Monday, February 28, 2011

Which Smartbus to Greensborough from Templestowe? Smartbus 901 or 902?

I decided to check out the Smartbus 901 and Smartbus 902 which both go to Greensborough from Templestowe via Williamsons Road. Both of these buses pass through the section of Williamsons Road from  Foote Street via Fitzsimons Lane to Main Road Eltham.

On the way to Greensborough I decided to take the 902. The bus was running quite late. In Eltham all of the passengers had to get off at Eltham Lower Park and get onto the following bus which was largely empty. The second bus was uncomfortably cold, such that I had to move seats. The lower seats were slightly better than the higher seats in the back in terms of warmth. The traffic was quite slow going through Eltham but picked up after that. I got off in front of the Greensborough Plaza.

On the way back I decided to try the Smartbus 901. The 901 does not go to the Plaza so I had to walk to Greensborough station. One thing I find disconcerting about the buses is you don't know if the bus will stop at the stop. I get a feeling if the stop isn't marked as a Smartbus stop the bus could go sailing past you. I've even found with my local bus stop they moved the stop without telling anyone and it was only because the bus driver let me know the bus stop had been moved that I had any idea. The timetable stated the bus stopped at Greensborough station but as you can see from the attached picture there was no 901 or 902 listed. I checked all the surrounding stops but couldn't find a stop listing the 901. Luckily the 901 pulled up whilst I was standing near the station as I really had no idea where to get the bus.

If I was a tourist travelling around Melbourne being told to get off the bus and not being able to find the bus stop would have certainly been an issue. In fact I watched one couple walking around checking all the stops and getting onto the bus to ask for assistance. A major stop like Greensborough station should be clearly sign posted and I don't think there should be any need for confusion.

If you are travelling from Templestowe (Atkinson Street/Williamsons Road) to Greensborough Plaza the problem with the 902 is the time it takes to get to Greensborough station is about 23 minutes plus an extra minute to get to Greensborough Plaza. The 901 take 17 minutes, doesn't go via Eltham and thus avoids the traffic bottleneck in Eltham in busy periods, but unfortunately doesn't go all the way to the Plaza requiring an extra five minute uphill walk.

For my trip the time taken using the 902 via Eltham was 33 minutes which is much more than the 23 minutes scheduled. In addition I had to wait another 10 minutes due to the late bus. My walking time to the bus was five minutes. I'd suggest making sure you were at the bus stop 5 minutes early. I've measured a number of buses going past stops a number of minutes earlier than they should. The total time from home to Greensborough Plaza for this trip was 48 minutes.

This wasn't meant to be a post comparing car travel time to the bus but I can't help feel a car trip at around 15 minutes door-to-door is far more effective. Should I stay longer and require more than a two hour ticket, the bus trip cost would exceed the cost of using a car. If there is more than one person travelling together if you own a car, the cost of using a bus for a short trip doesn't seem to make much sense.

The lessons learnt from this trip are:
  • You can use either the 901 or the 902
  • Keep in mind the 901 doesn't go to the Plaza so a walk is required
  • The traffic through Eltham can severely delay you if time is important
  • Arrive 5 minutes prior to your expected bus time
  • Make allowances for the bus to be late
  • If you want to catch 901 go to Greensborough station
  • If time is important a car is probably better
  • If there are multiple people travelling together a car is probably more cost effective
  • Watch the two hour Metcard limit as a delayed bus eats into the time available
  • Make sure you take a garment even on a hot day as the bus can be uncomfortable
I hope sharing this experience helps you with your next local bus trip.

Kelvin Eldridge

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