Policies: Extending Melbourne’s network

Melbourne has the bones of a good public transport network, much of which was built many generations ago. With the city’s footprint substantially expanded and population much larger, this network is demonstrably inadequate for meeting the needs of today. It requires extensions to provide better coverage of trip origins (people’s homes) and destinations (workplaces, shopping centres, education 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” so essential for a high quality public transport service.

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 disproportionately positive 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 other major trip generators currently unreachable by rail or tram (such as Monash University and many suburban shopping centres). And most routes should also be direct and “tram-like” running primarily along arterial roads rather than winding through back streets as many currently do.

Principal bus network improvements should include:

  • Inner-suburban “blue orbital” Smartbus connecting Footscray, Moonee Ponds, Brunswick, Clifton Hill, Richmond, St Kilda and Elsternwick (incorporating routes 246 and 472) enabling more inner-cross-suburban trips without having to travel via the CBD
  • High-frequency connection from Broadmeadows to Melbourne Airport, supplementing existing route 901, to provide better connections from the northern suburbs to the airport precinct
  • Extend shuttle 401 to North Richmond station, enabling better connections from the South Morang/Mernda and Hurstbridge lines
  • Mornington Peninsula route 788 upgrade to at least every 30 minutes, to better connect with trains and cut waiting times on the principal public transport route on the Peninsula
  • LaTrobe University to Glenferrie station bus route to provide high-frequency bus services across the Yarra (via Chandler Highway), serving multiple universities and major activity centres such as Northland

There are circumstances where services will need to be maintained off the arterial road network, typically in suburbs where the arterial roads are very widely spaced. The layout and design of the local road network is very important in these cases, and should permit ready access by buses and direct routes.

Local feeder bus routes and community bus routes such as those used in the City of Port Phillip would complement the gaps in the public transport network, ensuring that patrons with mobility challenges can still access public transport, and that community facilities too far removed from the main arterial bus routes are still well served

Suburban Rail Extensions

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

Apart from projects already funded for construction, such as Southland Station and the extension to Mernda, also needed are:

  • Extension of the suburban network to Melbourne Airport would provide a long-overdue service to a growing number of travellers and tourists.
  • 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.
  • Electrification and duplication of existing lines should include Frankston to Baxter (with future extension to Mornington) and Sunshine to Melton and Bacchus Marsh
  • A railway line to Rowville from Huntingdale past Monash University
  • Extension of the Cranbourne line to Clyde (along a disused rail reservation)

New stations should be provided on the Craigieburn line at Patullos Lane, 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).

Tram extensions

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

  • An extension of the Vermont South 75 tram line to Knox, to better serve this area, and also reinforce Knox district centre as a public transport destination and interchange
  • The West Maribyrnong 57 tram should be extended from its present terminus along Military Road to better serve its catchment population in Avondale Heights and East Keilor.
  • Route 48 North Balwyn to Doncaster Shoppingtown
  • Route 8 Toorak to Hartwell (serving two rail lines and the Coles headquarters)
  • A new route from Caulfield along Burke Road, incorporating the Camberwell section of route 72, then north to Doncaster Road and the Eastern Freeway (connecting with the proposed East Doncaster rail line) and on to Ivanhoe
  • 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, and on to Chadstone Shopping Centre
  • Route 11 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.

PTUA policies

Reviewed: January 2016