Our graph this month compares the number of scheduled bus and train services on various long distance Australian routes. The source for the timetables is “Travel Times Australia - 4th Edition, April-October 1996”. Each horizontal bar on the graph below represents all services between one city pair. The horizontal axis shows the total number of scheduled services per day for all operators combined. Each bar incorporates both rail and bus travel, and is “stacked” so that the full width of the bar shows the total number of services for both modes.
The degree to which the number of bus services dominate rail is evident, and is most pronounced on the Sydney-Brisbane and Brisbane-Cairns corridors. In fact Sydney-Brisbane is the busiest long-distance bus route in the nation. There seems to be a North-South contrast with bus more prevalent in the North, and (slightly) less so in the South. Could this be because tourism is greater in the North; is it that road transport can react more quickly to the growth of demand than rail; or could it be that the rail infrastructure in the South is more developed?
The busiest rail route is Canberra-Sydney, although it is arguable whether this is really a long-distance route. Canberra-Sydney also has the highest proportion of rail services to bus services: 3 compared to 15, equalled by Melbourne-Sydney with 2 trains to 10 buses. Depending on how you count it, the Adelaide-Melbourne route stakes its claim with one train plus one bus/train connection compared to 6 buses plus one bus/train connection. In a curious way, maybe Melbourne-Canberra has the highest rail to road ratio even though there is no direct rail service! There are 2.42 daily (17 weekly) co-ordinated train/bus services, compared to 3 daily through bus services. If you apportion the co-ordinated services equally to rail and bus, this gives a ratio of 1.21 to 4.21. On this basis, Canberra-Sydney and Melbourne-Sydney would be 17% rail, Adelaide-Melbourne would be 19% rail, and Melbourne-Canberra 23%.
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