Transport for New South Wales wants to improve bus services between the northern beaches and the CBD.
The plan was originally called BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) but is now the B-line. It runs special double-deck buses from Mona Vale across the Spit Bridge and across the Harbour Bridge. Double-deck buses are economical of road and kerb space but cannot load and unload as quickly as articulated buses with three or four doors. Hence full double-deck buses are not suited for frequent stops where each stop sees a numerous passengers board and alight.
The extraordinary thing about B-line is its cost. There are 38 new vehicles costing about $650000 each which totals about $25 million. There are minor changes to bus stops and kerbs at many places and there is lopping and/or removal of a number of trees. There are 250 parking spaces provided at Warriewood, 250 at Brookvale, 150 at Manly Vale and 120 at Dee Why. A former cinema building at Spit Junction has been demolished and some of its frontage is becoming a bus stop. Nothing in all that begins to explain the half-billion dollar ($516 million) total cost of the project.
B-line services do not stop at North Sydney. Public transport routes should of course serve major centres like North Sydney rather than bypass them. However many trees in Miller St would need ugly pruning to pass the double-deck B-line buses.
Transport for NSW should find a way to serve North Sydney, perhaps by building inbound and outbound B-line stops on the Warringah Freeway near the Mount St underpass. Walking between the stops and Victoria Cross should be made simple, legible, quick, easy and under cover.
The NSW Opposition has alleged that B-line barely increases public transport capacity in the Northern Beaches area and therefore isn't worthwhile. Some services were removed, making the nett capacity change difficult to determine. Learn more...
An article in the SMHerald confirms there is a capacity issue at peak hour.
The new service commenced on 26th November 2017 even though only some of the 38 new buses had then been delivered. Presumably a mixture of new and old buses started the service to Mona Vale. There was to be an extension to Newport later but it was cancelled by an announcement in July 2018, apparently because of local opposition aimed at over-development.
Some motorists were not happy that former transit lanes (i.e. high-occupancy vehicle lanes) were converted to bus lanes.
Ironically, B-line services DID go to North Sydney on New Year's Eve 31 December 2017 instead of to the CBD!
North Sydney Council has prepared a strategy to make the area around Victoria Cross more people-oriented and less highway. Unfortunately, the strategy wants to remove all vehicles from the block south of Berry St. That block is traversed by hundreds of buses daily on routes 151, 168, 173, 188, 200, 202, 207, 208, 209, 227, 228, 229, 230, 245, 247, E50, 252, E54, 254, 260, 261, 286, 287 and 291. While traffic clearly needs to be contained, removing those buses would be a disaster for the area. Council must understand that the buses should stay but other traffic should be excluded between (say) 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.