Low Cost Ways of Reducing Congestion

What follows is a study I made some time ago into low cost ways of reducing congestion along Moggill Rd, a key through road that goes through Kenmore Brisbane near where I live.  The study is of general interest because many of the identified problems and solutions are applicable for a wide range of urban situations.

Moggill Rd suffers from serious congestion during morning and evening peak travel periods.  Doing something about this congestion is attractive because:

  1. It affects a large number of people

  2. There are plenty of smart, very low cost actions that could make a significant contribution.

  3. There is potential for low cost trials of various ideas.

  4. Many of the ideas could be applied in other areas

  5. Any credible solution will reduce car trips and/or emissions.

Disclaimers:

I (John D) am not a transport expert

Approach:

What follows are a few low cost ideas that are examples of what might be done. For simplicity, the examples I used are mainly based on morning congestion for the 5km strip between Kenmore plaza and Coronation Drive as well as travel from Southbank to the Tilbrook (Chapel Hill) bus stop, route 425 near where I live.

General strategies to reduce congestion:

  1. Reduce the need

  • Work at/close to home.

  • Commute fewer days per week.

  1. Move the need – avoid congestion by:

    • Choose workplace and home location so that travel avoids congestion.

    • Replace some weekday workdays with weekend workdays.

    • Work part of day at home to avoid peaks.

    • Move travel time away from peak.

  2. Change the mode.  ( Use bus/train/ferry/bike etc instead of car.)

  3. Use car sharing. (For Moggill electorate, at least 92% of car commutes are driver only.)

  4. Increase road capacity /remove bottlenecks

Comment: Working at home or riding a bike to work every working day has disadvantages. It may make sense to run a “One Day a Week” campaign aimed at encouraging car drivers to use an alternative to car driving commutes one day per week. Reduces commute emissions and contribution to congestion by a useful 20%.

Background Information:

Kenmore Plaza to Indooroopilly Shopping Center :

    1. Western freeway is clogged all the way back to Moggill Rd during morning peak. (Disincentive to use Western Freeway to avoid Moggill Rd congestion.)

    2. Last Western Freeway exit before city end of freeway discharges onto middle of stretch near Ootana Rd. Map (Most of this traffic turns towards Indooroopilly.)

    3. Eight significant traffic streams enter along stretch.

    4. Eleven sets of traffic lights along stretch. This includes 3 pairs with a gap of less than 150 metres between the paired lights. In addition, there are 6 sets of lights over a one km stretch.

    5. Traffic wanting to get from Kenmore onto the Western Freeway going away from city can:

      • Turn right just after Moggill Rd goes under Freeway. OR

      • Turn right into Fig Tree Pocket Rd about half way along stretch.  (Difficult – no traffic lights to help.)

      • Avoid the stretch by taking long route using Kenmore + Fig Tree Pocket Rds. (Not sure how congested these roads are.)

See appendices at end of notes for additional background information.

PROPOSAL 1: Feeder Bus Concept

It would make sense to replace many low volume, low frequency bus routes with shorter, high frequency feeder routes that use much smaller buses. The function of these feeder routes would be to move people to nearby transport hubs, railway stations, existing high frequency bus routes and/or shopping centers. The potential benefits of this proposal include:

  1. Encourages more people to switch to public transport by reducing waiting time.

  2. Reduces noise, costs and the difficulty of threading large buses through suburban streets.

  3. Reduces walking distance by making it more more practical for the bus to pick up and set down passengers all along parts of the route. (Instead of bus stop only.)

  4. Makes it more practical to integrate bus and rail travel. (Integration is only practical if all parts of the trip are high frequency.)

  5. Makes it easier to reduce the number of buses travelling between transport hubs.

NOTE: Under some circumstances the feeder bus might operate as a Taxi bus that takes/picks up people where they live. Particularly attractive at night or wet weather.

EXAMPLE – ROUTE 425:

Route 425 runs from the CBD to Kenmore shopping center via the Indooroopilly shopping center.. The main function of the route is to service the area on the Mt Coutha side of Moggill Rd between Burbong and Bielby Rd. Most of this area is too far away from Moggill Rd to conveniently walk to the high frequency routes along Moggill Rd. (For map and timetable see here.) For most of the time there is no need to run 425 buses between Indooroopilly shopping center and the CBD. Other bus routes or the train have excess capacity.

Problems with route 425:

Since moving to Brisbane, I have used car only, car + rail and bus to go to work.

Public transport has the attraction of providing time to plan the day and wind down while travelling to and from work. For me, the problem with the bus is that the service is poor and expensive. For route 425:

  1. Only one 50 seat bus every 30 mins most of day

  2. Drops to one bus an hour ex Queen St after 7.25 PM

  3. No service between 11.25 PM and 8.15 AM.

  4. For 4 pm departure from Queen St bus station the trip takes about 40 mins compared with 45 mins on my mountain bike and 20 mins by car.

  5. According to current GOCARD rates peak hour fare is $4.91per trip compared with about $1.00 to drive an already owned car (5 litres/100km – fuel @ $1.60/litre) to CBD. (That is about $2000/yr for the bus Vs $460/yr for the car assuming free parking.)

  6. Even the off-peak concession fare ($1.97) is about twice the cost of driving the car with no passengers.

  7. Route goes all the way to CBD– even if not many passengers on bus.

NOTE: Part of the problem with fares is that governments have a “user pays” mentality. However, the reality is that the user is not the only one that benefits when a car driver decides to use public transport. Every one using the road will will benefit from reduced congestion when someone switches to public transport. In addition, increased use of public transport may avoid the need for expensive road upgrades.

It is also worth noting that appendix B below points out that the average 50 seat bus carries only 8.5 passengers. Making fares more competitive may actually increase income per bus.

Calculations:

Base: Current System

For most of the weekday the service averages 1×50 seat bus every 30 mins. For this case:

Time for round trip =86 mins

Number of 50 seat buses =2.9 (Average buses running to provide service.)

Seats per hr =100

Time between buses =30 minutes

All the options below are based on 50 seater buses being replaced with 10 seater mini-buses.

It is assumed that there is excess capacity on the high frequency routes that the feeder buses link to.

Option 1.1: Premium Option:

Route 425 stays the same except that it will no longer run between Indooroopilly Shopping Center and the CBD. The timetable suggests that this shorter round trip will take about 42 minutes

If number of buses providing the service remains the same as base:

Number 10 seat buses =2.9

Seats per hr =41

Time between buses =14.6 minutes

If number of seats per hour remains the same as base:

No. 10 seat buses =7.0

Seats per hr =100

Time between buses =6 minutes

Option 1.2: Minimalist option:

As for premium except that when the bus exits Burbong St it returns to Bielby Rd via Moggill Rd instead of going to Indooroopilly shopping center. This will reduce the round trip to about 28 minutes. Direction may reverse during the afternoon so that travel along Moggill Rd will be in the less congested direction.

If number of buses providing the service remains the same as base:

Number 10 seat buses =2.9

Seats per hr =62

Time between buses =9.8 minutes

If number of seats per hour remains the same as base:

No. 10 seat buses =4.7

Seats per hr. =100

Time between buses =6 minutes

Discussion: If anything, these results are conservative because:

  1. Smaller, more nimble buses should take less time that 50 seaters to cover the same part of a route.

  2. No account is taken of savings in walking time if travellers are allowed to hail buses anywhere along route. (Except along Moggill Rd.)

  3. There may be better routes.

PROPOSAL 2: Reducing Traffic Light Delays

We have all suffered avoidable delays at traffic lights when:

  1. We are sitting at a red light even when it would be safe to ignore the red light.

  2. We spend a long time getting through an intersection because it takes a number of light cycles before it is our turn to go through the intersection. (This problem can be reduced by increasing the length of the light cycle.)

Option 2.1: Smarter Traffic Lights

The basic principal here is that traffic light changes would be controlled to take account of what is going in the area at the time. The simplest system might start the light change when traffic has stopped flowing past a green light. (Up to some time limit.) This option will reduce both the above avoidable delays.

More sophisticated versions may make better decisions by taking account of what other lights are doing and traffic conditions further away from the light being controlled.

Option 2.2: “Give Way Lights”

For this option the red light is replaced by a light showing a “give way sign” for intersections where visibility and simplicity makes it is safe to do so. When the give way light is on the rules re entering the intersection would be the same as if there was a normal give way sign at the intersection.

This option avoids time lost sitting at a red light when it is safe to proceed. It may also reduce delays for other traffic that would have to stop to allow the car held up by the traffic to enter.)

NOTES:

  1. It may be safer to continue to have a red light that stops the traffic before the switch to the give way light is made.

  2. “Stop sign lights” may make sense for intersections with poorer visibility.

  3. The principle could be extended to pedestrian crossings.

Option 2.3: Use Super Street Concepts

Super Streets deal with traffic light delays by reducing the need for traffic lights Key features are:

  1. Traffic entering from a side street must turn left. The road is designed so that this left turning traffic merges into the main traffic stream in the same way as it does on freeways.

  2. Traffic that wants to cross an intersection or turn right does this by first turning left then taking a right turn at a designated “U” turn. The “U” turn is designed so that traffic exiting the “U” turn merges with the main traffic stream without having to stop.

  3. If necessary, over or underpasses could be used to avoid the need for pedestrian/bike traffic lights.

  4. The video that goes with the link suggests that large trucks that want to turn right or cross the inersection will go through intersections in the normal way. This avoids for “U” turns large enough to allow large trucks to turn.

The above link reported that one study in the US found that the super street gave a 20 percent overall reduction in travel time compared to similar intersections that use conventional traffic designs,” They also found that super street intersections experience an average of 46 percent fewer reported car collisions and 63 percent fewer collisions that result in personal injury.”

Useful gains can be made by using only part of the super street concept.

Example: Lights at Russell Tce and Woodville St/Taringa Pde entries to Moggill Rd

These two sets of lights are only 150 m apart. During morning peak hours this closeness causes problems because a red light at Woodville stops traffic flowing at Russell Tce even when it has a green light at Russell Tce. The combination is also a key bottleneck. Traffic flows a lot more freely after it has passed these lights. (NOTE: Taringa and Woodville are opposite each other.)

Stage 1: Allow left turning traffic leaving Russell Tce to merge with main traffic.

All the traffic leaving Russell Tce already turns left. However, traffic lights are used to control this entry. A major source of delays for both Russell Tce and Moggill Rd morning traffic.

An extra traffic lane starts about 75 m before Russell Tce and ends about 100 m after Taringa Pde. The section of this lane between Russell and Taringa is left turn (into Taringa) only.

Suggested action:

  1. Make all traffic in the outer lane of Moggill Rd turn into Russell Tce. This will require new signs, road marking changes and possibly a barrier to make sure this traffic does turn left.

  2. Consider changing the markings on the outer lane between Russell and Taringa to allow traffic to have more room to merge with main traffic stream.

All this action is very low cost.

At the end of stage 1, traffic lights will only stop traffic exiting Russell Tce when they are used to allow pedestrians to cross the road. Traffic lights will only stop traffic moving along Moggill Rd towards the CBD when they are used to allow pedestrians to cross and allow traffic travelling away from the CBD on Moggill Rd to turn right into Russell. None of these are major issues during the morning peak hour.

Stage 2: Install a “U” turn (just before Station Rd?) so that all traffic exiting Taringa Pde can turn left.

Suggested action:

  1. Install “U” and associated road markings and signs.

  2. Modify exit from Taringa to allow traffic to merge into traffic along Moggill.

  3. Change signs and road markings to force all traffic exiting Taringa to turn left.

At the end of stage 2 traffic lights will only stop traffic travelling along Moggill towards the CBD and exiting Taringa when the lights are used to allow pedestrians to cross the road or traffic travelling along Moggill away from the CBD to turn right into Taringa.

Comment: The “U” would be easier to justify if it was part of a plan to turn Burbong Rd and Freeway exit into “left turn only” exits and to remove the need for traffic travelling along Moggill towards the CBD to turn right to enter the freeway.

PROPOSAL 3: Smart Re-routing of Traffic

Example: Reduce delays due to the way traffic from Benson St gets into Toowong Shopping Centre

Moggill Rd becomes High St a bit before High St turns right at the Toowong Shopping Center. Traffic going to the CBD then goes through a traffic light before turning left via another traffic light into Benson St. Benson St turns into Coronation drive shortly afterwards.

The section after High street turns right is a significant bottleneck because there are two traffic lights less 100 metres apart. The problem is accentuated because traffic from Benson St going to the the Toowong shopping center or Sherwood St uses the first set of traffic lights to cross the traffic flowing along High St towards the CBD.

Suggested action:

Stop traffic going from Benson St to the shopping center of Sherwood Rd via High St, at least during peak hours. Traffic from Benson St wanting to go to the shopping center or Sherwood Rd would go instead via Sylvan Rd and Bennett St.

APPENDIX A: COMMUTE TRAVEL, CAR OWNERSHIP and OCCUPATION

MOGGILL ELECTORATE

See: ABS 2011 CENSUS (Also links to more data and other areas)

Travel to work, top responses

Moggill

%

QLD

%

AUS

%

Employed people aged 15 years and over

Car, as driver

13,857

58.9

1,248,542

61.2

6,059,972

60.2

Bus

1,425

6.1

67,191

3.3

301,187

3.0

Car, as passenger

1,127

4.8

125,269

6.1

537,638

5.3

Train, car as driver

358

1.5

12,688

0.6

77,819

0.8

Bicycle

324

1.4

21,575

1.1

103,914

1.0

 Other

27.3

People who travelled to work by public transport

2,770

11.8

154,773

7.6

1,046,721

10.4

People who travelled to work by car as driver or passenger

15,045

63.9

1,378,983

67.6

6,620,840

65.8

Car, driver only =At least 54.1% (92% of car commutes)

Number of registered motor vehicles per private dwelling

Moggill

%

QLD

%

Australia

%

None

394

2.6

110,842

7.2

665,852

8.6

1 motor vehicle

4,068

27.0

547,575

35.4

2,778,576

35.8

2 motor vehicles

7,039

46.6

575,735

37.2

2,802,468

36.1

3 or more vehicles

3,398

22.5

267,081

17.3

1,279,134

16.5

Number of motor vehicles not stated

195

1.3

46,071

3.0

234,292

3.0

At least 96% of private dwellings had at least one car, 69% had at least two.

Occupation

Moggill

%

QLD

%

Aus

%

Employed people aged 15 years and over

Professionals

8,345

35.5

385,581

18.9

2,145,442

21.3

Managers

3,816

16.2

245,606

12.0

1,293,970

12.9

Clerical and Administrative Workers

3,389

14.4

299,326

14.7

1,483,558

14.7

Technicians and Trades Workers

2,158

9.2

304,563

14.9

1,425,146

14.2

Sales Workers

2,084

8.9

199,634

9.8

942,140

9.4

Community and Personal Service Workers

1,878

8.0

202,978

10.0

971,897

9.7

Labourers

1,005

4.3

215,235

10.6

947,608

9.4

Machinery Operators And Drivers

491

2.1

149,322

7.3

659,551

6.6

APPENDIX B: REDUCTION TO BUS SERVICES ANNOUNCED (7 Mar 2013)

(Contains useful data on bus system and loadings)

KEY POINTS:

Number of bus routes to disappear because of low patronage=111 out of 446 (25%) NOTE: The article also said that:

  1. The number of bus routes across south-east Queensland will be slashed from 446 to 335 following a detailed review of services which found more than half carry fewer than seven people. However, elsewhere in the article it was said that: A total of 29 routes are expected to be axed, 87 changed and 102 “improved”. It is not clear to what extent those serviced by disappearing routes will be taken care of by modifications to other routes.

  2. Number of extra high frequency bus routes= up 7 from current 19 (37%)

  3. Over the past three years, patronage had improved just 0.5 per cent despite 22% increase in expenditure.

  4. Average 50 person bus carries only 8.5 passengers (17% loading.)

  5. 52 per cent of services carry fewer than seven passengers.

  6. Fares have increased more than 60 per cent in the last four years.

  7. Services with standing passengers – 13,756 (3.1 per cent)

  8. Services with an average load of one or fewer – 27,241 (6.15 per cent)

(Source: Robyn Ironside, The Courier-Mail, March 07, 2013)

This translink media release gave some additional information. Other recommendations included:

  1. A more simplified route number system, reducing duplication

  2. Providing outbound routes heading in a similar direction with a superstop within Brisbane’s CBD

  3. Better integration between suburban buses and high-frequency bus or train services

  4. Setting up the Gold Coast network to integrate with light rail.

  5. Address infrastructure constraints (eg. Cultural Centre) by reducing fewer near-empty buses entering the CBD.

18 thoughts on “Low Cost Ways of Reducing Congestion”

  1. Excellent work, John D. Congratulations!!! 🙂

    Only problems are:
    (1) Car marketers would be horrified – so too would the builders of “long parking lots”. Your proposals, sensible and very practical though they are, would chop right into their money-making.

    (2) The owners of shopping complexes would scream like banshees if anyone touched their sacred transport hubs. They depend on bus stations to top up the herd of suckers they get into their shopping dens.

    Again, congratulations on a splendid job.

  2. Hi JD and welcome back – you have been missed.

    Amazing amount of work to bring up this post and a good deal of creative and analytical thought.
    I was pleased you did not suggest another tunnel, They are an enormous drain n State budgets and from a northern Queenslanders perspective, an unfair allocation of limited State funds.

    It would take a government of considerable resolve to take up your approach, and especially if it were to apply the concepts across multiple areas. It could happen, but it is not a certainty yet.

    A feature of improving road travel performance is that it can generate more traffic. The convenience of better roads actually encourages car use and so the beneficial improvements do not endure. An American comment I once read suggested a new freeway lasted just five years before being “full”.

    Perhaps what we need is some regulatory strength that limits the traffic to certain areas during the work week. London city does this – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_congestion_charge (sorry to cite Wiki) and it works pretty well. It also raises a huge amount of revenue.
    It also encourages a park-and-ride culture which is alive and well in the UK. Adelaide has its O-bahn. Sorry, another Wiki link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O-Bahn_Busway

    Some of this falls outside JD’s low cost parameters but we need to consider all things.

  3. A park and ride scheme, would, I think, need to be around the Kenmore shopping centre area, which would almost certainly have to be high rise, and quite expensive.

    Also the road was originally one lane each way, and widening beyond the present two lanes would be difficult.

    I travel the road John is referring to multiple times a week, but always against the traffic. When I have to go with the traffic at congested times I use The Gap Creek Road and Dillon Road around the back of Mt Coot-Tha, which has been upgraded, but in such a way as to follow the land forms through the bushland and discourage high traffic.

    It really needs someone in city council with John’s analytical skills and lateral thinking. Could be a gig for you there, John!

  4. I have spent a large part of my career working as a mineral process engineer and operating manager looking for smart, low cost ways of increasing throughput, product recovery and reducing costs. Quite a lot of this work has involved making better use of control systems and minor mechanical changes. It is this way of looking at things that is behind the above article.
    My approach contrasts with the Newman civil engineering approach that is more focused on solving problems by adding traffic lanes, new bridges and tunnels.
    We need both approaches, but unfortunately politicians find it easier to promote civil engineering monuments rather than subtle means of getting more out of what we have.
    BTW I have no objections to cars and transport hubs when they are used sensibly.

  5. John, you’ve certainly shown we can do better basically with what we’ve got.

    It’s interesting that my young son has forsaken his budding job as a software developer and gone back to operations research, where he can use his mathematical skills to improve operations. Fortuitously the firm he’s joined works mostly for miners, where he did work last year.

    He has a thing about engineers. He needs data before he can even start, and they are not very good at gathering it!

  6. Brian: A lot of engineering requires intuition, lateral thinking and judgement based on limited information. This is particularly true of things like mineral processing, mining and civil engineering where the data is fuzzy and expensive to obtain. Can understand your son’s frustration.

  7. Operations research seems a much-neglected area with plenty to offer in improving efficiency (cost reductions, time saved, reduction in waste, etc.)

    Good work, JD!

  8. Ambigulous, operations research doesn’t come cheaply, so only big firms can afford it. In Brisbane the companies in that space seem to be mostly working for mining companies.

    But when big companies make changes they seem to do it according to mad cap management fads rather than rational research.

  9. Wikapedia had this to say about operations research:

    Operations research, or operational research in British usage, is a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions.[1] Further, the term ‘operational analysis’ is used in the British (and some British Commonwealth) military, as an intrinsic part of capability development, management and assurance. In particular, operational analysis forms part of the Combined Operational Effectiveness and Investment Appraisals (COEIA), which support British defence capability acquisition decision-making.

    It is often considered to be a sub-field of mathematics.[2] The terms management science and decision science are sometimes used as synonyms.[3]

    Employing techniques from other mathematical sciences, such as mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, and mathematical optimization, operations research arrives at optimal or near-optimal solutions to complex decision-making problems. Because of its emphasis on human-technology interaction and because of its focus on practical applications, operations research has overlap with other disciplines, notably industrial engineering and operations management, and draws on psychology and organization science. Operations research is often concerned with determining the maximum (of profit, performance, or yield) or minimum (of loss, risk, or cost) of some real-world objective. Originating in military efforts before World War II, its techniques have grown to concern problems in a variety of industries.[4]

  10. GH: I get a bit sick of hearing the “induced demand” argument

    A feature of improving road travel performance is that it can generate more traffic. The convenience of better roads actually encourages car use and so the beneficial improvements do not endure.

    To some extent induced demand would be better labelled “diverted demand”. (As a route becomes more congested some people switch to other routes and then switch back to the old route when congestion is reduced.)
    It becomes an excuse to do nothing about improving transport. It is worth noting that most of the things in the post will also speed up bus trips as well as car trips.
    One thing that I didn’t mention was the irrational way toll decisions have been made in Brisbane. All the toll roads,, bridges and tunnels are congestion bypasses while, unlike many cities overseas, there are no tolls on congested roads or travelling into the inner city. Public transport fares are also much higher than the cost of using an already owned car.

    1. John like it or not induced demand happens and is well accepted as a part of traffic management. I know you understand it.
      If you are saying there are additional ways to improve flows that is clearly the case – your post shows that very well.

      My preference would be simply to reduce the number of cars. If the driver-less car works out that has the chance of greatly reducing traffic. But that is a few years away yet and the idea far from proven. In the meantime we are stuck with new roads, more traffic and a few efficiency initiatives. To that you might add a policy that actively discourages traffic and encourages public transport.

      I thought your mention about which roads are “tolled” was good. I don’t know about relative costs of private cars versus buses. If you take depreciation into account the story might be different.

  11. GH: You might have noticed near the end of my post that the average number of passengers in a 50 seat bus used for Brisbane public transport is only 8 despite most of Brisbane being served by a low frequency bus service. (Low is no more than one bus every 30 mins.) If you take out the average passengers per bus for peak hour travel the figure is going to be much lower than 8. Hardly a profitable service despite the very high fares.
    You might also like to play with google maps and compare public transport and car trip times for various trips around Brisbane. (Buses are not too bad for travel to and from the CBD but become very unattractive if you want to travel across the city.)

    1. Thanks JD. Average loads for bus services is really a policy issue. Here in Cairns I see buses as late as 10:30pm growling along with no passengers. And they are full size buses. You wonder why but the drivers are being paid for the whole shift and the extra miles on the bus are maybe considered marginal.

      Can you argue that more frequent services attract more passengers? I think it would be hard to sort that out but it is likely very related to time of day due to work or even sporting events. But if there were more induced passengers because of increased frequency would that justify the additional costs?

      I used Google maps to get around but have no idea how good they are for making decisions. I’m inclined to give them a sort of Wikipedia ranking at this time.

      My thoughts keep returning to London where travel by train/bus/taxi was the norm. Not always fantastic but as a tourist I reckoned their determined solutions were working pretty well. You are very right about tweaking the efficiency side of public transport and traffic generally in Brisbane (and many other places).

  12. I’m amazed at the average being as low as 8. I have three choices, the Bardon route, the Ashrove/The Gap route down Waterworks Road, and The Gap buzz bus, which takes a different route. The frequency is quite high. Sometimes there aren’t too many people on board, but almost always more the 8.

  13. GH: The Seoul underground grid works like a charm. Our experience (the whole week) was that trains came every few minutes (which made trips needing a train switch still very practical.) Seoul has a population of about 12m.
    On the other hand, If the Seoul population dropped to 1.2 m and the number of people per train stayed unchanged the train wait would increase to about 30 mins, a not very attractive service at all. The point I am making is that public transport is a lot more attractive when a large number of people use a particular route.
    It is useful to think of public transport service at two levels:
    -A basic service that provides transport for those who don’t have access to a car. (Frequency might be one bus every hr or even less.)
    -A competitive bus service that is frequent and reliable enough to compete with cars. (Say one bus at least every 15 mins.)
    Most of Brisbane is served by routes that are not frequent enough to compete with cars unless you can organize your travel to coincide with bus timetables and are willing to put up with buses disappearing from time to time. (It was the disappearing that convinced me to switch to car commuting and put up with parking costs.)
    Brisbane public transport is very CBD centric with reasonable services along the main routes to the CBD and lousy services if you don’t want to go to the CBD. So perhaps it is unsurprising that about 78% of commutes to the CBD use active or public transport while a clear majority of othe commutes use cars.

  14. JD I see the government has read your posts and has moved to reduce bus fares in Brisbane. About $210million revenues forgone I think.
    It will be interesting to see how elastic the passengers are and if it changes anything.

  15. GH: Not sure how many people will change habits as a result of the fare changes. It will still be cheaper to drive an already owned car. However, the savings will be enough for some commuters to have got to a tipping point where transport decisions will not be made on the basis of relative cost.
    In addition, many people’s decisions re public transport are driven by things like service frequency and ability to get a seat.
    Also keep in mind that public transport does come with advantages compared with cars. For example, I have used public transport time to wind down after work, plan for the day and do things like read a book – things that you can’t do driving a car to and from work.
    In the Brisbane context it is worth noting that Brisbane ferries used to have a lot of tourists on board enjoying the very pleasant river trip. After the last fare increase they simply disappeared and I assume that the fare increase actually made the ferries more expensive to run because of lost custom. I think fare reductions for offpeak travel should have been reduced harder to encourage more people to use public transport when there is plenty of excess capacity.
    In terms of paying for the fare reductions and removal of tolls on congestion bypasses the logical thing to do is to levy a congestion charge. (A small charge with a low daily cap of say $2 should be sufficient.) Lots of cities around the world use congestion charging.)

  16. I like the London congestion charge. When visiting six years ago, we saw it cease at six pm in the West End, so evening tourists were not paying ‘after hours’. Also there was the opportunity to pay the next day if a driver had inadvertently gone into the congestion zone and hadn’t prepaid.

    Seemed well accepted by locals.

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