General access services
1. Processes followed
The 2019-20 Budget provides $63.2 million for bus services which are available to the general public (known as General Access bus services), ensuring that this funding delivers the most efficient and cost effective network of bus services was a key objective of the bus network review undertaken.
Central to the review process were the objectives that the new public transport network provides better access to employment, education and services and improves the overall social connectivity of Tasmanians within the budgetary constraints of the government.
The new network that has been developed has been based on the following:
- A set of Network Purchasing and Design Approach principles
- An economic demand model called SWISS developed by the department to support allocation of bus services based on ‘like need’
- A set of Key Planning Principles
- A set of General Access Service Standard Tables
- Feedback from the community which we’ve been gathering via our website, phone and face to face discussions for the past two years.
- Consultations with bus operators, key stakeholder groups, councils and community groups
2. Current project status
The rollout of the new bus network is being staged.
The new network in the southern region changed on 20 January 2019.
Changes to the west coast were made on 10 March 2019, more information is available here.
For more information on the north and north west bus networks click here.
3. Area connect services
The bus network review is underpinned by a set of network design principles premised on providing similar services to similar areas taking into account population, distance from services and transport need.
Remoter communities with relatively small populations often have very few adults that utilise bus services to travel to the larger centres and are therefore not able to sustain or justify a daily bus service.
Towns like Bothwell, Ellendale, Bushy Park and Glenora, each with a population of less than 500 people fall into this category and are more suited to less than daily, demand responsive, smaller vehicle transport options that can be more flexible and match in with the needs of those in the community that don’t have their own vehicles and are seeking to travel to do their shopping and visit medical centres or friends. These sorts of communities cannot support commuter level or multi-trip services.
Throughout 2019 we have the opportunity to trial different tailored services and scenarios in the south east of Tasmania to assess and better understand what a transport solution to meet the needs of towns not connected to the public transport system might look like.
The Department of State Growth has been working in conjunction with Area Connect to undertake consultations with members of the Bothwell, Ouse/Hamilton, Kempton, Ellendale, Glenora/Bushy Park and Colebrook communities who would be likely to use a bus service to help design how we might run transport services in the future.
As a result of these consultations a number of new Area Connect services will commence in February 2019. More information on these services is available on the Area Connect website at www.areaconnect.org.au/service-timetable/
4. Devonport and Burnie urban bus review
As part of the general access review process, State Growth engaged consultants Phillip Boyle and Associates to undertake a detailed review of Devonport and Burnie urban bus networks.
The review included community workshops held in Burnie and Devonport.
The first round of workshops held in April enabled the community to raise what works well and what does not in respect of the current bus network.
This information will be used to help develop an improved public transport network in both centres.
Background presentations for the April workshops can be accessed here:
A second round of community workshops was held on the 23rd and 24th of May. These workshops focused on getting community views on the draft network to refine its development.
The background presentations for the May workshops can be accessed here:
After the community workshops, Phillip Boyle and Associates developed a final report recommending a new network. The final report can be accessed here.
The report recommended a new network that:
- Improves the directness and efficiency of each route.
- Provides more frequent services to areas of high demand, including proposed introduction of new Sunday services.
- Improves connections that are currently used by higher numbers of passengers.
- Provide access to key destinations that are important to the community.
State Growth have been working with the bus operators to develop timetables which include frequency and hours of operation. This enables us to gain a better understanding of the cost of the proposed services.
We have also been working with councils and bus operators on the design of the new routes, including any new infrastructure that will be required including new bus stops.
We have been consulting with adjacent land owners on the proposed location of new bus stops and also schools regarding the timetable of services, which affect them.
Depending on the outcome of this consultation there may be a need for changes to the proposed network, including bus routes, timetables and the hours of operation.
We are proposing to make changes to the network in early 2020.
We will provide more detailed information to the north west community on proposed changes later in 2019.
5. Project background
The Department of State Growth is responsible for contracting public transport services under the Passenger Transport Services Act 2011. Public transport services includes “general access” services provided by businesses such as Metro Tasmania, Merseylink, Redline and Tassielink that are accessible to all members of the public.
Under the Act, public transport services contracts can run for a maximum of 10 years. The first general access contract expires in late 2018, with most then expiring over the following six months. The process of establishing new bus contracts across the state has entailed a review of services and the opportunity to make improvements.
Dedicated tourist, charter and private bus services are not contracted by the Government and therefore not included in the bus services review.
6. Integration of services
The bus services review will bring a new level of integration to timetables at the state-wide level by having common timetables for areas, which will make it easier for passengers to get to where they need to go, as they will have more choice in services and common timetable information in the one spot.
The Tasmanian Government is working with Metro Tasmania to investigate common ticketing which passengers will be able to use a single means to access and pay for services on various public transport modes and across multiple operators.
7. Further information
Changes to bus services in the southern region occurred on 20 January 2019.
We will begin to start providing more information over the coming months for the north west and northern region, well in advance of any changes occurring, but if you’d like more information about general access services, you can contact us here.
8. SWISS model
The Department has developed an economic demand model called the State-Wide Iterative Service Standards (SWISS) model to help inform discussions with the community about possible network changes. This model allocates bus services to areas based on ‘like need’ (communities with similar transport demands) and likelihood of travel. SWISS assesses these needs by using socio-economic data such as population, low income residents, car ownership and the number of trip attractors in the area.
In most cases, areas with higher numbers of people will receive more bus services than areas with lower populations. The level of service is also adjusted if a population centre forms part of a longer, more populated bus route or is located close to a major population centre.
Services also need to attract enough passengers to ensure they will continue to be provided into the future. An important part of assessing whether an area is over or under serviced is looking at how many people use the service now. We know that more people use buses at peak weekday morning and afternoon travel times and there are fewer passengers at other times including evenings and weekends. The aim will be to provide an adequate level of service in areas where there are enough passengers, or where increases are likely to occur.
An important part of developing the public transport network has been talking to the existing bus operators and local communities to work out if, and how, the current service can be improved.
9. Key planning principles
While Tasmania’s existing public transport network is adequate, particularly in our urban areas, there are some areas which are not currently well serviced despite the demand and need for services. The development of new public transport network aims to provide cost effective services to areas based on the needs of the area, funded within the available government resources.
The improved network aims to provide better services by:
- Adopting a hierarchical approach: The intent of the new network is to provide services to areas equitably, but also to take into account the different needs of urban and non-urban communities. Areas with the most need and patronage receive a greater number of services. For example, the network provides more services in areas of high demand, such as central business districts, residential areas with higher numbers of people, and low income areas.
- Providing consistent and, where possible, frequent services: Services should run as consistently as possible throughout and across days of operation – that is, they should run at the same time every day, provided that enough people travel on them and that this can be funded. Passengers find it easier to understand timetables and use buses when the services are regular and predictable.
- Making routes simple and direct: Routes need to follow a direct path, avoiding long loops. This will make travel times quicker, but might mean that some people will have to walk further to get to the bus.
- Providing more cost effective services: The design of the bus network avoids duplication between routes or having routes too closely spaced together.
The routes we have designed consider the existing road environment and terrain as well as servicing areas where there are more people.
Where possible the network aims to coordinate different services, so that passengers can travel beyond their nearest major centre to other destinations. Better integration of services will make it easier for passengers to transfer between services and finish their trip in a reasonable time.
Changes to the public transport network will mean that services will increase in some areas but fall in others. Some people might also need to travel further to get onto a bus route. Once passengers are on the bus, the service will take them to where they are going more quickly, as the route will be more direct. This is a necessary redistribution of resources to ensure community needs are met in a fair and consistent manner.
The new public transport network aims to link smaller areas to their nearest major centre. These centres include Burnie, Devonport, Launceston, Hobart, Glenorchy, Rosny Park and Kingston. At these centres, some passengers might have to change to another service if they want to travel beyond their nearest centre, especially outside of travel peak times.
An inter-regional service will also connect Tasmania’s major cities, including Devonport to Launceston and Launceston to Hobart.
10. General access service standard tables
The Department has developed General Access Service Standards which describe the various levels of service that might be delivered to a community based on need and demand
These standards contain services tables which are based on a hierarchy, ranging from a high frequency link (such as Glenorchy to Hobart along Main Road) to a daily service (usually occurring in regional and rural areas, either operating every day or a couple of times a week).
The levels used for the bus services review are as follows:
- High frequency link (every 15 minutes)
- Premium link (every 30 minutes)
- Standard link (every hour, including weekends)
- Urban link (every hour, without weekends)
- Regional link (at least every two hours, with some weekends)
- Access link (at least three weekday return services)
- Daily link (daily return service)
- Community link (two inbound, two outbound per week)