Patronage on new Smartbus route highest on record

By: Graham Gardiner

Melbourne’s new Red Orbital SmartBus route between Altona and Mordialloc is the city’s most popular carrying more than 16,000 people

Melbourne’s new Red Orbital SmartBus route between Altona and Mordialloc is the city’s most popular carrying more than 16,000 people every week day.

Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky says thousands of bus travellers are flocking to the new services with patronage up 37 percent.

"The Brumby Labor Government is taking action to provide the best public transport network in Australia and the innovative SmartBus service which offers increased frequencies and longer operating hours is a key element of our plan," she says.

"These patronage figures show the Red Orbital SmartBus which replaced routes 291 and 700 is now the most popular bus service in Melbourne."

Services along the route started in April this year, providing ‘cross-town’ connects to trains at Altona, Sunshine, Essendon, Preston, Coburg, Heidelberg, Box Hill, Holmesglen, Oakleigh, Mentone and Mordialloc stations and to tram routes 1, 19, 55, 59, 70, 75, 86, 109 and 112.

"In just a few weeks, we have already seen a 37 percent increase in weekday usage along this route," Kosky says.

The SmartBus service runs on average every 15 minutes on weekdays and on average every 30 minutes on weekends and public holidays. Hours of operation span 5am to midnight.

"Passengers are telling us that they’ve moved out of their cars and on to a SmartBus because of the frequency and the span of hours the service offers," she says.

Many shopping centres and strip shop locations are also covered by the new route, including Altona, Altona Gate, Sunshine, Milleara Mall, Essendon DFO, Northland, Doncaster, Box Hill, Chadstone, Oakleigh and Mordialloc.

Kosky says that compared with the same time last year, on routes that serviced the areas replaced by route 903 (291 and 700), bus patronage on Sundays has increased by 71 percent, with Saturday usage up by 43 percent.

"People are taking the option of catching a bus when they shop on weekends, avoiding the stress of car park traffic and doing their bit for the environment," she says.

The Brumby Labor Government’s Victorian Transport Plan has committed $290 million to expanding the SmartBus network across Melbourne, with plans to launch a new SmartBus route 902 from Chelsea to Airport West, via Doncaster, Eltham, Greensborough and Broadmeadows in early 2010.

"I expect passenger numbers will keep growing as more people discover that their local SmartBus service is a smarter, more convenient way to travel," Kosky says.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook