Super win

Superbus is back in the news, this time taking out a prestigious international award and eliciting long range insights from its operator Clarks Logan City

Super win
Super win

By David Goeldner | May 5, 2011

The TransLink-Clarks Logan City 555 Superbus has taken out a prestigious international award – the UITP PTx2 Best Finance Innovation award for the Asia Pacific region.

It’s a big win for Superbus and a feather in the cap of operator Clarks Logan City, running two three-door articulated Volvo-Volgren B12 combos each with a capacity for 112 passengers on Brisbane’s south-east busway from Brisbane to Loganholme.

TransLink CEO Peter Strachan says the award acknowledged the innovative Superbus and the Queensland Government’s focus on reducing congestion.

"TransLink deliberately sought out new funding sources for this by tapping into State Government environmental grants," Strachan says.

"We secured Superbus trial funding through a $10.5m Congestion Management Program run by the Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads Congestion Management Office.

"The State Government has made reducing congestion a priority under its Q2 vision for Queensland, which aims to get more people out of their cars and on to public transport."

Clarks Logan City CEO Graham Davis takes the accolade further saying Superbus is the way of the future.

"I think its wonderful recognition for innovation in public transport," he says.

"The Superbuses are a concept about speeding up boarding and alighting times."

Davis says Superbus increases capacity by 70 percent over a rigid and still with one driver.

"The cost effectiveness of that model has to be taken seriously," he says.

TransLink floated the Superbus concept over a year ago and Clarks argued the benefit of a higher capacity vehicle.

"We were happy to embrace it," says Davis.

He says TransLink is now analysing alighting and boarding times.

"There will be some data to support some of the contentions of its benefits and that will add weight to a case for more of them," Davis says.

"I would be quite happy for our next six replacement buses to all be Superbuses – no question about it."

Davis says the Clarks Logan City operation with its current 125-bus fleet would substantially benefit with ten Superbuses and a spare.

"That’s an operationally proficient formula," he says.

"I’ve always said that once you’ve got high frequency your next step has to be to high capacity buses, and that’s what the Superbus is doing on our 555 corridor."

Clarks Logan City currently lease its two Superbuses, and are contemplating outright purchase of the vehicles.

"We will buy the ones we’ve got and then we will have serious conversations with TransLink about introducing more into the fleet."

Davis says the depot mechanic likes the Superbus, as do the drivers.

"I haven’t heard one adverse customer comment – not one."

Davis has a vision of three doors on both sides of the bus where passengers board and alight in a closed bus station system.

To make the vision reality, Davis argues the case for a change to the Queensland Government funding model to provide for more Superbus-style innovations.

"Our growth in the south-east corridor is at about seven percent each year and the issue now is to get growth funding into the network."

Davis believes the annual recurrent funding model through Government processes no longer works.

"Government is good at having infrastructure funding mapped out strategically, but you’ve got to do it with current funding as well."

He says while having busway infrastructure is essential, Government needs to look ten years out on recurrent funding needs to make best use of the asset.

"You can’t look at it on a 12 month cycle anymore – its’ not going to work.

"And we all know the additional benefits of having people on public transport – every dollar invested has a significant return for the state."

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