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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Chermside's Crossroads

As you are reading this, Westfield Chermside is inching towards becoming the largest Westfield-owned shopping centre in Australia, in the heart of a increasingly densified suburb. Yet, it’s public transport network is inadequate: part of a greater Brisbane problem. There is a solution, and it doesn’t just include enforcing a network rework. It includes delivering the Chermside “bus solution” envisaged when Chermside Shopping Centre was a fifth of the size, and was promised a decade ago, that would allow for the removal of the existing interchange, for another stage of work at Chermside.


The Chermside Problem:
 It’s a problem, steeped in history: dating back to the genesis of Chermside Shopping Centre, sixty years ago. Although, there was the Chermside tram terminus (for route 72 to CBD/Enoggera) nearby, Chermside’s developers had the foresight to include a bus station, which mainly served local routes, using much smaller vehicles than today, and was a relatively easy transfer to the terminus at the Hamilton Rd intersection. However, the removal of trams in December 1968 (four months prior to the rest of the network: which saw the Chermside-Enoggera via CBD tram replacement buses (route 172, and eventually split into today’s 370 Chermside-CBD/390 Mitchelton-CBD), start from Chermside Shopping Centre: as well as the arrival of the workhorse of the Brisbane bus network post-trams: the Leyland Panther (what was said to be “the largest order of the Panther model in the world” at the time of rollout in 1968, and took two years to rollout, and whose lifespan with BCC lasted into the 1990’s) along with growth in the 1960’s-1980s in the areas surrounding Chermside as well as the service expansion that came with it (in particular, the Great Circle Line, linking Chermside with Toombul, Carindale, Garden City, Indooroopilly and Brookside shopping centres, in a circular route, (which wasn’t a true circle (i.e. Carindale/Garden City to/from Chermside without going through the CBD always went via Indooroopilly/Brookside) until the Gateway Bridge opened in 1986) and a brief trial of articulated buses (ex Tsukuba Expo ’85) on the 172, being the most notable changes), led to the 1957-designed single platform bus interchange, even after a slight redesign in the mid 1970’s (integrating it into the centre), as well as a secondary platform: reaching capacity by the early 1990’s (the biggest victim of the GCL’s early success: as Indooroopilly/Carindale upgraded their interchanges to all weather affairs when cinema complexes were added in 1990), The problem was eventually rectified, when the Brisbane City Council, with the assistance of Westfield, after their purchase of Chermside in 1996 (at the same time planning began for the busway network), began to develop a new six stand interchange on the corner of Gympie and Hamilton Rd (opposite the former tram terminus), on the site of some small stores, and Chermside’s original police and fire stations,  at the cost of $1m, which opened in early August 1999.

Article on new Chermside bus interchange opening: August 4 1999.
From Northside Chronicle microfiche at SLQ.
Advertisement for new Chermside bus interchange, August 11, 1999
From Northside Chronicle microfiche at SLQ.

However, service growth from Chermside exploded, in the first decade and a half of the 21st century, first with the 333 BUZ to the CBD (which sped up the trip from 38 mins on the 370 (which had to negotiate Fortitude Valley’s one way road systems to get to the CBD, once the Brunswick St Mall opened in 1990) to 30mins Chermside-Queen St Bus Station, via the newly opened first stage of the Inner Northern Busway between Herston and Roma St): one of Brisbane’s first full-time high frequency bus services outside the busway network (which also saw two whole stands at Chermside dedicated to 333 services: constraining the rest of the network out of Chermside to four stops at the interchange: and two outside it, along with the increase in the number of buses laying over at Chermside), opposed to the past pattern of good weekday/poor weekend frequency for most BNE bus services: as well as being the catalyst for explosive residential growth around Westfield Chermside, of apartment living: with Playfield St slowly transforming from 1950’s single family dwellings, to a canyon of apartments, with onsite parking catering for thousands of residents, along with the transformation of sites that had suddenly become valuable because of their location, near the Chermside interchange:
-Bowman Motors used car lot on Hamilton Rd became apartments,
-the Chermside Uniting Church moving from Gympie/Hamilton corner to the former Chermside State School site, after merging with the Kedron congregation in 2001: resulting in the former church being sold for development,
-Byrne Ford exiting their longstanding service/sales facility at Chermside in favour of a new service site at Geebung and condensing sales to it’s Kedron car yard: then seeing the site split off for more apartments and a McDonalds drivethru outlet.


All this growth (a roughly 250% increase in units/apartments since 2000, largest outside the Brisbane inner city), along with a extension of Westfield opening in 2006, saw Chermside slowly become a community counting cranes, as well as the popularity of the 333 (which saw people parking at Westfield Chermside from places further north (to escape CBD parking fees, and parking constraints on the Caboolture Line pre MBRL): constraining carparking for actual customers, and eventually led to the introduction of paid parking at Chermside in 2011, as well as the addition of two extra services a hour upon Airport Link’s opening five years ago, to the 340 and 330 (whose change to running express between Chermside-RBWH via Airport Link cut the Chermside-City Hall run to just 22mins: one minute slower than a car using the surface) has put strain on the network and on Chermside bus station.

To understand all this, you have to look at the problems that currently exist at Chermside for buses.
-333 taking up two stands (a lengthened stop A) of a 6 stand interchange.
-There is only stabling for six additional buses (a major issue as 11 services originate from Chermside interchange itself): while the southern four spaces constrain movement around the interchange.
-340/330 (which added the equivalent to another 333’s worth of services to the CBD, when both routes were BUZ’ed in 2012) only serve Chermside interchange when travelling outbound: that is, leaving the CBD. All inbound services are fed through Stop 37/38 on Gympie Rd.
-People getting off at Stop 37/38 on Gympie Rd from 330/340 inbound services have to cross Hamilton Rd to get to Chermside shopping centre.
-The Gardens 38A inbound is used as alternative access to Chermside for passengers on 330 (to avoid crossing Hamilton Rd) and 680 (much more central than the terminus outside the bus interchange) and is also central to a new entrance to Westfield Chermside (connecting through to the new second level mall, through a dining precinct, that also recently opened.)
-340 doesn’t have a alternate inbound stop for Stop 37/38 on Gympie Rd.
-77 cannot serve the existing interchange directly (due to provisions for larger tri-axle Southside buses being utilized): instead utilizing a streetside stop across Hamilton Rd from the interchange, after going through suburban streets to access it.
-680 cannot serve the existing interchange, because it’s privately run: despite the operator, Hornibrook (which became a part of the parent company for the G:link light rail, Keolis-Downer in 2015) holding some contracts to operate services on behalf of Brisbane Transport, and has in the past (i.e. before BCC built the interchange) served Chermside Shopping Centre proper. Also is restricted sizewise, when it comes to vehicles: especially with the recent end of 315 services (which occasionally used tri-axle vehicles)


Not to mention, that the number of seats (not counting disabled seating, which is movable) for passengers on a Chermside-City bus service (not counting the 1980s articulated bus trial), has only gone up 4-5 seats (39 seats in the high floor Panthers fifty years ago: 43/44 seats in the current low-floor non-articulated northside fleet) in the last five decades. That is equivalent to a standard family car.

A interesting number for you:
20: the number of services that utilize Stop 37/38 on Gympie Rd at Chermside between 9-10am. 8 of those services originate from Chermside interchange.
In comparison, 18 services utilize Stop 42 Adelaide St (outside City Hall), 13 of those services originate from the CBD or are throughrouted services (which are legacies of 1969: the rest (5 370 services) terminate in the CBD) between 9-10am.


Why the station is needed now.
We have to look back, at the LNP’s bus review in 2012, and take a realization that, the Stop 37/38 problem could have been addressed, with some work, that BT and Translink should have agreed to do regardless of participation in the review itself for the good of the network.
- On-line bus stops are provided on Gympie Road adjacent to the existing interchange for all through (north-south) and terminating services. This allows all services to serve the same stop all day and allows for High Capacity Vehicles to be used.
- The existing interchange is to be only used for through (east-west) services, with convenient interchange possible with the Gympie Road on-road stops. All other bus stops currently classed as part of Chermside interchange can be removed.

(Excerpt from SEQ Bus Network Review report produced by Transport and Main Roads, in early 2013)

This can be delivered as a temporary solution, while work occurs on a permanent north-south-terminating station nearby, and delivery of a new east-west on-road bus station (similar to projects at Maroochydore and Kawana Waters) as part of a major redo of the Hamilton-Gympie Rd  intersection (including grade separation of pedestrian movements.)
This means, the existing interchange can be freed up for a mixed-use development similar to what Westfield did at Parramatta in Sydney a decade ago (which connected the centre directly to Parramatta railway station, alongside a new bus interchange: eliminating the original bain-marie of Western Sydney (the current one is the lack of lifts (a very similar predicament to Indooroopilly prior to the recent extensions) at Westfield Parramatta): swarms of people wanting Westfield Parramatta from rail, crossing at the Church St/Argyle St intersection) with the potential benefit, being a possible rebuild of the youngest/oldest existant section of Westfield Chermside pre-Westfield: a 30yr old mall comprising currently of banks (while some dates back to 1957, as part of the original Allan and Stark (later Myer) store), along with a soon to be redundant restaurant precinct, built in 2000, and a loading dock for Myer/recently opened Anaconda outlet, replacing a Rebel Sport outlet that moved into the new extension (which had previously been next to the Gympie Rd entrance to the 1970’s relocated Myer). The loading dock issue cannot be solved until a connection between the existing Target loading facilities and the David Jones/Woolworths loading docks is developed, allowing for the Myer loading facilities to be sunk below Gympie Rd level, and a potential 60-80 store extension (along with restoring a Gympie Rd entrance to Myer, lost in 2000) to be built on top.
The permanent bus station can be delivered, by resuming businesses opposite Westfield, and commit to a 12-16 stand underground interchange(operating in the same format as Perth Busport, where stops for routes are allocated dynamically, using real-time information infrastructure) including 3-6 stops designed for articulated vehicles, and all other stops designed for tri-axle buses, along with a concourse-style connection to Westfield, Gympie Rd, and both sides of Hamilton Rd.

Another set of interesting stats:
The average number of passenger seats available per hour, currently for 330, 340 and 333 BUZ services inbound through Stop 37/38: (all utilizing buses with 43/44 seats): 516 (adding up (over a 5am-10pm timetable) to 8772 seats per day without adding extra services.)

The average number of passenger seats available per hour, for the 330, 340 and 333 BUZ services if they are upgraded to larger buses however (330/340 to tri-axle buses (53-56 seats) and 333 to articulated buses (63 seats using existing BT artics): 700 (adding up (over a 5am-10pm timetable) to 11900 seats per day, and that’s without adding extra services, let alone standing passengers, and would free up 12 buses a hour of the smaller size, to improve northside suburban runs (including services to Prince Charles Hospital (critical, as it is only currently served by a bus directly (opposed to the GCL stops down a steep hill): every ninety minutes: a poor cousin to all other hospitals in the Brisbane metro area: Even QEII Hospital has 22 buses serving it, in the same 90min gap the 354 has at Prince Charles Hospital), McDowall, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) to a manageable standard, as well as allowing 7 day operation of the Great Circle Line.)


The Fixed Link: Part 1, Busway to the rescue?
But, a bus station alone cannot solve the long term problems of congestion. There is also a dire need to construct a fixed public transport link between Brisbane’s CBD and Chermside, which has not existed since 1968. To understand the demand for a “fixed link” we need to realise that currently, six out of the top 10 shopping centres in Australia by store numbers are connected directly to fixed public transport spines in their own right of way, linking to CBD’s/major railway stations at the start of 2017:
(positioning in Australia’s largest shopping centres by store numbers/centre/by number of stores/fixed PT links)
-#2: Highpoint: 500 stores/Route 82 tram shuttle to Footscray railway station, connecting to Melbourne CBD via rail network.
-#3: Westfield Bondi Junction: 499 stores/Eastern Suburbs railway to Sydney’s CBD.
-#4: Westfield Parramatta: 480 stores/Western rail line to Sydney CBD, Cumberland rail line to Campbelltown (which will change soon to terminate at Leppington), TWAY bus network to Blacktown, Rouse Hill and Liverpool, light rail to Carlingford and Westmead coming in 2024.
-#6 Westfield Miranda: 462 stores/Cronulla rail line to Sydney CBD, at nearby Miranda station.
-#8 Eastland Shopping Centre (Ringwood): 459 stores/ Lilydale and Belgrave line services to Melbourne CBD via Ringwood station
-#10 Westfield Garden City: 430 stores/South East Busway to Brisbane CBD.

Just outside the top 10, there are four other centres with direct PT links: #12: Pacific Fair (G:link light rail system), #13: Westfield Southland (opening a long fought for Southland railway station on the Frankston line in November 2017) #14: Melbourne Central Shopping Centre (right above Melbourne Central railway station on the City Loop +access to tram network on Swanston St/Latrobe St/Elizabeth St, upcoming CBD North station with the Metro Tunnel project) and #15 Westfield Sydney (City Circle/Eastern Suburbs railway via Town Hall station as well as George St light rail under construction and a nearby Sydney Metro station at Pitt St (likely accessible through the Town Hall complex).

A Westfield Chermside that is eventually aiming to have store numbers approaching the amount accessible from the Queen St Mall (QSM currently has around 700 stores in the areas currently designated for the CBD retail precinct) will seriously need the “fixed link” within a decade, if not earlier.
The fixed link consists of three separate projects:
-Grade separating Gilchrest Avenue at Herston from the inner-northern segment of the busway network: that is, removing the traffic lights, in favour of a solution that gives priority to the busway.
-Completing the missing link in the first stage of the Northern Busway between Truro St Lutwyche and Federation St Windsor, including Windsor and Federation St busway stations, as well as investigations into whether a Albion Rd busway station is still feasible, with provisions left for it’s construction at a later date. This project particularly has been stated, as far back as 2006, by the Queensland government: as being needed by 2020.
-And most critically, building the second stage of the Northern Busway from Kedron to Chermside at minimum, including busway stations at Kedron (current site of Kedron Bowl), Rode Rd-Gympie Road intersection, and the permanent Chermside solution.
This cannot be done with BCC’s original idea of a inner busway core used as a tracked metro, let alone the current proposal that benefits nobody north of RBH (while the existing network between Eight Mile Plains and the CBD and UQ and RBH gets much larger vehicles). A busway network that’s intact, can lead to some magnificent benefits.

For instance, the entire northside network can be completely redrawn, to provide high frequency service to more destinations, along with upgrades to existing stations, and certain roads to fit these.
That is what most competent bus networks around Australia have done for the last twenty years, developing new interconnectors, along with strengthing existing links.

Case in point: Sydney’s Metrobus system. This system of high-frequency buses was launched in 2008, and has driven major increases in bus patronage, although three routes (M10, M40 will lose their south eastern suburbs sections with the introduction of light rail in 2019, along with M61 (from Castle Hill to the CBD) likely to be given the chop when the first stage of the Sydney Metro opens in 2019) will be radically changed in the near future. By developing a northside network that can evolve with new infrastructure, you could potentially change transport habits, in places far away from the Gympie Rd corridor.

A new generation network:
333: becomes M30, extended to terminate at Carseldine railway station, via Gympie Rd (onroad stops at Chermside at first, then into the new bus station), and an upgraded Aspley bus facility. High Capacity Vehicles the default, becomes M11 (to Eight Mile Plains) at Cultural Centre station, relocating to QSBS once M1 route is realized.
330: becomes M31, rerouted via Fitzgibbon and Carseldine railway station east, serving Gympie Rd (on-road stops at Chermside at first, then new bus station). No longer runs express to CBD, becomes M15 (to Browns Plains) at Cultural Centre station.
340: becomes M50, rerouted to Albany Creek, via upgraded Aspley bus facility. No longer runs to Woolloongabba, or Chermside, instead boosting Maundrell Terrace/Appleby Rd/Enoggera Rd corridor to 7.5min frequency, becomes M10 (to Inala/Richlands) at Woolloongabba station.
345: becomes M51, retains existing route, now originating from upgraded Aspley bus facility, terminates at QSBS.
NEW M40: Ferny Grove railway station-Sandgate railway station via Chermside E/W stops, and Virginia railway station (gaining a dedicated on-road bus facility for transfers).
369: becomes M20, retains existing route, gains improved facilities at Stafford, potential for staggered terminuses if BCC is allowed to go to Brisbane Airport’s terminals.
77: becomes M77, services Chermside interchange (relocating to new station), runs BUZ stops until Airport Link tunnel.
598/599: becomes one route, M59, Great Circle, and absorbs the 590. Interchanges with entire M-route network at key locations. Operating 7 days a week.
The frequency of M-routes will be simple, and logical.
City-bound M-routes (M30, M31, M50, M51): 10mins peak, 15mins offpeak, 20mins on weekends.
Crosstown M-routes (M20, M40, M59 Great Circle and M77): 15min 6am-10pm weekdays, 20mins on weekends.
Alongside this, there will be a wholesale review of the northside bus network, enabling connections to one of three turn-up and go corridors (Gympie Rd (Northern Busway), Aspley-City via Chermside West and Alderley, and eventually: Waterworks Rd to Ashgrove (reserved the M70 (Maroon City Glider/71 (existing 385, moving to QSBS) designation) splitting into services for The Gap and Albany Creek), while some routes will be finetuned to meet the new high frequency corridors where possible to allow same stop or nearby interchange opportunities.
The eventual concept, will simply be called “MetBus”.
MetBus, would replace the CityGlider, BUZ and GCL brands, with one cohesive brand, under one cohesive network, and attempt to deliver a higher standard of service, to thousands more people. Along with this, 66/Blue Cityglider will become M2/3 respectively (as well as a potential M1: Eight Mile Plains-Chermside via CBD and M4: Indooroopilly-Carindale via CBD/Woolloongabba), with the potential to reshape the Brisbane network in the same fashion that was done with the CityXpress network of the 1980s.
Other conditions include:
-Every MetBus stop will include real-time service information, via a passenger information screen. Smaller stops may only offer MetBus info, while key interchange stops will include information for all services.
-Every MetBus stop is DDA-ready.
and –Every MetBus stop is equipped for a future rollout of off-bus ticketing (paper would still be sold on board): that is, a reader system that talks to buses, and allows people to tap on/off at bus stops, instead of on buses. Some stops will also have fare topup facilities, similar to those being trialled in Melbourne (for exclusive use with contactless Visa/Mastercards).


Reviving the Fixed Link: Light Rail.
Another option for the fixed link: is of course, developing a light rail project, that would be more beneficial to Brisbane than any LR proposal made in the past, and even the “convert the busway to metro” fantasy of BCC: as they all only have benefited the inner city, and not given any thought of extension to the suburbs, which could potentially increase any cost-benefit ratio of such a project.
Rebuilding a light rail link to Chermside, should be the end result of the most vaunted benefit of Brisbane’s busway network that has been promoted endlessly since 2001: “convertibility to light rail”.
Simply, it’s the fixed link for buses: with three dramatic changes.
-Separating Gilchrest Ave at Herston from existing busway corridor, with provisions to extend a light rail system through Fortitude Valley into CBD on surface (via making Brunswick St one way between the Valley Fiveways, and Wickham St, and investigating whether to route it via City Hall or Margaret St/Queens Wharf), as well as via busway to CBD, South Bank, Eight Mile Plains and beyond.
-Building the missing link, as a light rail corridor, at the same time conversion of the busway between Lutwyche and Kedron is going on (potentially having Kedron Brook as a interim terminus).
-Build the Kedron-Chermside extension, as a three station fully underground setup: Kedron, Prince Charles Hospital and Chermside, with provisions for a Aspley/Albany Ck extension down Gympie Rd on the surface, and removing the Aspley-Bracken Ridge busway in favour of a Bracken Ridge-Carseldine rail feeder via. dedicated corridor for buses.
To understand how much a light rail revival could benefit: one has to look to the city that first brought the world a air-conditioned shopping centre: Minneapolis. The Mall of America’s transit facility (serving the largest shopping centre in the US: of the same name, and like Chermside is undergoing a major expansion), has the busiest transit station outside their CBD and airport: and has no park/ride facilities, and a direct connection to their CBD/Airport via a light rail link.

Improving public transport access to Prince Charles Hospital:

Public notice of the opening of the new main entrance of Prince Charles Hospital, August 2, 1999
From Northside Chronicle microfiche at SLQ.

As was mentioned, earlier: Prince Charles Hospital (and the Holy Spirit Northside private hospital), are Brisbane’s (and possibly, Australia’s) worst served hospital complex in terms of public transport, relevant to it’s size. It, like Westfield Chermside, is unrecognizable from what it was twenty years ago: thanks to a redevelopment program since 1999, which has added modern facilities, the Holy Spirit Northside private hospital and a paediatric emergency department (designed to replace RCH at Herston as the main paediatric emergency facility for the northside). At the same time, Prince Charles Hospital, has also opened a 600 space parking station, and has plans for another 1500 spaces, dependent on government approval: all paid by consumers, visitors to the facility. The closest, anyone at Prince Charles Hospital got to even a decent public transport solution, was the concept of routing the Northern Busway through there, in early concept planning. It was shot down by residents, south of the hospital, whose houses would be resumed for a busway corridor between Gympie Rd and the hospital, while a move by Translink, to try and augment the dismal service between Chermside Shopping Centre and Prince Charles Hospital, which introduced the “Flexilink” brand, involving taxis, charging single fares (which was later expanded to Ipswich), ran between July 2007, and October 2013 (a victim of the 2013 bus review), with the support of both Westfield Chermside (who provided a terminus within their centre) and Brisbane City Council.
The need is still there for such a service, to augment the 354. I personally believe that as a first step towards expanding a PT connection, a service similar to the Flexilink service of old needs to be revived, potentially with a connection service to Holy Spirit Northside, instead of serving it directly.  This can be done, by the QLD Government, investing in a low floor bus, that is smaller than the current fleet, and can handle more seats than the cabs previously used, while being cost-effective to run, by using existing ticketing. 

The long term solution however, should be to develop a plan for a automated people mover between Chermside shopping centre and Prince Charles Hospital, running at regular intervals: with provision to extend towards the suburbs east of Chermside, even possibly: Sunshine railway station: to encourage densification away from the Gympie Road/Westfield Chermside area, while providing a transport corridor to it: in much the same fashion the Docklands Light Railway helped encourage the growth of London’s abandoned port areas, into urban renewal showpieces.

Our 10 point plan: for reforming the network, delivering infrastructure and streamlining management.
Brisbane City Council, developed a year ago, a 10 point plan on developing a public transport “alliance” with the state government, through various ideas: some good (more High Capacity Vehicles) many, the government won’t take on board (monthly discounts on Go Cards… in the BCC area). I personally believe that this “alliance” along with BCC’s “Brisbane Metro” concept, is only “grandfathering” BCC against the prospect of it’s bus network being tendered out to private operators: a prospect which would raise the ire of the Rail, Bus and Tram Union (who also are the union for Queensland Rail employees as well as BCC buses: with the constant risk of a combined rail/BCC strike always in the back of the minds of people in charge at both QR and City Hall) in the process.
Our 10 point plan would not only deal with the BCC problem, but potentially the one at QR and other sectors of the public transport system: while commuters benefit.

1. State Government takes over delivery of Brisbane Metro.
This is easily done, by simply telling BCC that the tri-articulated buses planned to be used, would be classed as a train: because of one factor: -it runs exclusively on the busway network the QLD Govt built. The state would then take over the infrastructure enhancements and refine them further (Adelaide Street tunnel, becomes a third terminating platform/ turnaround for King George Square station (so the majority of northside high frequency services are removed from Cultural Centre) or even the basis for a cross-river bus tunnel, feeding into both KGS and QSBS, along with an underground Cultural Centre station is delivered, with connections to South Brisbane station, and the adjustments for off-board ticketing (inc. the eventuality of the Roma St fare gates being moved) is installed on the entire busway network. Added to this project would be the Northern Busway to Chermside, adding stations at Federation St, Windsor, Albion Rd, Kedron (potential to rename as Cremorne station (after Cremorne Rd), to avoid confusion with existing Kedron Brook busway station), Rode Rd and Chermside itself and the Gilchrest Ave grade separation. The “Brisbane Metro” name would be reserved for the inevitable rapid transit corridor between Hamilton and Kenmore, with the infrastructure side of the now state project becoming: BEP, short for “Busway Enhancement Project”.

2. State Government ends BCC exclusivity between Eight Mile Plains and Chermside.

What this entails, is simply: BCC would be told, that from May 1 2019 (the 18th anniversary of the South East Busway’s opening), it would no longer have the exclusive right to run services between Chermside and Eight Mile Plains via the busway network. This would allow the state government to set up it’s own service between Chermside and Eight Mile Plains via the CBD busway network (what would become: M1), in competition to BCC’s current 77 and 111/333 services between those same points, which use the Clem Jones Tunnel/a change at Cultural Centre respectively. This also begins the plans for the MetBus network, to be overlayed with the BCC BUZ/CityGlider network, before eventually replacing it.

3. Seed MetBus routes are launched: utilizing private operators.

The first two MetBus routes to be launched (both new cross-town routes), M40 (Ferny Grove Station-Sandgate Station via Chermside) and M80 (Richlands Station-Capalaba Bus Station via Inala, Garden City and Wishart) would be operated by private operators (M40 by Hornibrook, and M80 by Veolia) as a way to put pressure on BCC to conform with a greater bus review: Queensland Govt would also release a draft M59 Great Circle plan, which would see it service Skygate instead of Doomben/Eagle Farm: and instigating a natural response from BCC that Translink is looking at doing it’s own planning for the BT network, again. What the response by govt should be, to wake BCC up.

4. If BCC won’t co-operate: remind them, “who’s boss”.

With Qld Treasury underwriting most of Brisbane Transport’s current fleet, along with two depots (Eagle Farm and Sherwood) and the interchange infrastructure outside the busway network in the BCC area, the move will indeed be made, if no co-operation happens concerning the M59 proposal, to transfer all these underwritten buses, interchange infrastructure and the two depots to QLD Govt control. This would give Translink and the Queensland Government the power, to simply name corridors where BCC’s exclusive rights to run buses will simply expire, within a mandated six month period.

5. Rolling out MetBus corridors

A corridor, in terms of MetBus operation: means a specific route/routes that can be replaced by a mandated frequency service by another party, instead of limited service by BCC, or one where a mandated frequency service already exists: whose fleet requirements can be met by QLD Govt funded buses. A “mandated frequency service” example, is the Citygliders and BUZ networks. The QLD Govt, would then use the underwritten buses, to fill a new MetBus schedule, along a existing BCC route. This would mean, for example: the BCC Blue Cityglider, would be replaced by a QLD Govt M3 run, literally overnight: with a little wrap changes. These corridor rollouts, would also allow for fixing up of frequency, and increasing of corridor spread (e.g. instead of everything bunched on Gympie Rd, you have three key frequent corridors to the CBD), eventually pushing BCC to having a weak network consisting of coverage routes, and milk runs, that would make very little in the farebox: while, the popular frequent services are run with QLD govt backing, government underwritten buses, and planning and timetabling handled by Translink.

6. A review by stealth.

BCC, would be forced back to the bargaining table, this time with a lot more on the line. The remaining coverage routes, would be reviewed one by one, and route closures would be announced by BCC. QLD Govt operator of the Brisbane MetBus network, would pick up BCC closed routes one by one. Eventually, BCC would offer to dispose of the remaining routes, buses and depots to MetBus operator, in order to exit the land public transport business. QLD Govt gladly accepts, and the entire Brisbane network, is under one operator again, this time state government owned.

7. A renovation by force.
The coverage routes acquired, would undergo a major review: just as another move happens: Queensland Rail’s Citytrain network, and MetBus network are merged into one operator for both rail and bus networks, under the name of Translink Corporation, with the operating brand as MetBaT (Metropolitan Buses and Trains): a new GOC, tasked with unifying the urban/interurban rail and Brisbane bus networks, in preparation for either: new operators for both, or retention as a multi-modal operator (similar to the former Public Transport Commission of NSW (which brought rail, urban buses operated by government and eventually ferries under one umbrella between 1972 and 1980, and Victoria’s Public Transport Corporation: which eventually prepared the Melbourne network for privatization between 1989 and 1999), while the CRR and BEP delivery authorities are unified into the PTIC (Public Transport Infrastructure Corporation) another new GOC, aimed at delivering integrated infrastructure: similar to NSW’s Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation (that was dissolved into Transport For NSW in 2011).

8. Cost and plan for a deliverable future of PT investment post Cross River Rail/Busway Enhancement Project.
The PTIC should begin to look at feasible projects after Cross River Rail, for shovel/EIS-ready investment in the Brisbane area, and begin to cost them out. For example:
-Northside Rail Enhancement: expand 3 tracks to four tracks between Petrie and Strathpine, and Bald Hills and Northgate (separating Kippa-Ring locals with Caboolture expresses), 3 tracks to six tracks between Bald Hills and Strathpine, and Northwest Freeway corridor used for rail transit.
-Airport Express Project: With the removal of Beenleigh and Gold Coast services onto CRR, develop a concept to run a dedicated corridor for Brisbane Airport trains between Eagle Junction and Mayne (mainly using Northern Freeway corridor to add two extra tracks). Also duplicate entire Airport line, including expanding Domestic Airport station to a island terminus as well as a govt owned Skygate interchange.
-Hamilton Northshore-Eagle Junction light rail: Cut the Doomben line at Eagle Junction, and convert to a light rail service, similar to the one that runs between Dulwich Hill and Central station in Sydney.
Southlink: Heavy rail corridor between CRR, and Yatala, utilizing either busway corridor or motorway median.
Brisbane Metro: Hamilton-Kenmore rapid transit corridor, with interchange opportunities at Kenmore, Fig Tree Pocket Rd and Indooroopilly, to ease strain on both the Western railway line, and the roads between Brisbane’s CBD and the University of Queensland.
The most critical, of these will not be even in the Brisbane area however.
-CANOC (Caboolture to Noosa Corridor) project: Expansion of the current CAMCOS scheme, to provide an heavy rail spine for the entire Sunshine Coast, along with provisions for a long distance passenger bypass of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and new alignment between Gympie North and Cooroy, to achieve higher speed travel, as the current alignment is slow, and prevents higher speed travel: a separate corridor would potentially be slicing two hours off the journey between Brisbane and Cairns, and also open up doors to extend interurban services to Maryborough.

9. Rebrand Translink and qconnect:
Translink and qconnect (along with the current Queensland Rail Travel network core (i.e. NCL tilt services from Brisbane to Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Cairns, Spirit of The Outback, Westlander and Inlander) will need to be condensed into one operation (with the tourist-focused Kuranda Rail/Savannahlander/Gulflander spun off) entitled simply as: qLink.
What “qLink” represents, is a statewide public transport authority, that has a regional and local focus: to the point, that planners can be locally based, rather than Brisbane based, so certain network oddities (buses meeting trains, buses meeting buses, etc.) are sorted out for commuters.
After all, there are currently 8 different sets of public transport physical infrastructure (five for buses (Translink new (mainly for replacement signage and new routes in SEQ post 2016 zonal changes, as well as in Translink rebranded areas formally served through qconnect, such as Toowoomba), Translink old outside BCC (which also has turned up in former qconnect areas of Cairns and Mackay), Translink old within BCC area, Translink busway network and qconnect) and two sets for rail, the Citytrain network (based off Translink busway network guidelines) and QR Travel network) that will likely confuse builders and planners alike.
Queensland needs to simply move towards the model set by NSW (who converted their entire pictogram/branding system (which included signage dating back to the 1990’s) into a letter based system, e.g. a blue B for bus, a green F for ferry, a orange T for the rail network, a red L for light rail, a purple C for NSW Trainlink operated regional coaches: along with the upcoming aqua M for the Sydney Metro line between Bankstown and Rouse Hill) and build a accurate physical infrastructure that is comprehensive, and statewide. Other factors like “next generation ticketing” (inc. the potential to extend the smartcard ticketing network to Bundaberg and Toowoomba) and allowing transport smartcards to be compatible with food/drink vending machines (just like Paypass cards are), should be taken up on a statewide basis by qLink. Same applies with regional passenger rail planning. 
There needs to be a move towards investigating the feasibility of acquiring more Tilt Train rollingstock to lift the electric Brisbane-Rockhampton corridor towards having daily service to Rockhampton from both Brisbane and Rockhampton and three daily services to and from Bundaberg (two ex-Bundaberg, one from Rockhampton in either direction) as well, as looking at instituting a twice daily service between Toowoomba and Brisbane once work is done on a rail bypass of Toowoomba), as the sole service currently running between Brisbane and Toowoomba (the Westlander) isn’t practicable for day trips.

And finally, number 10: Implement the PTFT.
As stated in Kuttsy's Fare Pitch in late 2014, a need is there to take public transport fare determination out of the government’s hands, and follow the lead of NSW in referring all public transport fare decisions to a independent tribunal. The “Public Transport Fare Tribunal” or PTFT for short, should have been implemented as a smart solution for the future when we were asked about “fairer fares” in 2016, especially as SEQ is now 8 fare zones wide: not the 23 that existed, when Kuttsy’s Fare Pitch was posted. A independent fare authority should set fares for a greater qLink “capital zone system”: that is, adding Toowoomba, Gympie, Glasshouse Mountains/Sunshine Coast Hinterland, North Stradbroke Island, Kilcoy, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay/Maryborough buses to the current fare system, to stimulate tourism and service upgrades, and in the case of Gympie, the Glasshouse Mountains/Sunshine Coast Hinterland, North Stradbroke Island and Kilcoy, simplified ticketing (as currently, these services are within the TL service region (Gympie town bus network is wholly in TL zone 8, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland services run through TL zones 5 and 6, Kilcoy should be in TL zone 5 and North Stradbroke Island, should share the same zones as the other Redland City controlled Moreton Bay islands: TL zone 5): and some (Gympie and North Straddie stand out) are disconnected from the main TL network.)

Well, this is our look into the crossroads, that not just Chermside, but SEQ’s transport network is facing. As there is a state election, in the wings: I want to say wholeheartedly, that if you think our congestion issues are bad now: just wait until more cranes come up in the Chermside area. 
There have been thirteen applications to BCC in the year to date alone (as of November 9, 2017), referring to “multiple dwellings” within the Chermside locality. It now takes on average, at peak-hour, two traffic light cycles to enter Gympie Rd, from Hamilton Rd, coming from the west: the route the 340 currently takes from Carseldine. The sheer fact that the state LNP if elected, will be committing a million dollars, to BCC’s flawed metro, just so another study can happen on connecting Quirk’s MetBus to Chermside: when a busway extension past Kedron, (inc. new station at Chermside), along with fixing the missing link between Federation St and Albion Rd and allowing larger vehicles beyond RBWH would do a far better job in expanding capacity for northside commuters than shiny new vehicles, and can start construction relatively quickly. And then there is the Quirk metro itself: likely enforcing interchange at RBWH for the Gympie Rd corridor (e.g. the three Gympie Rd BUZ’s carry nearly 3.3m people annually, just with current vehicles), until such time as the busway is built.

Our recommendation is clear. When you go to the polls in your northside electorate, simply put both the ALP and LNP, last. That’s right, last. Give them the shock of their lives, when a simple protest vote, happens from a northside peeved about the state of their public transport network, whether it be the QR problems that both the ALP and LNP have cultivated, the handing off of the BT segment of the 2013 bus review to BCC by the LNP, or even the continual stalling of completing a busway that has been on planners maps for nearly a generation, while the SE Busway thrives: by two political forces (three if you count the BCC LNP majority: that will face it’s big test, six months out from the next QLD election in 2020) that don’t give a care for northside residents and commuters, let alone whether or not they can get around the northside’s major destinations (shopping centres, hospitals, etc.), along with a hell of a lot of minor ones (such as neighbourhood shopping hubs, local GP's, even educational facilities, from the start of the educational journey, all the way to the end) without a automobile easily.
But who do you recommend as your number 1 pick by the way?
Quite simply, in most cases, the hard working independent candidate, who deserves the chance to bring the northside’s teething problems to the forefront: something that can be a tipping point this election.

After all: there will be another Chermside in the making sooner or later, if we don’t get public transport connections right, now. Hamilton Northshore: right in the heart of Tim Nicholls’s electorate, is growing by leaps and bounds… yet has a public transport dilemma that needs great leadership to fix. Currently, Hamilton Northshore is served by a rail feeder bus: on trial mind you, that runs every hour off peak, to the Doomben line, which is running at the same frequency, as well as the Citycat service, which takes around a hour to get to the heart of the Brisbane CBD: with no direct service to the CBD via Kingsford Smith Dr: that Brisbane City Council is spending $650m (more than Nicholls’s supposed second M1) to upgrade. This is inadequate, especially, as other urban renewal projects similar to Hamilton Northshore, either have strong public transport links from early on (like Docklands Melbourne (which extended tram service) and the renewal of Canary Wharf in London (the afore mentioned DLR) or are being worked on concurrently (Sydney Metro stage 2 will be connecting to the Barangaroo development, as it's first CBD stop).
The need is there now to potentially reserve a new rapid transit corridor (not a extension of the Doomben line via former rail corridor to the Hamilton wharves, as has been popularized over the years) between the Hamilton Northshore area (via Bulimba and Newstead) and Brisbane’s CBD, and beyond, with provisions for a extension towards the Tangalooma terminal at Holt St Eagle Farm, Brisbane’s international and domestic air terminals and ultimately, any future cruise terminal at Luggage Pt: opening up major benefits for Queensland tourism, especially if any airport-cruise terminal rapid transit link is developed: and I should know, as I have done the T2/T3 Sydney Airport-Circular Quay run in a bus, supplied by a cruise line, several times: in heavy Sydney traffic: and I will be praying that a terminal east of the Gateway Bridge, will negate the need to fly into Sydney for certain cruise brands.
It is simply up to that great leader whether it be someone familiar or new, to simply say: that the northside risks being stranded, if it’s public transport issues isn’t sorted out urgently. Because, we all know what happened in Sydney’s northwest (which became home to stranded suburbs over time) when public transport is mismanaged…

“To understand how the nation's premier city developed stranded suburbs you need to go back to when Bob Carr was Premier. Carr knew that massive investment was needed in public transport. He also knew he needed to sell the State's electricity generators to pay for it. To do that, he needed approval from the ALP's State conference - public ownership of power stations has long been a sacred cow for Labor. Bob Carr's scheme never stood a chance.”
Wendy Carlisle excerpt, ABC’s Four Corners “Off The Rails” (a dramatic look at Sydney’s transport planning woes) 5/10/2009.


And it will have to be done in Queensland (unlike Sydney Metro, which was partly funded from the eventual successful sale of electricity generators, under a first term Liberal government): without selling or leasing a single public asset, nor raising a new tax: as both moves are unpopular with voters. That will indeed be the hardest part to swallow: far more than selling or leasing assets, especially as thousands will depend on a better public transport network, as the blood flow, to the heart of the northside.

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