he said.

“Because what can happen, unless the government bites the bullet here and does something significant with the fare system to encourage people on it, we could start to see service cuts.

“Now that would be absolutely calamitous for south-east Queensland.”

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Jackie Trad said: “We understand concerns regarding affordability of public transport, that’s why we promised an expert led review of the fare structure in SEQ to deliver a system that is fair, affordable and will boost patronage.”

The Canstar Blue survey also found Queenslanders spent an average of about $127 a month on fuel, less than Victoria ($140), SA ($134) and NSW ($133), but more than Tasmania ($118) and WA ($110).

“(Queenslanders) may not spend as much on fuel as others,” Mr Downes said, “but Queenslanders are the most likely to have days when they can’t afford to fill up.”

Thirty per cent of Queenslanders agreed with the statement “there have been days when I couldn’t afford to put fuel in my car”, compared with 28 per cent in NSW, 27 per cent in SA and WA, 25 per cent in Victoria and 22 per cent in Tasmania.


2 Responses to “A portent of things to come?”
  1. Haveacow says:

    The Brisbane Busway System was designed by MMM Consulting (Formerly McCormick Rankin Consulting) the same people who designed and built most of Ottawa’s Transitway System. So Ottawa’s Transitway is the father/mother or parent of the Brisbane Busway System. They avoided many of the operational issues of the Ottawa system by building a tunnel through most of the core of the city. It is refreshing to point out to people in Ottawa whom wanted a downtown Bus Tunnel instead of LRT because there bus tunnel sure didn’t solve the operational cost issues the Brisbane Busway has. The Brisbane Busway at peak is moving over 200 buses/ hour/direction and close to 14000 passengers/hour/direction during peak periods. With first world driver cost structures I bet the Brisbane Transit agency sure is smarting from the operational costs stresses. Although the attached article is mainly about lowering boarding costs to get more drivers to ride the system, I seriously doubt they can do that with this Busway.

    One of Ottawa’s biggest operational issue with the Transitway is that, so many buses are needed to run on the Transitway system proper that many other non Transitway routes are bursting at the seems and can’t get more buses to run on these routes. Unfortunately, such a great proportion of the bus fleet at anyone time during the peak is trapped on the Transitway no extra buses can be reassigned to the other routes that need them. This has forced Ottawa to build up a fleet that at one point had nearly 1100 buses. The current fleet has been reduced to 950 by using Double Deckers replacing standard buses on Peak Hour Express routes. For every 1 Double Decker bus put into service, 2 standard buses are retried. This has resulted in only a slight loss in the number of seats but a big operational cost savings for the system. This also helped reduced the load on OC Transpo’s completely over stretched bus maintenance system. Just switching to LRT operation in 2018 will save immediately $60 Million a year in operating over and above the bus and fuel operation costs and free up 135-150 buses for retirement or operation somewhere else on the system, not to mention anywhere up to 450 redundant bus drivers. The cost savings of reducing the number of drivers has not even been included in the $60 Million cost savings.

  2. Haveacow says:

    One more thing,

    One of the things Zwei’s picture doesn’t show you is the size of station you have to build if you really want to service this amount buses. What large scale BRT proponents don’t often show you when they say that, “sure BRT can handle high traffic situations as well as any rail technology”, is what the massively long 4 lane bus station and platform structures that has to be built to handle passenger flows in excess of 10,000 passengers/hour/ direction looks like and what it does to the surrounding area. Look up pictures of Brisbane’s Cultural Centre Station at the peak periods. Or pictures of some of the even busier systems in China and their mammoth surface BRT stations.
    Ottawa switched to LRT so it would not have to do this to our downtown and the pedestrian environment which this type of transport infrastructure totally destroys at this excessive level of service. Keep in mind, I am not against BRT at all but it does have some very severe operational limitations when the passenger numbers really become big and what you really have to build to service those big numbers properly.