Philip Mallis

Bus stop misdirection and how I nearly missed my flight

I have previously written about the importance of accurate public transport information. Unfortunately this is all too common and can cause serious problems for passengers trying to navigate the network.

I present my recent experience as a brief case study on this topic.

A simple bus stop

I had to reach Melbourne Airport. As usual, I was travelling by public transport. On this trip I needed to change from the terminus of the Route 59 tram in Airport West onto the Route 478 bus to Melbourne Airport.

This should be a relatively simple task. The stop is not very far away. In fact, if you look at the PTV website or app, they are right next to each other.

Screenshot of Melrose Drive bus stop location in Airport West

Unfortunately what this does not show you is that the map and journey planner is completely wrong.

While there is a stop in the location shown on the map serviced by the 478, it goes in the wrong direction. The actual stop location is in the opposite direction on the other side of the intersection nearly 200 metres away. Worse, the actual stop location is not shown on the PTV map at all (see screenshot above).

200 metres may not seem like a long way. But given the complex intersection and the amount of time you need to wait to cross the 2-3 traffic signals to get to the other side, it can take quite a while. This could be the difference between catching or missing your connection.

I very nearly missed this mistake because I wasn’t paying too much attention. Thankfully I did realise in time otherwise I may have arrived too late and completely missed my flight. Others may not have been so lucky.

The error appears to have arisen because the name of the stop ‘Dromana Avenue / Matthews Drive’ is the same as another one nearby. For some reason only one of the locations showed up on the website and app.

It seems that as of March 2024 this error has been fixed. But this was displayed incorrectly on the PTV website for many years before.

A slightly incorrect location for a bus stop may seem like a relatively small issue. But as this case demonstrates it can have a huge impact on people’s journeys. For many, this is enough for them to ‘switch off’ public transport and prefer to drive or find another way to get around. Small issues compound over time that built negative perceptions of the network and helps nobody. We need better quality control to make sure that the information that is published gets people where they need to go.

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2 responses to “Bus stop misdirection and how I nearly missed my flight”

  1. People are paid a fair wage, if not a generous wage to get such things correct and make them work for public transport users, yet they don’t. How about this clanger for alterations to tram services over Grand Prix weekend. I saw it hours ago, and it is still online, ‘Route 64 runs between North Balwyn and Stop 38 Orrong Road’. North Balwyn tram passengers will be quite perplexed by their strange journey to Orrong Road, Malvern. It is possible with a turn back in Kew, along Cotham Road and turn into Glenferrie Road and then Dandenong Road to Orrong Road. Bit of a fun trip really. I am only saying this because I know you are read by important people. We use the two most unpunctual tram routes in Melbourne, the 16 and 72. Lucky us. I look down on the intersection of Toorak and St Kilda Roads and tonight after noting many people waiting in the evening peak there was 19 minute gap for Toorak bound trams. No Twitter notification of any delays. It it supposed to be about a six minute service. Yarra Trams has a very good media and publicity department, but the company is not doing its basic job of running a punctual tram service. It does not deserve a renewal of its contract.

  2. […] have countless prior examples of the issues that we face in public transport wayfinding and communication in […]

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