Chadstone expansion off-track without rail, trams, more buses

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has warned that expansion of the Chadstone Shopping Centre will lead to greater mayhem on roads and buses around the centre if high quality public transport is not provided.

PTUA President Daniel Bowen said that the expansion should not take place unless it was accompanied by an overhaul of public transport in the area: a railway connection, an extension of the number 3 tram route and major upgrades to bus services.

“The car parks at Chadstone are already unable to cope with the volumes of visitors, and nearby roads are regularly gridlocked”, said Mr Bowen. “If public transport services remain as they are today, it would be a disaster to upgrade the shopping centre.

“It’s bad planning practice to facilitate such large scale development away from the railway network. Without a railway connection, the expansion will only promote car dependency as the reality at Chadstone.

“A railway line to Chadstone could be achieved by extending the Alamein line to Oakleigh, via East Malvern and Chadstone. It would help alleviate traffic chaos around Chadstone, complete a missing link in Melbourne’s rail network and provide extra capacity.” [1]

Mr Bowen said it would improve access to Chadstone from suburbs along the Belgrave, Lilydale, Alamein, Glen Waverley, Pakenham and Cranbourne lines, along with the proposed line to Rowville. It would also enhance access to Monash University, Swinburne University, Holmesglen TAFE and employment opportunities across the east and southeastern suburbs.

“If Chadstone want to create an ‘international experience’ for shoppers, then transport to the centre needs to match international best practice. At the moment, transport to Chadstone can only be described as a nightmare.

“The buses at Chadstone are not coping – they are either hopelessly infrequent or packed to bursting, particularly on weekends, while motorists also face lengthy delays just to exit the car park.

“The mess we’re in today is the result of substantial development at Chadstone over the years without providing effective public transport. This shows that a transport solution such as rail needs to be part of any further expansion plan.”

Along with a railway line, an extensive upgrade will be required for buses serving Chadstone. Mr Bowen said that bus users currently face significant delays, and immediate action needs to be taken, dedicated priority lanes needed on all access roads.

Mr Bowen said the current plans show a major new road interchange at Princes Highway, including two 5-6 lane roads, indicating that Chadstone is looking to increase the level of car traffic into the centre – but there is no indication of bus lanes.[2]

“The level of bus services will also need a significant upgrade. Current services are mostly appalling. Most buses on weekends operate only hourly, and those that run more often are overcrowded. Is it any wonder that most people drive?” [3]

The PTUA is calling for major bus routes to Chadstone to operate every 10 minutes, seven days-a-week. Other routes should be upgraded to operate at least every 20 minutes. Extension of the number 3 tram from its present terminus in East Malvern would provide an efficient link for people coming to Chadstone from the inner suburbs, complementing bus and train services.

“It would be irresponsible for the local council and the State Government to sign off on this development without a major shakeup to transport arrangements. Consolidating the bus interchange is not sufficient. The expansion should not go ahead without a rail connection, tram extension and a major upgrade to bus services”, Mr Bowen concluded.

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[1] What is now the Alamein line ran to Oakleigh between 1890 and 1895 as part of the Outer Circle railway line. Much of original reservation remains as a linear park. Some proposals have suggested an Alamein via Chadstone to Oakleigh rail line be integrated into the proposed Huntingdale to Rowville rail line.

[2] See picture below, or for full papers, see the City of Stonnington web site

Chadstone plan: Note planned new bus interchange

[3] 14 bus routes currently serve Chadstone. Summary of weekend bus frequencies:

612 Saturday: hourly, Sunday: no service
623 Saturday and Sunday: hourly
624 Saturday and Sunday: hourly
625 Saturday and Sunday: hourly
626 Saturday and Sunday: hourly
742 Saturday: every 30-60 minutes, Sunday: hourly
767 Saturday: every 30-40 minutes, Sunday: 40 minutes
800 Saturday: every 60-120 minutes, Sunday: no service
802 No weekend service
804 Saturday: every 60-120 minutes, Sunday: no service
822 Saturday: every 40-60 minutes, Sunday: hourly
862 Saturday and Sunday: hourly
900 Saturday and Sunday: every 30 minutes
903 Saturday: 15-30 minutes, Sunday: every 30 minutes