Policies: Extending Melbourne’s network

Melbourne already has a very extensive public transport network for a city of its size. This network is far from perfect, however, and requires some extension to provide better coverage of trip origins (people’s homes) and destinations (workplaces, shopping centres, etc.). Specific proposals are aimed at:

  • expanding the “catchment area” for public transport;
  • facilitating travel by public transport to places with high trip density (including the CBD, the Airport, and large suburban district centres); and
  • providing better coordination across modes and between separate routes, thus enhancing the “network effect”.

The network effect

Imagine an idealised situation where trips are made between points on a 10-by-10 rectangular grid. Suppose that people are equally likely to want to travel from any point to any other point on this grid.

Now suppose that public transport is provided on all north-south routes on this grid, but on none of the east-west routes. A quick calculation reveals that on average, only about 9% of trips will be in a pure north-south direction, so this public transport system (call it System A) can service at most 9% of trips.

Compare this with System B, which provides services on all east-west routes as well as all north-south routes, and allows passengers to change easily from one service to another. With only twice as many services as System A, System B can potentially cater for all trips, or more than ten times System A’s capability.

This idealised example suggests that extensions to an existing transport network, if chosen wisely, can have a disproportionate effect on patronage, due to this ‘network effect’. Of course, the more dispersed the travel demand, the more pronounced this effect will be.

Bus route reform

Bus routes must be re-organised to bring most homes within extended walking distance (500-600 metres) of a frequent, full-time route. The routes themselves should be focussed on railway stations and on major trip generators currently unreachable by rail or tram (such as Monash University and many suburban shopping centres). Most routes should also be more direct, “tram-like” routes running primarily along arterial roads rather than winding through back streets as many currently do.

Local feeder bus routes would fill the gaps in the network, ensuring that community facilities too far from the main arterial bus routes are still served.

Suburban Rail Extensions

In order to better serve passengers in new suburban growth areas, electrified suburban rail services should be extended to suburbs at the edge of the Urban Growth Boundary.

A rail line to East Doncaster via Shoppingtown, making use of the existing Eastern Freeway reservation as far as Bulleen, would fill a significant gap in Melbourne’s network and vastly improve access to Shoppingtown. Extension of the suburban network to Melbourne Airport would provide a long-overdue service to a growing number of travellers and tourists. Electrification and duplication of existing lines should include Frankston to Baxter (with future extension to Mornington) and Sunshine to Bacchus Marsh. A railway line to Rowville via a branch line from Huntingdale past Monash University, and extensions of the Epping/South Morang line to Mernda, and the Cranbourne line to Clyde (both along disused rail reservations), are also warranted.

New stations should be provided on the Craigieburn line at Patullos Lane, on the Frankston line at Southland, on the Hurstbridge line in Eltham North (Allendale Road), on the Lilydale line at Cave Hill, on the Upfield line at Camp Road, and on the Werribee line at Newport West (Maddox Road) and Derrimut Road. The Pakenham line could be rerouted through Fountain Gate, centring this important growth corridor on the rail line.

Tram extensions

The West Maribyrnong tram should be extended from its present terminus along Military Road to better serve its catchment population in Avondale Heights and East Keilor. An extension of the Vermont South tram line to Knox would better serve this population, and also reinforce Knox district centre as a public transport destination and interchange. The extension from Mont Albert to Box Hill recently completed has improved access to the Box Hill district centre, but should terminate near the station in Market Street instead of in the middle of Whitehorse Road.

Other worthwhile tram route extensions that can be expected to enhance the “network effect” include:

  • Route 48 North Balwyn to Doncaster Shoppingtown
  • Route 8 Toorak to Hartwell (serving two rail lines and the Coles headquarters)
  • Route 16 Cotham Road Kew to Kew Junction, better serving the shopping centre
  • Route 72 Camberwell to Doncaster Road and the Eastern Freeway (connecting with the proposed East Doncaster rail line) and on to Ivanhoe
  • Route 72 Gardiner to Caulfield (with trams to the city made into a separate route)
  • Route 3 East Malvern to the railway station, and on to Chadstone Shopping Centre
  • Route 5 Malvern to Darling railway station
  • Route 6 Glen Iris to Ashburton railway station
  • Route 67 Carnegie to the railway station
  • Route 112 West Preston to Reservoir
  • Park Street, South Melbourne, to St Kilda Road, to permit creation of a new east-west tram route linking Albert Park, South Melbourne and South Yarra.

For more details of proposed network extensions, please see the PTUA Five Year Plan: www.ptua.org.au/publications/fiveyearplan/

Reviewed: September 2011