The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has called on the Baillieu Government to ensure greater transparency in transport planning for the proposed Chadstone shopping centre expansion.
PTUA outer east convenor Jeremy Lunn said public participation must be a key component of the planning process, but the government and the developer seem to be operating behind closed doors.
“Without sufficient public participation and debate, Chadstone’s expansion plans should not be approved,” said Mr Lunn. “Chadstone is a major activity centre and the public must be given a genuine say on transport issues before any proposals become official.”
Mr Lunn noted that transport plans released so far have been scant, and no effort was made to seek the community’s views when the new centralised bus interchange was considered. Further details will supposedly be revealed in a revised version of a 2003 Integrated Transport Plan for Chadstone. However, it may not be available when public submissions for the Chadstone expansion close on the 29th of February.
“The 2003 Plan did little to solve transport problems at Chadstone caused by the previous expansion,” Mr Lunn said. “The revised edition is being released too late and is unlikely to do any better.”
The PTUA wants any transport plan to consider a number of ways of coping with Chadstone’s expansion, including:
- Rail connection to Chadstone, such as extending the Alamein line to Oakleigh, via East Malvern and Chadstone;
- Tram connections, including an extension of the number 3 tram to Chadstone via East Malvern railway station;
- Dedicated bus lanes on major roads in and around Chadstone, including the Chadstone ring road, Middle Road, Princes Highway and Warrigal Road;
- Bus priority at all intersections;
- Upgrading train, tram and bus services on major routes to operate every 10 minutes, seven days-a-week, 6am to midnight. Other bus routes should operate every 20 minutes.
“A major feature of the expansion is a reduction in car parking per customer , which is justified on the basis that public transport will take up the slack,” Mr Lunn noted. “That wont happen unless public transport infrastructure and services for Chadstone are significantly improved.”
“People can’t switch from cars to public transport when weekend buses run hourly or, on some routes, are non-existent. Any new bus interchange will be ineffective without major service upgrades.”
The PTUA says the impact of car traffic on the operation of bus services to Chadstone, must be reduced, as should the effect of Chadstone traffic on the wider road network.
“Buses already face long delays getting into Chadstone on busy days,” said Mr Lunn. “The section of the 903 Smartbus route between Holmesglen, Chadstone and Oakleigh is among the slowest in Melbourne.” 
“The Baillieu Government must live up to its election commitment to improve government transparency by making a genuine effort to consult the public about overcoming transport problems at Chadstone. Pending a complete transport solution, expansion of Chadstone should not proceed.”
 The rate of car parking will be reduced per a square metre of retail space. However, there will be a net increase of 1,400 spaces in the car parking area at Chadstone.
“The centralisation of the existing bus interchanges to a single location as shown in Figure 4.1 is expected to substantially improve the overall accessibility of Chadstone Activities Area by bus by providing a high-quality interchange of a standard befitting the Shopping Centre and its visitation levels.”
– Chadstone Transport Impact Statement, page 42.
“The proposed installation of Parking Guidance Technology (PGT) throughout the Activities Area, as well as the construction of the new bus interchange, amongst other sustainable transport activities, can be expected to reduce the rate at which car parking is demanded.”
– Chadstone Transport Impact Statement, page 76 (Conclusion).
 The Smartbus Crawl, November 2010: www.ptua.org.au/2010/11/25/the-smartbus-crawl
The PTUA has a Facebook page for community discussion of transport issues at Chadstone: www.facebook.com/ChadstonePT