Following the phenomenal success of the Route 703 & 888/889 SmartBus corridors introduced in 2002, the Labor State Government promised an upgrade of the popular Warrigal Rd Route 700 service at the 2002 state election, with the upgrade commencing on 14 June 2015, with totems, stop upgrades and realtime information rolled out over the next 18 months.
Route 700 (Box Hill – Mordialloc)
Frequency upgrades with the SmartBus timetable included a 15 min interpeak headway (over the old 20 min headway) and additional trips after 1900 Monday to Saturday and on Sundays, with the hourly evening and 50 min Sunday services upgraded to half-hourly.
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In order to speed up trips between Box Hill and Burwood, Route 700 no longer followed its traditional path down various side streets in Mont Albert, Surrey Hills and Camberwell. Instead, buses were re-routed to travel along Station St and Riversdale Rd via Wattle Park.
Passengers along the bypassed section would be served by Route 766, running at much inferior timetable, with evening and Sunday services deleted altogether, as detailed below.
Further route changes in Wattle Park would take place on 24 July 2015, with Route 767 streamlined along the full length of Elgar Rd into Box Hill with Route 735 operating via Station St, Canterbury Rd, Haig St and Foch St.
A route change was also made in the vicinity of Chadstone Shopping Centre, with buses to/from Oakleigh entering via Princes Hwy rather than Middle Rd, bypassing two stops which would now only be served by Grenda’s 800, 802, 804 & 862 Dandenong services. With the upgraded timetable, early morning and evening trips now travelled via the centre.
A third interpeak extension to Chelsea was also introduced, allowing residents along Station Street in Aspendale to travel home around 1400.
Route 766 (Box Hill – Thomas St, Burwod)
The streamlining of Route 700 via Riversdale Rd and Station St on 14 June 2005 saw the introduction of Route 766, operating via the previous alignment through Mont Albert, Surrey Hills and parts of Camberwell.
Bizarrely, it was decided trips terminate at Thomas St and Warrigal Rd in Burwood (opposite Wattle Park Primary School), despite the weekday runtime allowing ample time for trips to continue onto Burwod Hwy, which would enable interchange with the 75 tram and access to Burwood Shops. Passengers wishing to continue south were forced to wait for a Route 700 bus, with transfers were not coordinated.
The terminus was later relocated to Burwood Hwy effective 13 June 2006.
Route 766 largely operated to a significantly reduced timetable compared to the old Route 700 offering, with services after 1900 deleted, along with the Sunday service. Twelve years on, the route still fails to operate the minimum service standard of 2100 finish seven days a week.
Below is a comparison of span and frequencies through Surrey Hills between Box Hill and Thomas St, Burwood before and after:
- First bus ex Wattle Park 0615 (previously 0647)
- First bus ex Box Hill 0626 (previously 0701)
- AM peak: every 20 mins (previously 30 mins)
- Interpeak: every 30 mins (previously 30 mins with some 60 min gaps)
- PM peak: every 20 mins (previously 30 mins)
- Last bus ex Wattle Park 1835 (previously 1852)
- Last bus ex Box Hill 1900 (previously 1905)
- First bus ex Wattle Park 0758 (previously no service)
- First bus ex Box Hill 0815 (previously no service)
- 0800 to 1400: every 30 mins (previously no service)
- 1400 to 1800: every 40 mins (previously no service)
- Last bus ex Wattle Park 1810 (previously no service)
- Last bus ex Box Hill 1740 (previously no service)
- No service (previously buses between 0830 & 1900, every 50 – 55 mins)
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