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I lived and worked in Brisbane last year, and used the South East Busway corridor to commute to the CBD. Travel times were consistent and fast precisely because private automobiles were prohibited on the busway, regardless of the number of occupants. (I believe emergency vehicles had the option to use the busways if necessary.) I didn't sense a lot of "bus stigma" - many different types of people rode the bus. Some stations were at intersections (e.g. Stanley St, Woolloongabba) but they did not interfere with traffic. Others shared space with vehicles and were a bit bottlenecked (Victoria Bridge/Cultural Centre). From what I understand, Brisbane chose to build busways because the buses could run separated from traffic in some sections, and then disperse onto local arterial roads to more effectively serve the lower density suburbs. The train lines in the city are good, but tend to work best when you're within walking distance of a station. Mr. Sharan is falling into the bus stigma trap. When you have a convenient, frequent service, whether BRT or rail, people will use it.
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This sounds somewhat similar to a new private shuttle service we have in Vancouver called Pacific Commuter . It's peak-hours only, and expensive ($400-500/month), but it's luxurious and allows commuters to work wirelessly enroute. I expect that the shuttle came about as a private solution for mass transit that our public agency, Translink, does not currently provide. The peak hour commuter train, West Coast Express, runs north of the Fraser River and thus does not serve Langley or Surrey (suburbs of Metro Vancouver). Existing bus service in Langley and Surrey is comparatively poor, and rapid transit only covers a small portion of Surrey. Most commuters are forced to drive into Vancouver. Of course, Jarrett, you raise the question of why such commuting distances are necessary in the first place. Similar to how you would like to see many of these companies located closer to SF, I would like to see more companies locate in a densified Surrey rather than only Vancouver, which would cut travel distances substantially.
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I lived in Sydney for a few months last year and I never took the monorail for some of the reasons you highlighted - it's not integrated with the rest of the public transit system, and I was able to easily walk around the CBD. Also, the $5 fare is too expensive for a single trip. Jarrett - are there future plans to integrate the light rail (shown in blue on the map) with the existing transit system operated by the NSW government? I think the planned light rail corridor along George St. is an excellent idea. I took the light rail from Glebe to Central a few times but eventually settled with using the 431 and 433 bus lines along George St. Despite a shorter transport time for the light rail, the fact that I needed a separate ticket was a significant disincentive. I'm currently in Brisbane, and I think their integrated GoCard is excellent for simplifying usage across different modes of public transit. Sydney's system would benefit tremendously from having a similar card system.
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Jan 10, 2012