I have been looking at the 901 SmartBus since the launch of its extended service from Ringwood to Melbourne Airport last Sunday week. lt previously ran just from Frankston to Ringwood. It runs every 15 minutes on weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends. The 901 carried about 2.5 million passengers in 2009/10 and owes its higher usage principally to relatively high weekday service frequency as well as service span (about 5 am to midnight on weekdays).
If you have not already done so I suggest you take it for at least part of its journey to get a useful insight into the potential effect on Banyule of a highly car dependent Whittlesea and Nillumbik etc. One-way trip time is about 80 minutes.
Westbound the 901 travels from Greensborough Station (when I was last there the dedicated 901 signage hadn’t been installed but it stops where the 902 does, opposite the entrance to the station) along Diamond Creek Road and Yan Yean Road (a potential traffic sewer into Banyule unless Public Transport is got right). The 901 also connects with Broadmeadows station on the Craigieburn line. So an alternative return route is by rail via the Craigieburn and Hurstbridge lines (about 70 minutes total trip time from Broadmeadows station plus connection at Flagstaff to Greensborough).
The service has been heavily promoted as a new Public Transport option to the airport. One of the major downsides of the service as currently configured is that its terminus at the airport is in the elements hundreds of metres from terminals 1, 2 and 3 (the main terminal building), and still a bit of a walk from terminal 4 (Tiger Airways). Thoroughly unsatisfactory and strongly indicative that the government has not exercised sufficient clout against the taxi/ Skybus/ airport lobby to achieve the necessary access for the 901.
I took the picture on Wednesday afternoon from near the Tiger terminal when the rain storm started. If you look really closely you will see the 901 in the distance at its terminus on the other side of Service Road. Happy travelling!