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Brisbane Transport is Made of Fail 
30th-Mar-2008 01:23 pm
You know, Brisbane Transport's bus system runs very badly indeed. 

The last straw came for me yesterday when I was hailing a bus in Boundary St, Spring Hill, near the pool. The bus drove right past. I was standing right on the edge of the footpath with my arm in the air. When the bus was level with me I was waving my arm at the driver to try and get his attention.

Because it was a Saturday, my only two choices were to walk into town or wait for an hour for the next bus. Nice work.
I called Translink and they unhelpfully explained that they had no direct contact with Brisbane Transport.
But they could lodge a complaint for me, which would take ten days to get answered.

If this was the only problem I have had, I would not bother posting about it. But in just the last week, this is what else I have seen:

- On Saturday morning, the bus turned up twenty minutes late at Toombul. This was because, the driver said, he went to town with the bus instead of to Toombul.

-  On Friday night, another bus went past someone who was hailing it at the stop near the Jubilee Hotel on St Paul's Terrace, in the Valley.

 - On Friday afternoon, I had to wait 35 minutes outside All Hallow's School for a 199 bus, which is supposed to come every ten minutes.

- On Tuesday afternoon, an old lady who was running for the 310 route at the stop outside the Sarina Russo building on St Paul's Terrace copped a lecture from the driver, who told her she 'had to be at the bus stop on time'. This is especially funny as I used to live near the bus stop on Abbotsford Rd in Bowen Hills, and the buses were regularly 5-10 minutes late.

I am also tired of the way most drivers pull out from the stop without giving you a chance to sit down - no matter how heavy a load you are carrying. I assume this is because they are under pressure to meet their timetables (which they often don't, anyway). Obviously the idea of revising the timetables so they are realistic has not occured to Brisbane Transport's managers.

Drivers and passengers don't get away scot-free, either. Why can't passengers realise that there is a middle door and use it  when they get off, instead of using the front and blocking people who are trying to get on. And while some drivers are very friendly and try to help when they can, others are surly and have absolutely no knowledge of what routes go where. I am sure part of the problem here is that pay, conditions and morale are mediocre at best, but I still think that drivers should be taking pride in their work and know about the network.

In the last few weeks, I have also twice been asked by trainee drivers which way to go! Why aren't these drivers shown the routes they are to drive before they have to drive them? 

I am going to complain to the council on Monday morning, and demand a ten-trip ticket for the inconvenience i've had to put up with in the last week.

If anyone has any stories they'd like to share about buses etc, leave a comment here. If you want an update on how I go with the complaint, email me at djackmanson at gmail dot com or leave your own email address here.

Also, if anyone else is interested in brainstorming some large-scale solutions to these sort of problems, leave a comment or email me. While it is therapeutic to bitch, I'd be keen to link up with people who want to try and solve these problems, or at least put some real pressure on politicians, transport bureaucrats, etc.

BTW there is a lot of public recognition that public transport is a problem. The website Queensland decides did a poll of people for the recent Brisbane election. While it was an opt-in poll (not a random one), it asked people what their number-one issue was. 22.8% said public transport - the highest-rating issue of all.
Comments 
30th-Mar-2008 04:26 am (UTC) - 330 from town to bracken ridge
i recently had a problem getting off the bus.
my son and i were moving from the back of the bus to the middle door, had almost reached the door when the driver shut the door. i called out "hey, i need to get off the bus" and he started driving.
my child is 4. he cannot stand on a moving bus. he fell over, he wasn't hurt...this is not the issue.
i pressed the bell and called out "could you let me off just in front of taigum state school?" (not an official stop, but i was being hopeful). he drove past that stop, stopping at the next official stop. i called out "i hope the driver will let us off this time" and successfully escaped the bus.
the next stop is about the same distance, or maybe only a little further than the stop i prefer. that is not the issue. the issue is that he wouldn't let us off the bus. we were right near the door!
30th-Mar-2008 04:30 am (UTC) - Re: 330 from town to bracken ridge
yikes!
30th-Mar-2008 04:32 am (UTC)
Asshole bus drivers are an all-too-frequent problem. I'm not sure what can be done about that, but I do think it's something that needs addressing.
30th-Mar-2008 04:33 am (UTC)
A couple of Thursdays ago on the 333 to Chermside (on the way back from QUT Kelvin Grove) we had a speed freak bus driver. I was standing and had to grip on to the sides to keep from falling over. He kept getting tailgating other cars in front of him and I lost count of the number of times he slammed his breaks on (lurching forward into the person in front of me is great way to start a conversation!).
30th-Mar-2008 04:36 am (UTC)
I wonder if thats the same driver I had on the 325 a few weeks ago, who was sitting on roughly 80k's an hour all the way from stafford to the city, even though a 50k zone! One passenger said to him "I can see you're doing 80k's, you're speeding, this is a 50 zone" and he said to her "what, do you want me to go back and do it again... SLOWER??" what a tool. There were little old ladies on the bus and they were scared!
30th-Mar-2008 04:33 am (UTC)
This is what happens when the council spends about a kazillion dollars on building a freaking tunnel (thus encouraging people to drive) instead of spending much money propping up their crap public transport system. I really wish I lived somewhere near a train station instead of having to catch the bus to work each day - if its not 20-30 mins late in the morning, its 10 minutes EARLY so I'm constantly late either way.

I don't think your experiences are that uncommon with buses - I'm constantly disappointed with the buses either being really late, or the drivers being complete jerks. I couldn't usually be bothered complaining to Brisbane Transport, but a few of weeks ago I had a bus driver who was doing 20-30k's over the speed limit the entire way to the city (including 80ks in a 50k zone) who gave serious attitude to another passenger who pointed out he was speeding. So I gave feedback via their website... and 8 days later got an email saying "thanks for your feedback, we've passed it on to the relevant area and you'll hear from them soon" and over a week later I've heard nothing further. Which makes you wonder if there is any point at all!

I've noticed over the last 5 or so of years that I've been catching buses, the service has really deteriorated to the point that its now incredibly frustrating, and I can count the number of buses this year that I've caught that have actually been on time on one hand.
30th-Mar-2008 05:22 am (UTC)
I agree with this as well.
30th-Mar-2008 04:40 am (UTC)
I wish something could be done about the buses in my area. I live out near Ipswich, and have to put up with the awful Westside Bus Company which does the public transport here (under the Translink banner). Buses regularly arrive up to an hour and a half late (I've waited about two hours before, ended up catching a taxi), or not at all, they're in awful disrepair, and some of the drivers are incredibly careless behind the wheel.

Myself and other people I know have written to both the bus company and the council with complaints, but we haven't heard zip back - not even an acknowledgement that they got our letters.

Arseholes.
30th-Mar-2008 04:50 am (UTC)
Don't forget there's always brisvegas_buses for more of these kind of stories. I've got a couple of bitching posts on there.

What's currently bugging me is that for a long time, there were no bus timetables on the Redcliffe Peninsula ... as in timetables at the bus stops. They finally put them up (at most stops), but the times are different to when you go look it up on translink! Usually it's only a few mins difference, but there are some that seem to be missing or I don't know what.

Generally though, I find the Hornibrook bus drivers and system in general to be a lot nice than Brisbane Transport. I hate trying to get a bus from the city or Toowong to UQ. They have some of the foulest people working for them.

Once (well, as there are most days) there was a queue around the block at Toowong for the 402/412/411/any other bus going to UQ. I was either at or around the front of the line because the last bus was filled up. So the next one came along and pulled up at the stop. The bus driver let the passengers off, then proceeded to scream at the entire line that he wouldn't have stopped if passengers hadn't been getting off because no one put their hand out.

Yes, I know you're supposed to hail a bus. Technically he was correct (and really rude). But freaking hell, that bus driver could not claim that he thought no one wanted to get on a bus there. Cos if he's that stupid, he shouldn't be driving a bus.
30th-Mar-2008 04:55 am (UTC)
then proceeded to scream at the entire line that he wouldn't have stopped if passengers hadn't been getting off because no one put their hand out.
Y'know, a kinda similar thing happened to me once (for a 333). I was at uni and went to check what bus was coming. It wasn't one I wanted, so I sat back down. The bus driver stopped, opened the doors, and yelled at me that I didn't put my hand out, so I was lucky he decided to stop. To which I was like, "errr, ok? I didn't want to catch this bus and had sat back down?"
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30th-Mar-2008 04:59 am (UTC)
My problem has always been more that buses are too full to let me on... have to love the 130 route...

They have improved things somewhat in that way, but I've long since given up on paying the remotest attention to given bus timetables.

I've always thought that the public transport here is quite good - it's just that the buses are unreliable, which spoils the entire thing.
30th-Mar-2008 05:25 am (UTC)
Amen.
They really have improved things on the 130/140 route (the 137 was a great idea,) but only between 7-9am.

The rest of the time, you leave a good half n hour early, and just wait for whichever bus turns up. Usually three of them at once, after a half hour wait.

I gave up on the timetables ages ago. Mostly I just check them to see when *they* think the bus will arrive.
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30th-Mar-2008 05:07 am (UTC)
My biggest issue is that I catch the 360 home from work in the Valley and the stop is is the most digusting / scary area. The top end of brunswick street just before it hits greogry tce is just not a fun area to hang out. I wouldn't mind BUT the 360 is always late. 15 minutes late on average. I've been harassed for money, people have been spat at, their are people having domestics everywhere. It freaks me out.
1st-Apr-2008 01:21 am (UTC)
LOL, I live in the Valley - you shuld try catching the 204 at Warner street some mornings. Yikes. O.o

I totally empathise, though. You don't want to be standing around waiting somewhere you don't feel safe. I was once left for 30 minutes at a deserted-ass bus stop at qut - I ended up running away from some creepy guy. The bus never turned up.
30th-Mar-2008 05:28 am (UTC)
Once when I was catching the 109 at the UQ Lakes stop to go to the city, the surly bus driver shouted at me when I tried to get on because I had only held up a ticket and not my student card as well. Funny that, given that I am not a student and was holding up an adult ticket and had held it up for more than ample time for him to read every necessary detail on the ticket. He was being completely unnecessarily rude. And I've seen a lot of bus drivers shout at someone because the person didn't hold up their ticket for long enough for the driver to read all the details, and the drivers are so patronising about it, like "You need to hold it vertically, you know, so I can actually read it, and you need to not cover the tickets up with your fingers, move your fingers out of the way, I can't see through your fingers, they're not transparent". But then you'll get drivers who don't even look at you when you get on the bus and hold up a ticket, don't even acknowledge your existence. All they're required to do is read the ticket and say "thanks" or whatever, not stare out the windscreen or launch into a tirade about how stupid you are for not holding your ticket perfectly vertical and unobstructed for at least 30 seconds.

The 109 seems to be generally pretty shit. It's supposed to come every 10 minutes or so, but I've had to wait more than 40 minutes for it before, and that's happened several times. On one occasion, I was running for the bus and I was obviously in the driver's field of view and I was about three metres away when he shut the door and pulled away. I checked the time on the display screen at the stop: that was the 4:30 bus, pulling out at 4:27. He wasn't just making sure he left punctually. It didn't help that it was also pissing down rain and he was quite happy to be completely inconsiderate rather than just having some general human decency and waiting about five more seconds for me to get on the bus. So then I waited for the 4:40 bus, which didn't come, and then waited for the 4:50 bus, which didn't come, and then the 5:00 bus turned up at 5:05. I've also seen a 109 driver pull out of the stop as an obviously disabled person with two walking sticks was hurrying as fast as they could to get to the bus (and was again obviously well within the driver's field of view).

I was also on the 180 at the Cultural Centre and this African woman who didn't seem to speak very good English got on the bus and asked the driver "Do you go to Southbank?" and he said very rudely "This is Southbank!" and she looked confused and then slowly repeated "Do you go to Southbank?" and he shouted "This is Southbank! This is Southbank! Here! This stop!" and she was in the process of getting back off the bus when the person behind her stepped in and said "Actually, this is the Cultural Centre bus stop. Southbank is the next stop and yes, this bus does go to Southbank". And the driver gave him the dirtiest look!

I've also been on the bus when the driver accidentally almost side-swiped a cyclist (unfortunate but understandable, accidents do happen) and the cyclist was obvious quite angry about it and pulled up beside the bus at the next set of lights and demanded that the bus driver pull over so the cyclist could get the driver's details. But once the driver had pulled over, he just stayed sitting there in the driver's seat and said nothing. The cyclist was on his mobile phone to someone, but the bus driver didn't say anything. After about five minutes, a passenger went up to the driver and asked what was happening, and the driver mumbled something, and the passenger looked confused then turned around and said "Well, the driver says that he's actually not going anywhere. So I guess we all have to walk to the next bus stop or something". So the bus driver didn't even bother to tell a bus-load of people that the bus wasn't going any further, nor did he report it back to anyone so another bus could pick us up. So we all had to walk about 20 minutes to the nearest major bus stop.

I just have too many stories of buses going missing or going the wrong way or bus drivers being angry or rude, I could write an encyclopaedia of how crappy the bus system is, especially since I use it about 6 or 7 days a week.
30th-Mar-2008 07:58 am (UTC)
Ditto to being berated for not holding my ticket the exact way they like.

I have also had to give directions to people who were obviously out of town or lost, because the bus driver didn't bother to understand what they were asking.
30th-Mar-2008 05:38 am (UTC)
"Why can't passengers realise that there is a middle door and use it when they get off, instead of using the front and blocking people who are trying to get on."

Two reasons: first, I get off at a stop where there are generally two or three people waiting, who'll hail my bus; which means that the driver forgets that he's stopped to let someone off and hence doesn't even bother opening the middle door. Since I blend in and am rather shy/socially inept, this is a real problem as I don't like to call across the bus "please open the door". I've also had busses who completely ignore the fact that I've rung the bell to get off, so I've found it far more helpful to wait at the front where my presence reminds them that I'm ready to get off.
Second, I'm used to Logan City busses. When there is a second door, I don't think to use it, because I'm not used to it existing at all.
30th-Mar-2008 06:00 am (UTC)
*shrug*

Brisbane buses have disimproved at a lesser rate than traffic in general.

Compare and contrast with late 90s buses - on a weekend, frequency in many near-city areas was once every two hours. Now? At least there's an attempt at least once an hour, usually once every half hour, in most near-city suburban lines.

The busway has helped a lot.

The bus drivers - well, unfortunately, we have a bit of a skills shortage in SE QLD at the moment, and one of those areas is people willing to drive buses. Yes, the drivers (especially new ones) are terrible. Unfortunately, that's what happens when the unemployment rate is low - in lower-paid, lower-skill positions you get people who aren't ideal. It sucks, yes, but it is hardly the bus companies' fault. There simply isn't anyone better to hire. Additionally, it's hard to run more buses when you're out of drivers.

There are a set of interlinking problems here, and most of it is due to previous city council incumbents doing nothing to improve the city's infrastructure in any way, shape or form. Unfortunately, the present council is copping a lot of flak for getting to those issues that were successfully ignored by voters and council alike for the better part of two decades.
30th-Mar-2008 09:32 am (UTC)
we have a bit of a skills shortage in SE QLD at the moment, and one of those areas is people willing to drive buses

Yes, this!
Though apparently bus drivers get a decent wage for sitting on their arses being bitches all day*.


* Actually I haven't had a bad bus driver in years, mostly because I like to kill people with kindness.
30th-Mar-2008 06:33 am (UTC)
To be honest i've had pretty good experiences with the buses here on the whole.

My only real problem is the incredible amount of drivers who drive right past the Hibiscus stop in Klumpp rd at Upper Mount Gravatt when i want to get off coming from GU Nathan or the city on the 120 and 125 services. I don't know why they fail to stop there so often, the stop isn't obscure at all and the road is straight. The thing that really drives me crazy is when i tell the driver i wanted to get off and they get shitty and say i should have rung the bell.. um i always do, thanks.
30th-Mar-2008 07:11 am (UTC)
Ughhhh Brisbane Transport...don't get me started!!!

I have had both good and bad experiences, but what I wanted to bring up was the Travel Tens.....I have had so many of these just crap out on me after just being purchased...%^$^%$ wtf!? Has anyone else had this happen? I mean...alot? I may be cursed..??
Ok annoying and stupid enough, I've then had drivers think I have been trying to scam a free trip or think I did it on purpose etc. I don't think I should be punished for owning a faulty ticket for no good reason. It's not my fault they can't get it together and provide a decent service! It just shits me!

Then theres the running VERY late bus; consistently running late all the time...or the ones that just don't bother turning up..........**sigh**
30th-Mar-2008 08:50 am (UTC)
The 10 Trip Savers? Yes, almost every second one in the last year! They just die and then it's this big drama.
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30th-Mar-2008 07:24 am (UTC)
I catch the 300 from Adelaide Street after work, and am completely shocked when it turns up on time/at all. Like other commenters above, I've had experiences where the bus has driven straight past me.

In terms of driving off before people have had a chance to sit down, I saw that happen a couple of weeks... when a heavily pregnant lady was trying to find a seat. The driver swung from the stop and she almost fell. Half the bus gasped in horror.
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