Friday, September 20, 2013

Hail & Ride! Here Is The Council Proposal To Assist Mount Druitt Commuters With Having A Mini Bus!

Both Blacktown City Councillors and also Blacktown City Council Officers are really passionate about assisting commuters of Mount Druitt, in obtaining a Shuttle bus going around the hub of Mount Druitt and maybe provided to the commuters of Blacktown as well, later on.

A lot of people think Council Officers do nothing and have a great job that provides lots of wages. I totally would defend Council Officers that I know as they have to plan for the future  of Blacktown's population as well as deal with decisions that currently affect our local government areas, to improve roads and transport with the area. Blacktown is in the forefront of improvement to public transport bus stops  by making these bus stops compliant to Disability Discrimination Act and ensuring  NSW for Transport as well as Local bus operators that cut services are well supported to be cut.

Blacktown City Council's research and report on the proposed 'Hail and Ride' is as below and the report that has been made to Council. Although, it proposes to match the route we  have proposed, it is heading in the right direction. If it is not accessible maybe Taxis (Accessible Taxis) could  take commuters that need access - something that I believe  a representative from the NSW Taxi Council agrees on!

You can click here on this link for the BCC Proposal for a Mini Bus

    Or you can read bellow and read the business paper that was presented to Council on 18th September 2013:
    City Assets

    Minute Number: Council Meeting Date: 18/09/2013

    Council meeting date: 18/09/2013 
    Report Number: CA330061

    Director City Assets Author: Toufaili RManager: Svarc R

    ITEM: <#> CA1028
    CA330061 - Free Minibus Shuttle Service in Mount Druitt
    FILE NUMBER: 38-17-1/19

      Hide details for REPORT ITEM:
  1. At its Ordinary Meeting on 26 June 2013 Council resolved that a report be prepared on the feasibility of a bus shuttle service for Mount Druitt CBD.
  2. This report details the costs associated with operating a shuttle bus based on Fairfield Council's model.
  3. There is one attachment to this report:
      Attachment 1 - Fairfield City Connect Community Bus Brochure

  1. At its Ordinary Meeting held on 26 June 2013 Council gave consideration to a matter raised in Business Arising concerning the feasibility of providing a bus shuttle service at Mount Druitt CBD.“Councillor Donaldson requested a report on the feasibility of running a mini-bus as a free shuttle bus in a loop around Mount Druitt. Could we actively seek advice from Fairfield Council about their free Community-Connect bus, how much it costs etc to run and could those writing the report approach the Mount Druitt Commuter Improvement Group about the route that they had designed in consultation with the local community."Council has received a number of previous enquires from the Mount Druitt Community Group Save Our Bus Service (S.O.B.S) for a free shuttle bus service from the Mount Druitt Railway Station to the Mount Druitt hospital via Shopsmart shopping centre. Council also resolved that representations be made for a shuttle service for Mount Druitt following the introduction of the Blacktown CBD bus shuttle service trial. Accordingly a number of representations were made to Transport for NSW (TfNSW) on behalf of S.O.B.S. and Council, however this service was not supported based on the investigation undertaken by TfNSW due to low patronage levels forecast by local bus operators.

    It should be noted that the State Government has recently cancelled the free shuttle bus service that had been operating in Blacktown CBD. The service ceased operation on 15 August 2013.
  2. The proposed Mt Druitt shuttle bus route preferred by S.O.B.S. was also the same route identified by Council Officers and forwarded to TfNSW for consideration. The route is shown as Attachment 1 to this report and involves the following:
    • North Parade between Railway Station and Sherbrooke Street
    • Sherbrooke Street between North parade and Railway Terrace
    • Railway Terrace between Sherbrooke Street and Luxford Road
    • Luxford Road between Railway Terrace and Mount Street
    • Mount Street between Luxford Road and North Parade

    This route would service the Mt Druitt Railway Station, TAFE, Chifley College, Loyola College, Rooty Hill RSL, Mount Druitt Hospital, Mount Druitt business and retail areas.

    Research indicates when planning for a new bus route, the following issues should be considered:
    • Consider steepness of dish crossing (bus scrapes)
    • Turning manoeuvres and turning restrictions
    • Consider not providing long loops in a one direction
    • Allow for a 20km/h for peak and 25 Km/h non-peak for average running times to determine timetables and bus hours
    • Do not operate during school hours
    • Approval for routes will need to be sought from Transport for NSW (TfNSW), and generally should not operate within an approved bus route.

    There are existing bus services along North Parade and near the Mount Druitt Hospital, however there are no bus services that provides a loop to service the Shopsmart shopping centre and nearby community services hub in Mt Druitt. However, recent advice from Transport for NSW confirmed that approval of this proposed shuttle bus service may be granted subject to consultation with the local bus operators.
3. Advice from Fairfield Council

    Fairfield City Council has been operating its Community Connect free bus shuttle since July 2012. In order to understand the operation of this service and the cost impacts enquiries were made with the Fairfield City Council. The following information was provided:
    • Fairfield City Council operates one Park and Ride commuter express service and four Hail and Ride community Coaster type bus services. (timetable attached)
    • Fairfield’s bus shuttle service does not accommodate people with a physical disability as it would require substantial changes to the mini buses it uses. In its officer's opinion, the changes would reduce the capacity of the mini bus.
    • The Coaster type bus costs approximately $70/bus/hour to operate (TfNSW advice). Buses operating within Fairfield Councils LGA for all routes currently cost approximately $350,000 per annum in operational costs including driver’s wages and depreciation based on a 6 year depreciation period.
    • Fairfield City Council confirmed that patronage levels on some services are better than others, however was not prepared to divulge the actual patronage figures.
Based on the operating costs supplied by Fairfield City Council the following capital costs and annual operating costs are estimated for providing a free shuttle bus service for Mount Druitt.

    25 seater bus
    $150,000 each
    Wrapping (painting) of the bus
    $10,000 each bus
    Timetables (design, print, and alignment with new train timetables
    Hail and Ride signposting depending on spacing
    From $30,000
    Bus surveillance
    Special bus step for elderly
    $5,000 - $10,000
    Annual Running Costs
    Total cost for one bus servicing a loop around Mount Druitt
    N.B. Other factors may need to be included such as rostering a driver and insurance cover.

4. Fairfield City Council's free shuttle bus service is based on a Hail and Ride service only whereby no official bus stops are provided. This is largely based on the requirement of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) which requires a new bus stop have a slab, tactile indicators, bus stop sign, bin, and access path to the bus stop. The above requirement could cost $6,500 without a shelter and $16,500 with a shelter at each location and does not including access paths.

5. However, considering the Mount Druitt proposed free shuttle bus route is within an existing bus route, existing bus stops may be utilised subject to the approval of Transport for NSW. Should this approval not be granted, a Hail and Ride service would be an alternative.

6. Further enquiries were made to Parramatta City Council which identified that the previously council funded free shuttle bus service is now funded by Transport for NSW.

7. There are currently four Council owned community buses that are available for the general public in the Blacktown LGA subject to booking and availability. However all buses are generally fully booked by various community groups and should one of these buses be utilised for the proposed free shuttle service, the availability of the buses for community groups would be reduced.

8. There is currently no funding identified for capital and operational costs associated with setting up and running of the free bus shuttle proposal.

9. Whilst a free shuttle service would be a desirable asset for access to and around the Mount Druitt area, the cost of introducing and operating the service is high and there are presently privatebus services available for these connections. In view of the advice received from TfNSW concerning patronage levels and the high cost involved it would be difficult to justify the introduction of this service. However should Council wish to proceed with the shuttle bus service it is recommended that it be undertaken on a trial basis in the first instance to gauge the patronage levels utilising one of the Council owned community buses.

10. In this regard, the estimated running cost of one bus travelling within the above proposed route for a 6 month trial period between 9.30am and 2.30pm Monday to Friday (5 hours/day for 5 days a week) at $70/h is $42,000.

    1. That the above information be noted
    2. Due to the high costs associated with establishing the free bus shuttle service Council continue to make representations to State Government to provide free shuttle services for Mount Druitt and Blacktown.

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