UH OH: State Transit overestimated the number of kilometres travelled by the Newcastle bus fleet by more than a million kilometres.A COMPUTER glitch is being blamed for the incorrect reporting of transport statistics for Newcastle buses, with a state government performance document showing the fleet travelled a million more kilometres than it actually did.
Also contained within the State Transit performance report – which measures on-time running, reliability and patronage– was a false claim that the bus fleet completed an extra 51,000 timetabled trips in the year between December 2015and 2016.
It was only after aNewcastle Heraldinquiry on Wednesday, prompted by concerns raised by public transport advocate Darrell Harris,that bureaucrats realised the errors and began to rewrite the reports the next day.
State Transit said the problem was a “software issue” that resulted in a duplication oftimetabled trips and kilometres travelled.
“In May 2016,StateTransitupgraded its scheduling software …. During this upgrade, it appears there were some issues experienced with the interface between two software systems, resulting in some trips being duplicated in this report,” a State Transit spokesman said.
In the December 2015 quarter, Newcastle busestravelled about 2.3 million kilometres. But the next quarter, in June 2016, thereport showed, the buses travelled about 3 million kilometres. By December 2016, the fleet travelled 3.6 million kilometres –a difference of about 1.3 million kilometres on the year before, which is the equivalent of roughly 170 Newcastle to Perth return trips.
The correct March 2016 report shows the bus fleet only travelled 2.1 million killometres.
And there was only one extra service –route 508 –a school bus – added to the timetable in July last year.
Mr Harris, who analyses public transport data in detail, was gobsmacked by the incorrect information.
A telling sign, Mr Harris joked, were the missing press releases from the transport minister trumpeting the 51,000 new bus services in the Newcastle area.
State Transit removed nearly a year’s worth of performance reports from its website on Thursday.