My new boss and a number of my key clients are located up the Sunshine Coast, so I am finding myself up there about once a months for various meetings and workshops that can’t be done remotely.

It’s a really tedious trip to make, averaging about 1.5 -2 hours by car. This means a typical 90 minute meeting pretty much wipes out a day, once you take into account travel and preparation time.

Unfortunately, the Sunshine Coast is not currently linked to Brisbane by any serious public transport. There are long term plans for a suburban rail extension from Beerwah to Maroochydore (the so-called CAMCOS line) but this is at least 15 years away, if not further. In the meantime, the closest rail link is the North Coast line which passes through the Sunshine Hinterland to Nambour.

TransLink provides a bus service connecting with trains at Landsborough that is the main PT link to the Sunshine Coast. Unfortunately both the train and bus are really not good for business-type trips from Brisbane to the coast. It takes 2 to 3 hours do do the trip and there are also a grand total of 4 services that arrive on the Coast before midday.

It’s about time to do something serious about this.

Not only does CAMCOS have to be brought forward (instead of being pushed back as is constantly rumoured) but some decent interim solutions need to be found

  • more contra-peak Nambour trains need to be run (if the network can cope – it’s a single track line)
  • all trains at Landsborough need to be met by a direct bus to Mooloolaba and Maroochydore (not deviating through Chancellor Park back streets, although I guess the University is acceptable)
  • in fill express buses need to be provided from Caboolture direct to the Coast at times when the Nambour rail line is at capacity

I can’t be the only one who would rather not have to drive.

Inspired by The Age “Management Line” Blog article Daily Commute Blues, here is my typical morning commute, as recorded by me last Monday.

7.15 am leave home, walk to bus stop
7.22 am arrive at bus stop
7.31 am bus arrives at stop (7 minutes late)
7.59 am bus arrives at Indooroopilly Bus Station (12 minutes late)
walk to Indooroopilly Railway Station
8.04 am arrive at railway station
8.06 am train departs Indooroopilly (1 minute late)
8.23 am train arrives Central Station (1 minute late)
walk up hill to office
8.30 am arrive office (dead on time)

The last few days the bus has been arriving at Indooroopilly as late as 8.02 am meaning I get the 8.08 stopping train.

I also recorded it the week after Easter when both schools and universities were on

7.15 am leave home, walk to bus stop
7.22 am arrive at bus stop
7.26 am bus arrives at stop (1 minutes late)
7.45 am bus arrives at Indooroopilly Bus Station (2 minutes early)
walk to Indooroopilly Railway Station
7.50 am arrive at railway station
7.51 am train departs Indooroopilly (1 minute late)
8.05 am train arrives Central Station (1 minute late)
walk up hill to office
8.12 am arrive office (18 minutes early)

What a difference education trips make!

One of the skills generally required to get a proper job as a transport planner is experience in using one or more of the commercial transportation planning software packages. For example a typical transport modeller

” would be expected to have experience in multi-model studies & modelling software such as TRIPS, EMME2, QVIEW, SATURN, PEDROUTE or Microsimulation” (

The only problem is, just about the only way to get the experience in these packages is to have a job that uses them. Your classic catch-22. There is a small amount training available for some of the packages involve flying to the United States or Canada for a 2 day workshop. This is something I can’t really afford. None of the Unis or TAFEs in Australia teaches them.

So I am trying D.I.Y.

My current project is to teach myself something about the Cube Voyager transportation planning software produced by Citilabs.

I am using the Inner Peel region of the Perth area (Mandurah – Amarillo – Pinjarra) as a project site and bit-by-bit building up a model using the scraps of information I have available.

I have a demo copy of the software that comes with a basic tutorial. Apart from the help file, sample scripts and datafiles, I don’t have any other resources. It doesn’t help that one of the key steps in the tutorial doesn’t actually work. If anyone knows of where I might find other resources – manual, course notes, CBT package – I would be very grateful.

To start, I jumped in at the deep end and put together a 35 zone region featuring basic highway and rapid transit networks. Now I have gone back to the beginning and am trying to synthesize a potential 2026 land use breakdown for each of the zones. This allows me to do the first stage of the model: trip generation. There are then 3 more stages to go.

Fun, in a warped sort of way.

Footnote: yes I know there are lots of objections to classic 4-stage transport modelling. I’m setting that aside for the sake of this exercise – and my immediate career goals!