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1The review process

The 2019-2020 Budget provides $63.2 million for bus services which are available to the general public (known as General Access bus services).

A key objective of the bus network review was ensuring that this funding achieves the right balance of smart route design and reducing travel times whilst making sure the services remain accessible and meet a broad range of transport needs. Central to the review process were the objectives that the new public transport network provides better access to employment, education and services and improve the overall social connectivity of Tasmanians within the funding available from 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
  • Targeted consultation with bus operators, key stakeholder groups, councils and community groups
  • Public consultation for the north and north west bus networks.

2Key planning principles

The improved network aims to provide better services by:

  • Adopting a balanced approach: The intent of the new network is to provide services to areas equitably, but also to take into account the different needs of 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, if possible 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 aims to avoid duplication between routes or having routes too close together.

Where possible the network aims to connect 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.

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.

3Area Connect services

The Government has contracted Area Connect to provide trial services to remoter communities with relatively small populations that can’t justify having a daily bus service because very few adults use the service.

The towns serviced have a population less than 500 (except Queenstown) which generally means they cannot sustain daily commuter bus services and are more suited to smaller vehicle transport options that can be operated with more flexibility to match the needs of those in the community.

Throughout 2019 and 2020 the government has had the opportunity to trial different tailored services and scenarios in the below listed areas to assess and better understand what transport solutions to meet the needs of towns not connected to the public transport system might look like. The towns that have been serviced by these Area Connect trial services include:

  • Ellendale, Busy Park & Glenora
  • Bothwell
  • Ouse & Hamilton
  • Colebrook
  • Maydena
  • Primrose Sands
  • Queenstown (to Hobart)

In February 2020, the trial services to Ellendale, Busy Park & Glenora, Bothwell, Ouse/Hamilton, Colebrook and Maydena were converted to fare paying services and extended for a further 12 months. The contracts for these trial services have an end date of February 2021. The Queenstown to Hobart service has a contract end date of July 2020.

More information on these services is available on the Area Connect website at www.areaconnect.org.au/current-timetables/

4Common ticketing & timetables

As part of rolling out new bus networks we have improved timetables so services are grouped by area, rather than by operator. This allows passengers to see all services available in their area and is part of the plan to make simpler and more convenient for passengers travelling on bus services around the state.

The government is also looking at a number of common ticketing solutions that will allow passengers to use the same method of payment regardless of which bus operator they are travelling with.

5Current project status

The rollout of the new bus networks is being staged.

The new network in the southern region commenced on 20 January 2019.

The new network in the north of the state commenced on 19 January 2020.

For information on when the North West bus network will commence, visit the Latest information on the North and North West bus networks page.

6General 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).

7For further information

Please feel free to contact us by phone or email using out contact details here

8SWISS model

The Department has developed a model called the State-Wide Iterative Service Standards (SWISS) to help inform possible network changes. This model allocates bus services to areas based on the community’s needs and the needs of community’s with similar transport demands. SWISS assesses these needs by using socio-economic data such as population, likelihood of travel, low income residents, car ownership and the number of points of interest in the area.

In most cases, areas with higher numbers of people will receive more bus services than areas with lower populations.

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 of the bus services review will be to provide a suitable level of service in areas where there are enough passengers, or where increases are likely to occur.