Metro Tasmania

Metro Tasmania, commonly called Metro, a Tasmanian Government business enterprise, is the largest bus operator in the state of Tasmania, Australia, with operations in three of the four largest urban centres of Hobart, Launceston, and Burnie. Urban services in Devonport are provided by a private operator, Merseylink Coaches, although Metro does operate a route via Devonport which links the Mersey Community Hospital in Latrobe with the North-West Regional Hospital in Burnie. Services are provided by Metro under a range of urban and non-urban contracts with the Transport Commission, a division within the Department of State Growth.

Northcoast Bus & Coach bodied Scania L94UB in pre-2010 corporate livery
ParentGovernment of Tasmania
Founded1 March 1955 as the Metropolitan Transport Trust (MTT)
HeadquartersHobart
Service areaBurnie
Hobart
Launceston
Service typeBus services
Fleet221 (July 2019)
Annual ridership8.29 million (2017/18)
Chief executiveMegan Morse
Websitewww.metrotas.com.au

History

The history of Metro Tasmania dates back to 1893, when the Hobart Electric Tramway Company (HETCo) was founded by a London consortium. The HETCo was one of the earliest such operators in the world, and was the first electric tramway in the Southern Hemisphere. The company also operated two Dennis motorbuses prior to being taken over in 1913 by the Hobart City Council, who renamed it to Hobart Municipal Tramways (HMT). In 1935, HMT began to use trolleybuses on some networks to replace trams, and petrol buses were introduced on some networks in the 1940s to alleviate congestion.

In 1955, a statutory authority called the Metropolitan Transport Trust (MTT) was formed, and this entity amalgamated the operations of the Hobart Municipal Tramways and Launceston Municipal Transport, which had been operated by the Launceston City Council as Launceston Municipal Tramways between 1911 and 1953 (when 'Tramways' was replaced by 'Transport' following the end of tram services in December 1952). The Hobart Municipal Tramways were taken over by the Trust on 1 March 1955, followed by Launceston on 1 July. At its commencement, the MTT operated trams, trolley, petrol and diesel buses, and was authorised to provide public transport services within a radius of seven miles of the Hobart and Launceston General Post Offices (GPO's).

In 1960, MTT acquired the operations of Norton Coaches, which provided bus services in the Burnie area. This resulted in the MTT operating transport services in the South, North and North-West regions of Tasmania. 1960 also saw the closure of the last of Hobart's tram routes, while in 1968 electric traction was removed altogether from Tasmania's streets when the trolleybuses were retired from both Hobart and Launceston.

The MTT began using Metro as its operating name during the late 1980s when the Trust was a division of the Department of Transport. The Metropolitan Transport Trust was dissolved when Metro Tasmania Pty Ltd became a state-owned company in February 1998.[1] Metro Tasmania has two shareholders, by law both are ministers in the state government. The Treasurer is one shareholder, while the other holds the Transport portfolio or its equivalent. The government appoints directors to the Board of Metro Tasmania, who in turn appoint the Chief Executive Officer.

In May 1999, Metro purchased Hobart Coaches which operated services to New Norfolk, Richmond, Blackmans Bay and the Channel areas of Hobart. Hobart Coaches was retained as the brand name of the regional division of Metro, initially operating with separate drivers and buses at separate yards, however both the workforce and the fleet were gradually absorbed into the main operation. Services to Kingston and Blackmans Bay became part of Metro's Hobart urban network, with Channel services operated under a separate non-urban contract. Contracts originally held by Metro to provide services to New Norfolk and Bothwell are now operated by O'Driscoll Coaches, while Richmond services are operated by Tassielink Transit.

As at July 2018, Metro Tasmania employed 481 people statewide. 8.29 million first boardings were recorded in the 2017/18 financial year, an increase of 1.7% from 2016/17.

Operations

Hobart

In Hobart, Metro's network extends from Cygnet in the southern Channel region, north to Brighton and east to Seven Mile Beach and Opossum Bay with major interchanges in the Hobart, Glenorchy and Rosny Park CBD's and smaller transfer points at Kingston, Howrah Shoreline, Metro Springfield and Bridgewater. Two high-frequency corridors, branded as Turn Up and Go operate between Glenorchy and Hobart via Main Road, New Town Road and Elizabeth Street, and between Howrah Shoreline and Hobart via Clarence Street and Rosny Park. On these corridors a service is scheduled to depart every 10 minutes or better in each direction between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.

Hobart's routes are numbered according to their geographical area:

  • Routes for destinations south of Hobart City are numbered in the 4-- series.
  • Routes for destinations north of Hobart City are numbered in the 5-- series.
  • Routes for destinations east of Hobart City are numbered in the 6-- series.
  • For express variants of routes, the first digit is replaced with an X.
  • School bus routes on the western side of the River Derwent are numbered in the 2-- series, and on the east in the 3-- series. For morning services the third digit is odd, in the afternoon it is even.

Cross-town routes that either bypass Hobart City or travel through the CBD without terminating are Routes 500 (Glenorchy - Hobart - Southern Outlet - Blackmans Bay), 501 (Glenorchy - Hobart - University), 601 (Howrah Shoreline - Rosny Park - Hobart - University), 605 (Howrah Shoreline - Rosny Park - Glenorchy), 694 (Rosny Park - Risdon Vale - Glenorchy) and 696 (Rosny Park - Risdon Vale - Otago/Old Beach - Bridgewater).

Some evening and weekend services on the Glenorchy - Hobart Turn Up and Go corridor are operated to/from New Norfolk as Route 722 by O'Driscolls Coaches as part of a Tasmanian Government project aimed at increasing the integration between urban and non-urban services. Since January 2019, non-urban and urban fringe services operated by private companies (O'Driscolls, Tasmanian Redline Coaches and Tassielink Transit) from destinations such as the Huon Valley, Sorell, Richmond and New Norfolk have been permitted to pick up and set down passengers travelling wholly within the Hobart urban area.

Launceston

In Launceston, the Metro network is bounded by the suburbs of Youngtown, St Leonards, Waverley, Rocherlea, North Riverside, Blackstone Heights and Hadspen. The major interchange is located in St John Street in the Launceston CBD. One high-frequency Turn Up and Go corridor is operated between the University, Mowbray and the City via Invermay Road.

Launceston's routes are divided into five geographical sub-sections:

  • North (Rocherlea, Newnham, Alanvale, Mayfield, University, Mowbray) Routes 6 to 10.
  • East (Ravenswood, Waverley, St Leonards) Routes 20 to 38.
  • South (Youngtown, Norwood, Newstead, Punchbowl, East Launceston, Kings Meadows) Routes 40 to 58.
  • West (West Launceston, Summerhill, Prospect, Blackstone Heights, Hadspen) Routes 60 to 78.
  • River (North Riverside, Trevallyn) Routes 80 to 95.
  • School buses are numbered in the 100 & 200 series but do not follow a geographical pattern.

Metro also operates the Tiger Bus service under contract to the Launceston City Council. In the morning and afternoon peaks a commuter shuttle links the CBD with the Inveresk Park & Ride car park, while during the inter-peak period the bus alternates between three tourist-oriented routes known as the City Explorer, River Explorer and Gorge Explorer.

Burnie

In Burnie, Metro operates within the urban area from Chasm Creek in the east to Somerset in the west, and within suburban Burnie as far south as Shorewell Park, Downlands, Havenview and Emu Heights. Non-urban services are provided westward to Wynyard, and eastwards to Penguin and Ulverstone.

  • Burnie suburban services are numbered between Routes 12 and 54. The two primary services are Routes 41 & 51, a clockwise and anti-clockwise loop linking the Burnie CBD with Upper Burnie, Shorewell Park, Hellyer College, University, North-West Regional Hospital, Park Grove and returning to Burnie.
  • Services to Wynyard and Somerset are numbered between Routes 60 and 68.
  • Services to Penguin and Ulverstone are numbered between Routes 70 and 78. Most services between Burnie and Ulverstone are scheduled to connect to Merseylink's Ulverstone to Devonport service.
  • HospitalLink Route 85 travels between the North-West Regional Hospital in Burnie and the Mersey Community Hospital at Latrobe via the interchanges in Burnie, Ulverstone and Devonport.
  • School buses are numbered in the 200 series.

Ticketing

Metro currently uses a smartcard ticketing system known as Greencard, alongside paper receipt-style tickets which are only purchasable with cash on the bus.

Historically, Metro used paper tickets from its foundation until 1987, when a new magnetic-striped system by Crouzet was introduced in Hobart and Launceston, known initially as Metrofare. This system allowed for easier transfers across the network and an exact fare expiration time of 90 minutes. Upon the ending of this system, all ticketing equipment was sold to Adelaide Metro, who are the last remaining company using the system. Due to its smaller network and patronage, Burnie retained paper tickets and did not use Metrofare.

It was not until 2008 when a new system by INIT GmbH began trials, using an electronic card to validate and purchase tickets. The Greencard system was introduced statewide during 2010, and allows for passengers to deposit a desired amount onto their cards, with the balance debited upon each trip. The Greencard system also requires validation on each boarding, and has a fare expiration of 90 minutes from the initial boarding. Unlike many other jurisdictions with electronic ticketing, passengers do not tag off at the end of their journey. Each bus has a single Greencard reader and ticket sales point, which is operated by the driver.

Fare types include Adult, Concession/Student and Child, and each are divided into Metro's system of zones based on the distance from the Hobart, Launceston and Burnie CBD's. Fares for non-urban areas such as the Channel, South Arm-Opossum Bay, Wynyard and Ulverstone are set by the Transport Commission.

Fleet

As at July 2019, Metro had a statewide fleet of 221 buses, consisting of:

  • 62 Scania N-series rigid buses. Buses with VOV2 bodies are numbered #167-199 and 601-605. Buses with Orana bodies are numbered #252, 253, 613-659.
  • 85 Scania 12.5m low-floor buses. Buses with Northcoast bodies are numbered #205-243. Buses with Custom Coaches CB60 bodies are numbered #300-336, CB80 bodies are numbered #337-344.
  • 4 Scania 14.5m low-floor buses. Three buses have Volgren bodies (#201-203), while bus #245 has a Northcoast body and was purchased following the loss of 12.5m bus #229 to a vehicle fire in August 2006.
  • 15 Scania low-floor articulated buses with Custom Coaches bodies. Buses #723-726 have CB60 bodies, while #727-730 and #736-742 have CB80 bodies.
  • 5 MAN low-floor articulated buses with King Long bodies (purchased second-hand from Skybus in Melbourne). These carry fleet numbers #731-735.
  • 11 Scania 11.9m low-floor buses (acquired from Melbourne Airport Ltd), numbered #400-410.
  • 40 Bustech 12.5m XDi low-floor buses, with fleet numbers starting from #800.

100 Bustech XDi 12.5m low-floor buses with Cummins engines are being progressively introduced to the Metro fleet, with the prototype constructed at the Bustech factory in Brisbane and the remaining 99 being built locally in partnership with Tasmanian company Elphinstone Pty Ltd at their factory in Wynyard. These will be numbered #800-899.

The Hobart fleet is made up of all 20 articulated buses, the four 14.5m buses, two of the Scania 11.9m low-floors (#409 & 410) and a mix of the Scania rigid and 12.5m low-floor buses. The first 12 Bustech XDi buses (#800-811) were delivered to Hobart, while Launceston commenced receiving deliveries with #812, and even-numbered units from that point. Odd-numbered units (#813, 815, 817, 819 etc) continue to be delivered to Hobart, while Burnie is due to receive some deliveries in the second half of 2019.

The Launceston fleet features the new Bustech XDi, and Scania 12.5m and rigid buses, while Burnie has four rigids with Orana bodies, three 12.5m Northcoast bodied low-floors and the majority of the 11.9m low-floor fleet (#400 to 408).

Metro has used a variety of buses in its history, with the MTT commencing in 1955 with AEC Regal half-cab buses. From 1955, over 300 petrol engined Bedford SB3s were purchased followed in the 1970s by 75 Hino BT51s, 64 Leyland Nationals and 68 Volvo B58s.[2][3]

In the 1980s, three Volvo B58s and 19 Volvo B10M articulated buses were purchased, as well as four rigid B10Ms,[4] 28 Mercedes-Benz OH1316s.[2] and the first Scania N112s.[5]

Preserved buses

Several vehicles once operated by the MTT and Metro have now been preserved by the Tasmanian Transport Museum and the Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society. These include:

  • 1942 Canton trolleybus #74 - Donated by MTT in 1964 to Tasmanian Transport Museum, in full operating condition.[6]
  • 1948 AEC Regal #16 - Acquired in 1976 by Tasmanian Transport Museum, unrestored.[7]
  • 1953 BUT trolleybus #235 - Donated by MTT in 1968 to Tasmanian Transport Museum, last trolleybus to operate in Tasmania[6]
  • 1971 Bedford SB3 #249 - Donated by Metro to Tasmanian Transport Museum in 1988, in full operating condition. The last bus built by City Bodyworks Moonah[7]
  • 1975 Leyland National #601 - Donated by Metro to Tasmanian Transport Museum in 1992[7]
  • 1980 Volvo B58 #747 - Preserved By Private Owner, being restored to original livery. First articulated bus in full service in Tasmania.
  • 1989 Scania N113CRB #134 - Donated by Metro to Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society in 2010, in full operational condition. Minor restoration ongoing[8]
  • 1985 Volvo B10ML articulated bus - Donated by Metro to Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society in April 2016, in full operational condition. When donated, was the oldest bus in Government service in Australia. Currently being restored to original livery
  • 1991 MAN 10.180HOCL "Busy Bee" midibus - Preserved by private owner. Restoration ongoing
  • 1992 Scania N113CRB prototype Low Floor #200 - Purchased by Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society in March 2017, courtesy sponsorship from Scania Australia. Full restoration complete.[8]

Livery

The initial bus livery adopted in 1955 was the same larch green and cream carried by trams and trolleybuses. In the late 1970s a new livery of rolled gold and cream appeared. A re-branding also occurred, shifting away from Metropolitan Transport Trust/MTT to Metro Tasmania, and a two-tone apple green livery was introduced at the time to reflect this. This livery can be seen today on some older buses, and its initial purpose was to signify buses with passenger-operated rear doors.

In the early 1990s, new Metro eXpress (MX) services were introduced, and a number of buses were given a livery of green and yellow on white. Both two-tone green and MX livery exist today on older stock, but this has been replaced mainly by a corporate white, with all buses sporting a yellow front to aid with visibility.[9]

Depots

Metro maintains three large-sized depots, one each in Hobart (Derwent Park), Launceston and Burnie. These depots house Metro's buses and managerial operations, with Hobart being the central office. Each depot contains refuelling and workshop services.

The original headquarters for the MTT were in central Hobart, with the Depot in Campbell St. Much of the historical facade still exists today on the corner of Campbell and Macquarie Streets, opposite City Hall. Part of the depot was closed between 1985 and 1987 to allow for the construction of the Sheraton Hotel (now the Hotel Grand Chancellor), and coincided with the opening of the MTT's Springfield Interchange which replaced this lost capacity and also included workshops.

Following the Tasman Bridge disaster in January 1975, the MTT was dramatically impacted as it did not have any depot facilities on the eastern side of the Derwent River. A temporary depot was established at Bellerive Oval while work proceeded to construct a new facility at Mornington. This included workshops and driver amenities to enable the MTT's Eastern Shore services to operate independently from the City Depot while the Tasman Bridge was being rebuilt. The Mornington Depot remained an important part of the MTT's operations following the re-opening of the Tasman Bridge in 1977, however its usage gradually decreased as operations began to be centralised at Springfield during the 1980s and 1990s. A small compound was retained for some years for use as a satellite yard before being vacated entirely.

Satellite Yards

Because of the widespread nature of their services, Metro also have various satellite yards located in non-urban and outer suburban areas. These yards allow buses to begin their daily services in specific places, and can allow for greater early morning frequency for some routes and reduce the need to run buses out of service. The yards have minimal facilities and exist so as buses can be stored overnight, ready to begin an inward service the next day.

Hobart

  • Hobart (CBD)  The compound at Macquarie Point is used as a break facility and does not have buses stabled overnight.
  • Mornington  The former depot has been replaced by a satellite compound adjacent to the Mornington Waste Transfer Station.
  • Bridgewater/Brighton  Buses used for services for Bridgewater and the northern suburbs are stabled here overnight. Due to its larger size, buses that have been withdrawn from use and are awaiting disposal are also stored at Bridgewater.
  • Kingston  Buses from this yard serve Kingston, Blackmans Bay and some Channel destinations in the morning peak hour.
  • Lauderdale  Serving Lauderdale and South Arm in the morning peak.
  • Woodbridge, Middleton, Opossum Bay, Cygnet, and Gordon  Each of these yards house one bus overnight, which operate the morning peak hour service from those areas.

Burnie

  • Wynyard  Two buses are stored overnight.
  • Ulverstone  One bus is stored overnight.
  • Latrobe - A bus used on the HospitalLink service is stored overnight.

See also

References

  1. Annual Report 2011/12 Metro Tasmania
  2. Travers, Greg (1989). The Australian Government Bus. Elizabeth: Railmac Publications. pp. 6, 11, 20, 40, 46, 49. ISBN 0 949817 75 9.
  3. Metro Tasmania - Volvo B58 Disposal List Bus Australia
  4. Metro Tasmania - Volvo B10M Mk11 Rigids Disposal list Bus Australia
  5. "Tasmanian Update" Australian Bus Panorama 4/6 May 1989
  6. Tasmanian Transport Museum Society. "Exhibits - Trolley buses". Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  7. Tasmanian Transport Museum Society. "Exhibit - MTT Petrol and Diesel Buses". Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  8. Tasmanian Bus & Coach Society. "About Us". Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  9. Tasmania, Metro (1993). Centenary: 1893-1993. Hobart, Tasmania: Metro Tasmania.
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