Do Buses Actually Ease Gridlock?

So some people think that adding more buses will solve our endemic transit gridlock, yet buses themselves contribute to traffic congestion.

There is a strong bus lobby that continually advocates buying more buses, yet when more buses are operated, congestion and gridlock just continues.

In Portland, transit official reckon that one tram or LRV, is as efficient ad six buses. Let us put this another way; one tram/LRV (one driver) is as efficient as six buses (six bus drivers) and for every tram/LRV or bus operated one needs to hire at least four people to drive, maintain and manage them.

Given a theoretical route that operates 15 trams and employsAi??60Ai??people, the same route would require 90 standard (non-articulated) buses and 360 people to operate the route.

Beside a vast savings in wages, 90 buses on a transit route would certainly cause a lot more congestion, leading to traffic gridlock, thanAi??15 trams.

A simple Portland Streetcar is as efficient as 6 buses.

Years more gridlock to come, bus study warns

Jacob Saulwick

August 8, 2011

BUS congestion between the Harbour Bridge and the city is costing commuters and the state about $13 million a year in lost revenue and wasted time, according to a report obtained by the Herald.

The report – commissioned but not released by the previous state government – shows the York Street bus stops near Wynyard, used by thousands of commuters from the north shore, northern beaches and north-west suburbs every day, were already operating at capacity by late 2008.

And, although planners have made several traffic changes in the area since, commuters will still have to wait years for any large-scale attempt to tackle the morning and afternoon gridlock.Ai??


Buses line up York St, Sydney CBD to drop of morning commuters on Friday 17th June 2011. Photograph by James Brickwood. SHD NEWS 110617

Jammed … buses line up York St, Sydney CBD to drop of morning commuters. Photo: James Brickwood

The 67-page Wynyard Bus Study by Booz and Co., released to the Herald under freedom of information, put the cost to commuters of the extra time spent waiting in clogged bus lanes about Wynyard at $9.2 million in September 2008.

The report found that the congestion also cost bus operators $2.5 million in lost ticket revenue and $1.2 million in extra operating costs.

If the problem was not addressed it would ”clearly result in some excessive queuing and delays,” the report said.

It said the bus precinct at Wynyard was already at 99 per cent capacity.

But commuters may draw little comfort from the fact that most of the quick-fix options suggested for improving congestion around Wynyard have since been taken.

If anything, bus congestion in the area has worsened because of the growing number of services to the city. The report predicted that 273 bus trips in the corridor between 8am and 9am would rise to 350 by 2016. That figure has already been hit.

One of the report’s main suggestions was to turn York Street at Wynyard into a drop-off only section in the morning peak. The measure, estimated to produce a 30 per cent improvement in traffic flow, was adopted late last year.

Another recommendation was to increase the number of three-door ”bendy” buses in the State Transit fleet. The third door makes it faster for passengers to alight and for the bus to keep moving.

State Transit has since bought 150 new bendy buses.

The report also offered several more ambitious suggestions which ”would have significant benefits for bus throughput” but at more cost or that would potentially hinder traffic in other parts of the city.

These included making use of old tram tunnels under Wynyard; building a ”set down island” on York Street to provide more space for drop-offs; and setting a Wynyard-style run of bus stops on Grosvenor Street.

None of these suggestions has been adopted.

The Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, said of the Wynyard crush: “This issue will be addressed as part of the transport masterplan to be developed by Transport for NSW.”

She has said the masterplan would not be ready this year.

A spokeswoman for the City of Sydney said improvements had been made since 2008.

”Clearing intersections so that buses are not blocked, having shorter signal times and clearing pedestrian build-up on surrounding roads are issues that still need to be addressed,” the spokeswoman said.

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