The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

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Tim Williams
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The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Tim Williams »

What is the future of the Bus Australia forum, it seems to be dying and the probable reason is that some of postings have lost their way. The forum is supposed to be about buses - their history, current and future types, routes and timetables and the operations in general.

But postings now seem to be dominated by a few regulars constantly pushing their “hobby horses” – such topics as dwell times (a recent one being here compared to Prague??), step heights/fully flat floors vs low entrance buses and their apparent view that some/most locally produced buses are inferior to those from overseas, especially Europe, trams/LRT’s are generally better than buses and the constant criticism of TfNSW.

So, let’s run through each of these:

Dwell times and Prague – here is a city with a 1,000 year history, the capital of Czechoslovakia, within Eastern Europe. It has a population of about 1.3 million within an area of 496 sq/kms – by comparison, Adelaide has a similar population spread out (and expanding) over an area of 3,260 sq/kms. Prague has a large tram fleet and 3 or 4 metro lines – population density and a stable size (and lower car ownership) make for a more efficient and better patronized public transport system. Dwell times would be far more important there and the Eastern European’s are used to and have to accept the “cattle truck” conditions of high standee transport, whereas in this country a high proportion of people own or have access to cars and will not use public transport if it is not comfortable or reliable and convenient.

Low entrance vs. fully low floor buses - I sincerely believe that low entrance buses cater well for disabled or handicapped passengers, so having only half the bus low floor is not a problem. I do accept that having only a front entrance and centre exit can result in standees using only the front flat floor half, but generally we do not carry the standing loads of Eastern Europe. Low entrance buses are mechanically much more straightforward and cheaper to purchase and operate. Road profiles in outer suburban areas and country towns make the operation of low entrance buses difficult, let alone fully low floor buses which are often lower and with increased overhangs at the rear, with their major mechanical units vulnerable to road strikes.

Approximately 100 buses are sold in Australia every month with probably almost half being imported. So, with the small production numbers here, it is quite amazing the quality and sophistication of the buses that are made. At the other end of the scale are the various versions of the Mercedes Benz Citaro, where production to date totals over 60,000 units – with those numbers a lot more money can be spent on research and development.
Are trams/LRT’s better than buses at people moving – there is no single answer this as it depends on total population of the cities/urban areas etc., population density, stability of areas served and many other factors.

Finally TfNSW. It is easy to criticize such organisations, they do it in London (TfL), in Dublin (Transport for Ireland – Dublin Bus), in West Midlands, in Adelaide and so on. As a remote country town bus operator, I had many ongoing dealings with TfNSW and their previous iterations over a number of years and I found the organization to be very professional – with focus on safety, standards of operation, customer (passenger) focused all within limited financial constraints.

Bus Australia is supposed to be a forum for bus enthusiasts, let us please keep it that way.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by eddy »

I thought this board covered all types of transport.
Parrahub, an extra option in the public transport menu http://www.parrahub.org.au/
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Tim Williams »

Yes Eddy, your comments are correct - the emphasis is obviously on buses, but other transport is covered and I probably should have noted that, but I honestly feel that the Forum will not "prosper" if those few contributors continue push their pet subjects over and over again.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Campbelltown busboy »

Tim Williams wrote: Sat Oct 07, 2023 2:42 pm What is the future of the Bus Australia forum, it seems to be dying and the probable reason is that some of postings have lost their way. The forum is supposed to be about buses - their history, current and future types, routes and timetables and the operations in general.

But postings now seem to be dominated by a few regulars constantly pushing their “hobby horses” – such topics as dwell times (a recent one being here compared to Prague??), step heights/fully flat floors vs low entrance buses and their apparent view that some/most locally produced buses are inferior to those from overseas, especially Europe, trams/LRT’s are generally better than buses and the constant criticism of TfNSW.

So, let’s run through each of these:

Dwell times and Prague – here is a city with a 1,000 year history, the capital of Czechoslovakia, within Eastern Europe. It has a population of about 1.3 million within an area of 496 sq/kms – by comparison, Adelaide has a similar population spread out (and expanding) over an area of 3,260 sq/kms. Prague has a large tram fleet and 3 or 4 metro lines – population density and a stable size (and lower car ownership) make for a more efficient and better patronized public transport system. Dwell times would be far more important there and the Eastern European’s are used to and have to accept the “cattle truck” conditions of high standee transport, whereas in this country a high proportion of people own or have access to cars and will not use public transport if it is not comfortable or reliable and convenient.

Low entrance vs. fully low floor buses - I sincerely believe that low entrance buses cater well for disabled or handicapped passengers, so having only half the bus low floor is not a problem. I do accept that having only a front entrance and centre exit can result in standees using only the front flat floor half, but generally we do not carry the standing loads of Eastern Europe. Low entrance buses are mechanically much more straightforward and cheaper to purchase and operate. Road profiles in outer suburban areas and country towns make the operation of low entrance buses difficult, let alone fully low floor buses which are often lower and with increased overhangs at the rear, with their major mechanical units vulnerable to road strikes.

Approximately 100 buses are sold in Australia every month with probably almost half being imported. So, with the small production numbers here, it is quite amazing the quality and sophistication of the buses that are made. At the other end of the scale are the various versions of the Mercedes Benz Citaro, where production to date totals over 60,000 units – with those numbers a lot more money can be spent on research and development.
Are trams/LRT’s better than buses at people moving – there is no single answer this as it depends on total population of the cities/urban areas etc., population density, stability of areas served and many other factors.

Finally TfNSW. It is easy to criticize such organisations, they do it in London (TfL), in Dublin (Transport for Ireland – Dublin Bus), in West Midlands, in Adelaide and so on. As a remote country town bus operator, I had many ongoing dealings with TfNSW and their previous iterations over a number of years and I found the organization to be very professional – with focus on safety, standards of operation, customer (passenger) focused all within limited financial constraints.

Bus Australia is supposed to be a forum for bus enthusiasts, let us please keep it that way.
Fleet lists has posted in the monthly stats thread in the news and admin section of the board that the transport discussion borad will stay functional as long as the fleet lists moderators keep updating operator listings when a fleet change happens
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Merc1107 »

Tim Williams wrote: Sat Oct 07, 2023 2:42 pm I do accept that having only a front entrance and centre exit can result in standees using only the front flat floor half, but generally we do not carry the standing loads of Eastern Europe. Low entrance buses are mechanically much more straightforward and cheaper to purchase and operate. Road profiles in outer suburban areas and country towns make the operation of low entrance buses difficult, let alone fully low floor buses which are often lower and with increased overhangs at the rear, with their major mechanical units vulnerable to road strikes.
This, particularly, strikes me as a particularly rural or small-minded attitude towards the bus service. There are services all over Australia, including in Adelaide, that carry standing loads throughout the day, even into the night, and having operated these types of routes regularly, I can tell you it is tiresome having to bellow at the passengers to move down the bus, and to have my schedule completely annihilated by people's inconsiderate behaviour in blocking the aisles. Having previously relied on services plagued with serious late-running users, I also realise how frustrating it is for someone's bus to be late. It astonishes me the cost of these delays, both on passengers, and the public purse, are not more widely recognised, nor solutions sought to rectify them.

The O405NH in Perth sat quite low, due to its low-profile tyres. However, unless an operator had an utterly cavalier attitude towards their job, issues with bottoming out were rare. Their low-ride, combined with an aggressive kneeling system, made access even from a gravel shoulder very easy; something no newer models have truly replicated, I've noticed.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Tim Williams »

Yes, a typical bus driver's attitude!!
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Merc1107 »

Tim Williams wrote: Sat Oct 07, 2023 10:51 pmYes, a typical bus driver's attitude!!
Would you care to elaborate rather than being dismissive? Or are you convinced that you're right?
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Lt. Commander Data »

Tim Williams wrote: Sat Oct 07, 2023 10:51 pm Yes, a typical bus driver's attitude!!
Why is this phrased to be somewhat derogatory? Considering this forum is largely targeted at bus enthusiasts (but obviously not limited by mode of transport), and many bus enthusiasts will go on to drive buses, you can expect many members of the forum will be bus drivers.

Considering the nationwide/global bus driver shortage, perhaps its time more operators took into account the “typical bus driver’s attitude” and made positive changes for the drivers in an effort to retain staff, and attract more! There is little point worrying about network planning when there aren’t enough drivers to operate the services the public require.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Tim Williams »

I still believe this forum needs some direction - it should not be hijacked by those with their particular "hobby horses", as noted above, neither should it be a medium for bus drivers' rants.

However, if that is the way you (the majority) want it, then I believe bus enthusiasts will be poorly served and you may see less and less interest in this forum and judging by the apparent fall off of postings over the last year or so, I believe that is already happening.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Merc1107 »

Tim Williams wrote: Sun Oct 08, 2023 12:39 pmI still believe this forum needs some direction - it should not be hijacked by those with their particular "hobby horses", as noted above, neither should it be a medium for bus drivers' rants.
Tim Williams wrote: Sun Oct 08, 2023 12:39 pm However, if that is the way you (the majority) want it, then I believe bus enthusiasts will be poorly served and you may see less and less interest in this forum and judging by the apparent fall off of postings over the last year or so, I believe that is already happening.
You seem not to appreciate that on the whole, discussion boards have lost their popularity as other means of communication have become more prevalent; I dare say that a "discussion board" is a foreign concept to anyone not already in their mid-late 20s. Facebook, Instagram, Discord, and countless other platforms offer the opportunity to not only share images and content with greater ease than the ATDB, but carefully curate membership and even whether posts are publicly visible - the latter two being of particular importance in an era of both stringent social media policies, and younger enthusiasts that overwhelmingly seem to have a wanton disregard for their conduct or its impact upon others. Posts, and user's comments can be 'reacted' to, which is designed to keep people checking their notifications for another dopamine hit - some discussion boards have this feature, but not all.

If you've ever taken the time to search old posts on this forum, you will see that various 'hobby horses' have been wheeled about by numerous posters, even cliques of enthusiasts, and rigorous debates had as to the merits of some of these theories over the many years this board has been online. You won't find much, if any, vigorous discussion on the various Facebook groups for example, as the manner in which the platform functions seems to bury these sorts of posts unless they're really controversial or receiving many "reactions"; in fact, if the average posters goes against the grain in the Facebook echo chambers, they may quickly find themselves ostracised, if not kicked out entirely for their "misdemeanour".

To have written a response to a post querying "the future of the Bus Australia forum", how it "seems to be dying", as "some of postings (sic) have lost their way", offering my own experiences, only to receive a short, churlish response in return that trots out a tired stereotype about bus drivers, well what can I say? Do you fail to appreciate the irony of this? Enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes; there are those who have a keen interest in particular bus companies, their fleets, those who have a love for older or new buses, people who trawl through timetables to see the development of a bus service, those who have an interest in Government megaprojects. The list goes on, and on. The recurrent discussion between a few posters on a select few topics is simply a great deal of enthusiasm for a particular topic - a trait we all possess to some degree or another, so I'm not really interested in criticising it unless the behaviour is more akin to bullying. The Future of the Board thread has chronicled average daily posts each month since March 2020 - at which time the average number of posts was about 36-38, and I note Fleetlists made mention of the first COVID lockdown boosting that number over what it had been. Towards the end of 2020 the average postings were already back around 30 again. It is indicative of the small user base here on ATDB maintaining a relatively steady level of discussion.
Lt. Commander Data wrote: Sun Oct 08, 2023 10:04 amConsidering the nationwide/global bus driver shortage, perhaps its time more operators took into account the “typical bus driver’s attitude” and made positive changes for the drivers in an effort to retain staff, and attract more! There is little point worrying about network planning when there aren’t enough drivers to operate the services the public require.
Don't forget, the staff working at the coalface have no appreciation for the problems faced by a business...
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by system improver »

The Forum has been, and remains, a great resource for enthusiasts. You don't have to post material to access past information. Unlike Facebook, it is easy to search past topics. I am glad that Geoff still gives his time to provide the resource to us. As long as people are not abusive towards others, I see no problem with any transport related posts. There is no compulsion to read anything.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by captainch »

I Have been onboard on this site from the start but interesting to know were have all those people at the beginning now gone I have been in this industry for over 55 years see a lot of changes good & bad My problem as been for a few years now is some younger people think they know everything & I have been abused I LOOK AT IT THIS WAY everybody had a right to a say right or wrong its called fredom of speach I have been repeatly asked what would you know? Even as a driver have been told I would do it your way to which I reply do you drive buses? NO well when you do come & see me! And i will not be told move the bus to there need a pic! I Say have you said PLEASE yes I would but I'm on a meal break go away. OK I will up & complain I said go for it! I Can be your best mate or "FREDDY KRUEGER have it your way. In 55 years I HAVE ENJOYED MY LIFE ON THE BUSES untill I retired I HAVE NOT been on a bus since I retired but have been involved with bus groups since even now I only go if I will be interested in something & a lot of my fellow mates feel the same way!
"CAPTAIN.C.H "Lives in the home of "SUGAR CANE' not "chickens" :lol: :lol:.........."INGHAM NTH QLD"
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Campbelltown busboy »

The borad will last as long as the busaustralia.com website domain is kept upto date as the borad is apart of busaustralia.com website in general
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Guy_Arab »

I WILL CONDITION TO HELP BUS OWNERS FOR MAUALS AS OLD AS 1950S
GUY ARAB
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by ScaniaGrenda »

Campbelltown busboy wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2023 9:00 am The borad will last as long as the busaustralia.com website domain is kept upto date as the borad is apart of busaustralia.com website in general
In taking into account user activity too, no users no point keeping the doors open, much like a business that isn't making money if there's no customers. Someone on the administrator end is footing the bill to keep the domain(s) active, I don't know who the ATDB administrators chose for hosting but could be anywhere from a couple of dollars a month if paying monthly or $20 - $100 for yearly, not cheap and it does add up.

The Australian enthusiast scene stands to lose a lot should the ATDB shutdown, fleetlists will quickly run out of date and be down to individuals to maintain their own which will be a nightmare to do with so many old, new & emerging operators out there. The photo gallery that's been another mega part of the ATDB domain, photos will become lost media as a lot of them are only hosted here (right holders may no longer have the raw original files, no longer be involved in the bus scene or have since passed).

Much like bus preservation in it's own, I think the preservation of digital assets are important, should ATDB shutdown I hope they can make good use of the fleet-lists posting a download file of the fleet-lists database as a reference only source and the photo gallery photos possibly backed up onto local media and perhaps shared with places like a bus museum or historical society? (Maybe Archive.org? It's copyright issues tho that concerns me)

ATDB closing is one thing, it's the losing of what is history that is another and really concerns me.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Campbelltown busboy »

ScaniaGrenda wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2023 5:28 pm
Campbelltown busboy wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2023 9:00 am The borad will last as long as the busaustralia.com website domain is kept upto date as the borad is apart of busaustralia.com website in general
In taking into account user activity too, no users no point keeping the doors open, much like a business that isn't making money if there's no customers. Someone on the administrator end is footing the bill to keep the domain(s) active, I don't know who the ATDB administrators chose for hosting but could be anywhere from a couple of dollars a month if paying monthly or $20 - $100 for yearly, not cheap and it does add up.

The Australian enthusiast scene stands to lose a lot should the ATDB shutdown, fleetlists will quickly run out of date and be down to individuals to maintain their own which will be a nightmare to do with so many old, new & emerging operators out there. The photo gallery that's been another mega part of the ATDB domain, photos will become lost media as a lot of them are only hosted here (right holders may no longer have the raw original files, no longer be involved in the bus scene or have since passed).

Much like bus preservation in it's own, I think the preservation of digital assets are important, should ATDB shutdown I hope they can make good use of the fleet-lists posting a download file of the fleet-lists database as a reference only source and the photo gallery photos possibly backed up onto local media and perhaps shared with places like a bus museum or historical society? (Maybe Archive.org? It's copyright issues tho that concerns me)

ATDB closing is one thing, it's the losing of what is history that is another and really concerns me.
This version of the ATDB turns 20 next year it might last another 20 years there is older version of the ATDB archived somewhere
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by ScaniaGrenda »

This turns out to be quite fortunate when you consider it; genuine appreciation is necessary as a lot of internet sites or content won't really last beyond three - five years on average. Take a good look at some of the older photo threads on here, Image providers that were the go to back in the day like Imageshack, links expired or hosting providers have shut up shop. Internet content rot is a real thing and some of those photos were never added to the gallery so as good as gone forever when you take into what I said in my other post.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Campbelltown busboy »

ScaniaGrenda wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2023 6:41 pm This turns out to be quite fortunate when you consider it; genuine appreciation is necessary as a lot of internet sites or content won't really last beyond three - five years on average. Take a good look at some of the older photo threads on here, Image providers that were the go to back in the day like Imageshack, links expired or hosting providers have shut up shop. Internet content rot is a real thing and some of those photos were never added to the gallery so as good as gone forever when you take into what I said in my other post.
The site as a whole will keep working as long as someone keeps maintaining the home page and the domain is kept upto date
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Lt. Commander Data »

ScaniaGrenda wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2023 5:28 pm
In taking into account user activity too, no users no point keeping the doors open, much like a business that isn't making money if there's no customers. Someone on the administrator end is footing the bill to keep the domain(s) active, I don't know who the ATDB administrators chose for hosting but could be anywhere from a couple of dollars a month if paying monthly or $20 - $100 for yearly, not cheap and it does add up.

The Australian enthusiast scene stands to lose a lot should the ATDB shutdown, fleetlists will quickly run out of date and be down to individuals to maintain their own which will be a nightmare to do with so many old, new & emerging operators out there. The photo gallery that's been another mega part of the ATDB domain, photos will become lost media as a lot of them are only hosted here (right holders may no longer have the raw original files, no longer be involved in the bus scene or have since passed).

Much like bus preservation in it's own, I think the preservation of digital assets are important, should ATDB shutdown I hope they can make good use of the fleet-lists posting a download file of the fleet-lists database as a reference only source and the photo gallery photos possibly backed up onto local media and perhaps shared with places like a bus museum or historical society? (Maybe Archive.org? It's copyright issues tho that concerns me)

ATDB closing is one thing, it's the losing of what is history that is another and really concerns me.
Well said ScaniaGrenda. Internet Preservation is probably something that we will begin to see more or looking into the future - sites like the web archive have already begun this. Some ATDB stuff is already on there, although most discussion threads are not.

I’m sure if it came to it, the site owner could start a Go Fund Me (or similar) to continue the domain name, and many users would likely help cover the cost. Even $100 a year spread over many people would be a decently easy target to reach.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Merc1107 »

Lt. Commander Data wrote: Sat Oct 14, 2023 9:18 pm Well said ScaniaGrenda. Internet Preservation is probably something that we will begin to see more or looking into the future - sites like the web archive have already begun this. Some ATDB stuff is already on there, although most discussion threads are not.
The Internet Archive's "spider" will generally crawl a site after it is requested in the search. It may just need some persuasion to work through the various threads. I have noticed archived posts from the 2000s use a different URL format to today, and the search only shows addresses rather than page titles, making searches more difficult than they need to be.
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by Campbelltown busboy »

A topic that is starting to come up in the NSW discussion mostly in entries by swift is the issue of the way bus drivers are being treated by passengers. Would topics like that be allowed on a enthusiast discussion board like the ATDB as we wouldn’t have a bus scene if there wasn’t any bus drivers to drive buses
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Re: The Bus Australia Forum - now and the future

Post by ScaniaGrenda »

Valid Point Campbelltown Busboy, can't really see why discussion from a drivers prospective wouldn't be allowed just because the board is more enthusiast centered than operator focused. I'm sure there's been drivers here in the past who have raised concerns about passengers while on their runs and no one really had an issue with it being spoken of here.

I think it's silly not to allow it.
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