PTUA joins push to speed up trams

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is cautiously throwing its weight behind a Yarra Trams campaign to promote greater traffic priority for trams and buses.

Independent Melbourne Partners Against Congested Transport (IMPACT) is an industry coalition formed to oversee implementation of tram and bus priority measures in the government’s Keeping Melbourne Moving strategy. Members of the group include Yarra Trams, the Bus Association of Victoria, RACV, Victorian Taxi Association, Victorian Transport Association and Bicycle Victoria.

The PTUA is hopeful that its membership of IMPACT will help focus the group’s efforts on priority measures that are provably effective. “We’re hopeful that this group won’t simply be pushing clearways,” PTUA President Daniel Bowen explained. “Some of the biggest delays to trams actually occur in places where they’re already separated from cars, and are due to traffic lights. The congestion strategy includes measures to allow trams to change signals to speed them through intersections, and with so many of the major players in this group, there’s a good chance that with our participation we can finally get some action on traffic light priority.”

A study undertaken last year by PTUA Secretary and engineer Tony Morton found that while traffic congestion added around 10% to travel times on one tram route, red lights added up to 50%. In many European cities, this wasted time is minimised by allowing trams to trigger a short green phase at signals. This allows trams through intersections quickly without significantly delaying cross traffic or pedestrians.

“Even though it’s obvious that this ‘dynamic priority’ would be the most effective way to speed up trams, up to now we’ve found it very hard to get it on the agenda,” Mr Bowen said. “There’s this view that traffic lights are only ever supposed to work for the benefit of cars. But while we’ve got the opportunity, we’ll be working with IMPACT to build support for these kinds of measures, which might well be easier and more effective to implement than things like clearways that have got all the limelight to this point.”

Solutions to Melbourne’s congestion… The vision is clear

Joint media release: Yarra Trams, PTUA, RACV, Bus Association Victoria, Victorian Taxi Association, Bicycle Victoria and Victorian Transport Association.

Independent Melbourne Partners Against Congested Transport (IMPACT) is a new alliance aimed at reducing congestion on our roads.

The founding members of IMPACT are Yarra Trams, Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), RACV, Bus Association Victoria, Victorian Taxi Association, Bicycle Victoria and Victorian Transport Association.

More than 80 per cent of public transport services are road-based and IMPACT believes the package of initiatives in the Keeping Melbourne Moving plan will make a difference to thousands of commuters.

“Melbourne has the biggest tram network in the world, but it is one of the slowest,” said Yarra Trams Chief Executive Officer, Dennis Cliche.

“Thousands of tram users will benefit from the tram priority initiatives of the Keeping Melbourne Moving package which also includes standardised clearway operating hours along major tram routes,” said Mr Cliche.

“It is paramount that we do everything possible to minimise congestion if we are to maintain Melbourne’s liveability,” said Mr Cliche.

“We are pleased to see recognition of the need for active measures to improve the running times of trams and buses where currently they get delayed by traffic,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. “We look forward to working cooperatively within IMPACT to improve services for public transport passengers,” said Mr Bowen.

“The plan will improve public transport services and relieve traffic congestion by improving traffic flows and giving greater priority to public transport. It will focus on the most heavily congested routes,” said RACV General Manager Public Policy, Brian Negus.

“Initiatives such as the standardisation of clearway times would ensure that the entire road network runs smoothly, rather than having pockets of congestion,” said Mr Negus.

The peak bus and coach industry body, Bus Association Victoria backs the campaign for on road bus priority.

“We expect significant time savings with the Keeping Melbourne Moving initiatives and this will mean we can provide more services with the same number of buses,” said Bus Association Victoria Director Industry Development, Russell Coffey.

“More people on quicker, more reliable buses will mean fewer cars on the road,” said Mr Coffey.

The transport and logistics industry says reducing congestion will mean big savings in costs to its customers throughout Melbourne. “These savings are passed on to all consumers,” said Victorian Transport Association Chief Executive Officer, Philip Lovel.

“We will also save fuel and emissions. It could be up to 30% which is a massive saving and that could mean $50m to $100m a year,” said Mr Lovel.

The taxi industry also supports the initiatives to relieve peak period congestion.

“The plan will improve the delivery of taxi services through greater productivity of taxi vehicles, and will assist the environment through reduced vehicle emissions,” said Victorian Taxi Association Executive Officer Policy, David Samuel.

Bicycle Victoria says Keeping Melbourne Moving will deliver much needed benefits to bike riders as well as public transport users.

“We know that many bike commuters are also regular public transport users, so better services by trams, buses and taxis will be welcome”, said Bicycle Victoria CEO, Harry Barber.

“It is important that the road system is developed in a balanced way that recognises bike riders, public transport users and vital road-based services,” Mr Barber said.