Public Transit ain't that great

A couple of weeks ago, there was a puff piece in the local newspaper about a guy and his wife (and teenaged daughter) don’t drive, don’t even have a car. They catch public transport everywhere, and it works for them.

Adelaide is a funny place. It’s not really densely enough populated to have a first-class transit system, and because it isn’t really that good, not many people use it. This is possibly also in part due to how easy it is to drive everywhere in Adelaide, including into the CBD.

I’m a big fan of public transport, it just isn’t working that well here right now.

I used to work in the CBD, and if you live/work/play/study in the CBD, then Adelaide’s public transport is fine. I used to be able to stagger up the hill to the nearest (well, second nearest, as they closed the nearest) railway station, and as long as I was there by 8:02 am, I would be in time for work. Unless a freight train happened to come along at 8:01am, and I wasn’t able to cross the tracks until too late to catch my train!

I had another option, which was to wander a little bit down the hill, and catch a bus. But buses are much less reliable (yes, even than our pathetic train system here in little old Adelaide). Since I am near the terminus, then theoretically, the buses shouldn’t be late, unless the previous bus was so late that it made this run late. Which happened about 50% of the few times I caught the bus into town. The train was more convenient anyway, since it (usually) stopped closer to my work.

This year is a different matter. I am studying at the University near my house. It takes about two “three-minute pop songs” to get there by car. Seven minutes. And that’s from my driveway, to the carpark that is a one-minute walk from my building. Meaning I can leave home at 8:50, and even if the traffic is slow, still make it to a 9:00am lecture on time. If I’m going to a 12 noon lecture, I need to leave earlier, since there is never enough parking, but that is another matter.

Actually, I guess it’s related to what I’m about to rant about.

If I catch the bus to said 9:00am lecture, guess what time I need to be at the bus stop? Remembering that the transit time for a car was 7 minutes.

I need to be at the bus stop a full hour before my class starts.

One hour.

If the bus is on time, which is unlikely, then I’ll be early for my class. If the bus that is scheduled for half an hour later was on time, then I’ll arrive just in time for class. However, the buses are never on time. I don’t know if they are early or late, as it’s hard to say whether the bus that actually arrives is 3 minutes early, or 27 minutes late. I have had instances of me having been at the bus stop well before the due time of the bus, and having had to wait 45 minutes.

Now, this bus is traveling against the “peak” flow of traffic, and it is still managing to be off schedule.

I used to live on a bus route that was better serviced, but then I was traveling into town, but more importantly, it was a “smart” bus stop that told me how long it was before the next bus was coming. This would be useful for me now, since I can walk 10 minutes down the road to another bus route (but, let it be said, that doesn’t seem to make any difference to my travel and wait times, as the buses all come at the same time!) However, since I am going “against the flow” in terms of my direction, it is likely they wouldn’t even bother with e-boards on my side of the road.

I think one of the problems is that the transit authority in Adelaide don’t like to change timetables. They see this as a big issue, and will only change timetables about once or twice every three years.

Traffic conditions change much more regularly than this. I’d like them to reexamine every couple of months, and tweak the service. The worst thing about the system is that it doesn’t meet it’s timetables. Why not change the timetables? Make it a realistic setup, instead of forcing the drivers to stick to timetables that obviously aren’t maintainable.

I’d really like to see a decent electronic system. A combination of the smart stops, but better electronically available timetables. Not just PDF copies of the timetables on the website, but a proper, searchable system.

I envisage a Google maps-like page, where you can choose your start and finish points, and the system shows you all of the possible transit options between these points (including connections, if necessary), and when the vehicles are scheduled to run.

For instance, I could say I wanted to get into Adelaide from my house, and it would show me the next departure time of the train, and the bus, and the relevant arrival times.

I can currently use the “Nomad on Board” crappy system on my phone, but I need to know in advance the route numbers, and it’s really not efficient to compare them. And the times are out - it seems to think I’m in a different timezone to what I actually am anyway.

UK pair lose tickets in luggage

UK pair’s tickets caught behind - National - theage.com.au

… But when they arrived in Sydney yesterday morning they were told their luggage, in which the cricket tickets were packed, was still in England and would take three days to get here.

So let me get this straight. They didn’t carry their tickets in their hand luggage? That’s just plain stupid! It’s not like tickets are particularly bulky even! Whenever I take teams touring, they always pack all of the stuff they need for playing in their hand luggage, just in case the airline loses their checked stuff. And it’s a bit harder fitting playing gear and boots into hand luggage than some tickets in a small folder. They deserve to miss the match.

Texas trying to ban biodiesel

Autopia

Texas environmental officials have delayed a proposed ban of biodiesel fuel in the state to allow further studying of the emissions of biodiesel blends.

Really? And the oil companies let them delay the ban?

The skeptic might say that Texas regulators passed a law that exploits the one negative aspect of biodiesel to protect the oil industry in that state.

You don’t say.

Pedestrian Unfriendly Zones

I hate the growing trend in Urban areas for zones that are not pedestrian friendly. For instance, not having paved footpaths in residential streets makes it much harder for people to walk around their local community. This is especially evident in places like West Lakes, where everyone has a car. Hell, in Adelaide, _everyone _has a car. However, today after dropping my car off for a service, I began the long walk into town. I initially waited for the bus, but decided I’d wander into Bunnings first. So, I did. First bad point of Adelaide Roads, which is not a pedestrian issue, but rather a car issue. Where they’ve made the new connector between Deakin Terrace and Burbridge Road, or rather Don Bradman Drive, they’ve totally fucked things up. If you head South-West down the connector, you cannot go down Deakin Terrace, only South Road when you reach the end. Similarly, coming up from Deakin Terrace, you cannot head up the connector, but still only go North up South Road. Why the hell build a big expensive connector, and then don’t connect it up properly? But I digress. There is no footpath anywhere along said connector. I had to walk through garden beds, treading carefully around bark chips. And then into Bunnings, which is another notoriously unfriendly pedestrian area. I’m not sure if it’s so people cannot walk into the carpark and store, or if it’s so people cannot park there and go somewhere else. I guess as far as they are concerned, if people haven’t come in their cars, they aren’t going to be buying enough… Finally, I headed off from Bunnings and into town. And this was where things got worse. Not only was there no path on the northern side of the Hilton Bridges, but you cannot actually get through. I had to hike up and down a couple of hills, jump across safety barriers, and cross a road on a blind corner. By this stage, I was rather angry. Finally, to make my morning complete, I was attacked by a crazy little bird as I wandered through the parklands. I had to protect myself with the laptop case I was carrying.

Replace the Bee-line?

In the latest issue of Express, the TransAdelaide Newsletter, the main stories discuss the new tramline extension: Passengers on the new tram extension will travel free, replacing the Bee line bus. The 99B also services the West End, and is much more frequent than the 99C. If they do kill the whole Bee-line, they’d sure better increase the frequency of the City Loop!!

Mr Bean-alike

There is a man who catches my train in the mornings who looks an awful lot like Mr. Bean. I don’t mean he looks a bit like Rowan Atkinson, he really has the Mr. Bean expression and all. Oh, and I’m sitting right across from him. If this damn Zire 31 had a camera I’d take a photo.