The Draft Geelong Transport Strategy (DGTS) is deeply flawed. Despite the City of Greater Geelong having set itself commendable goals to increase public transport use and decrease car use, the transport strategy proposes a ‘more of the same’ approach to transport planning. This has led to Geelong’s current situation: the average resident only makes a return trip on a bus less than once every month.
- 1 1. THE PROCESS
- 2 1.2 Community consultation?
- 3 2. THE APPROACH
- 4 3. PLANS FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT SERVICES
- 4.1 3.1 Ineffectual targets for service levels
- 4.2 3.2 Inadequate improvement of bus frequency
- 4.3 3.3 No extension of hours of operation
- 4.4 3.4 No clear targets for connection to rail services
- 4.5 3.5 No route restructuring: A wasted opportunity
- 4.6 3.6 No discussion of improvement to rail services
- 4.7 3.7 No mention of hours of operation for trains
- 4.8 3.8 Fast train projects are almost ignored
- 4.9 3.9 Why ‘Park and Ride’ isn’t a solution
- 5 4. BUILDING MORE FREEWAYS AND CARPARKS
- 6 5. THE ACTION PLAN
- 7 6. OUR CONCLUSION
- 8 7. OUR VISION
1. THE PROCESS
1.1 Who did the work?
Dominated by road engineers; No expertise in successful public transport
The study was carried out by road engineering consultants Maunsell Macintyre, with assistance from the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB, p. 3 DGTS). The steering committee involved a road engineer from the Department of Infrastructure and another road engineer from VicRoads. The study team also involved three other VicRoads personnel. The prominence given to roads is evident: cyclists and pedestrians, who are key users of public transport, are given only 3 pages out of a 129 page report!
The strategy has been dominated by road engineers and featured no input from experts in environmentally sustainable transport, or in the efficient operation of public transport.
Norm Marshall from the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) was the only person was the only person consistently involved in the strategy with any real involvement in public transport. However, the DoI (and the former Department of Transport) have presided over large falls in public transport patronage both in Geelong and elsewhere in Victoria. The section of the DoI that is responsible for the entire country bus network, is severely under-resourced and just ‘maintains’ the existing services.
1.2 Community consultation?
Lack of real public involvement
The only strategy workshop on ‘Public and Community Transport’ was held on Monday 20 September during business hours. This made it difficult for working people to get to the workshop. The Geelong Branch of the PTUA has also been contacted by several concerned people who wanted to be involved but were unable to attend, and others who where either unaware of the workshop or could not get in contact with the consultants.
Only six of the twenty-eight people who attended the Public and Community Transport workshop werenot from industry groups or government authorities. Of those six people, only two people were “community representatives,” (average citizens.)
There were no community representatives at the fourth and final workshop, which was meant to bring all elements of the strategy together. In fact, none of those six who were present at the Public and Community Transport workshop attended. The fourth workshop was again held during business hours on Friday 19 November 1999.
The draft strategy was then refined in offices by city bureaucrats and consultants without further consultation, until the strategy was released almost an entire year later in November 2000.
2. THE APPROACH
2.1 Priority for public transport?
Road spending far outweighs investment in public transport
One of the recurring features of the strategy is that public transport measures are listed first, then road measures, creating the impression that the road measures are less important. In fact, the opposite is the case. The proposed road package is worth over a billion dollars in addition to committed projects. The road proposals include the Princes Freeway widening (committed project), support for the Western Bypass Freeway ($500 m), plus consideration of the Eastern Bypass/ Bay Bridge ($600 m) and numerous other arterial road improvements ($100 m).
By contrast, the public transport measures proposed are the rail upgrade (committed project), a bus interchange at Geelong Station (committed project), a new station on the existing railway line at Grovedale and better bus shelters. While these are all good measures, the total cost of the new public transport measures is perhaps one percent of the proposed road expenditure!
A telling indication of the role envisioned for public transport, is that despite identifying the major employment areas elsewhere in the report, the transport strategy does not show these as important areas to service in Figure 5.1 (Existing Public Transport Networks.) For example, the Heales road industrial estate in Lara is most obviously lacking public transport connection.
However, Figure 5.1 does show hospitals, schools and recreation facilities. It would seem that public transport is meant only for students and the elderly, and not for working people.
2.2 Ecologically sustainable development?
The transport strategy goes against ESD principles by encouraging motor vehicle use
The Geelong community committed itself to “reduce reliance on the motor vehicle through promoting greater use of … public transport,” in the City of Greater Geelong Environmental Strategy 1999. This panel was presided over by the now Mayor Cr Michael Crutchfield. Indeed, 85.9% of respondents to the strategy questionnaire said that the provision of public transport facilities were either important or very important to them.
However, instead of reducing the use of cars, the draft Transport Strategy will actuallyincrease motor vehicle usage. Its plans to vastly upgrade the road network with over $1 billion of expensive new freeways and roads will only increase car dependence and further undermine the competitiveness of public transport.
The Transport Strategy contains no strategy to reduce the need for car travel, or to shift trips from the car to walking, cycling and public transport.
The City of Greater Geelong’s Municipal Strategic Statement supports “applying travel demand management principles to improve the utilisation of existing transport assets and the provision of new transport infrastructure” (DGTS, p. 40). The idea behind travel demand management principles is to reduce people’s need to travel as far or as often (by car), as they go about their daily business.
But the Geelong Transport Strategy contains no general travel demand management strategy.
It reduces this aim to develop a travel demand strategy only for the CoGG (DGTS p. 60), planning to set an example with the City’s use of the train, of telecommuting and car pooling. Despite the COGG being one of the city’s largest employers, it makes no mention of encouraging its employees to catch public transport within Geelong.
2.3 An ‘ambitious’ target for public transport?
The strategy sets very low benchmarks for public transport patronage
The DGTS indicates that residents of Geelong make, on average, 23 trips by public transport per annum (p. 54). This is equivalent to the average resident making less than one return trip per month.
What’s more, many Geelong residents have never caught a bus in Geelong- even the low figure of 23 trips per year is largely made up from people who have no choice but to catch buses. According to the RACV study,Transport and Mobility in Rural Victoria (June 2000), only 24% of Barwon region residents had used a bus at all in the last 12 months. Many Geelong residents wouldn’t have caught a bus for years. Geelong needs to compare its performance to world standards; this should be imperative for a city that wants to be globally competitive.
|City||Urban population||Bus trips per resident per year|
|Wellington (New Zealand)||320,000||80|
23 trips by public transport per annum is one of the lowest rates in the world. It is less than half the figure for Los Angeles and much lower than the rate in comparable-sized cities with more effective public transport. For example, in 1990 the comparable figure was 89 trips in Canberra, 80 in Wellington (New Zealand) and 257 – more than ten times the Geelong rate – in the Swiss town of Schaffhausen (pop. 44,000). But the report conceals this fact by comparing Geelong with other cities that also have poor public transport, such as Ballarat and Wollongong.
The DGTS suggests an ambitious-sounding target of increasing Geelong ridership to 40 trips per capita by 2010 (p. 59). But the target only sounds ambitious because the report omits to give meaningful comparative data, such as the fact that this would still be less than half Canberra’s performance! An increase to 40 trips per person per year proposed in the strategy would make no noticeable difference to car use. That means less than two return trips per person permonth. Public transport will never replace cars- but how many car trips do you make every day?
3. PLANS FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT SERVICES
3.1 Ineffectual targets for service levels
Changes proposed by the Strategy won’t achieve any significant patronage increase
The RACV study (mentioned above) revealed that 72% of people from our region thought that our public transport needed improvement or was not adequate and needed immediate attention.
There is no mystery about what is required to significantly improve public transport usage, even in smaller cities: direct, easy-to-understand routes; frequent services day and evening, weekday and weekend (in Schaffhausen, the maximum time between buses is 10 minutes); simple, reasonably-priced fares; full timetable co-ordination between different modes of public transport and excellent, well-located interchange facilities. It also helps if public transport is not undermined by spending billions on new freeways.
The DGTS pays lip-service to some of these ideas, but demonstrates that it doesn’t understand them at all.
3.2 Inadequate improvement of bus frequency
Urban buses should run at least every 15 minutes all day; Bellarine Transit buses at least every 30 minutes
Frequency is one of the most crucial aspects of a successful public transport system. Few people will wait 40 minutes for a bus, to do a trip that takes 10 minutes by car.
However, this is the standard that the Transport Strategy sets for buses during off-peak times. It suggests that bus headways (the time between buses) on only the busiest routes in off-peak periods should be maximum 40 minutes (p. 59). Since trains run every hour at these times, such a headway would make timetable co-ordination impossible! In addition, this would actually be a reduction of service on the best routes (e.g. Thompson Road), which operate every 30 minutes at some of these times.
Even the 20 minute frequency proposed for peak hour isn’t an ambitious target. Some buses on sections of the Melbourne road route already run 5,10 or 15 minutes apart. We should be aiming at least for Melbourne tram style frequency on all routes of 15 minutes or less.
3.3 No extension of hours of operation
Buses should run late into the evening, and later on Friday and Saturday nights
The transport strategy acknowledges (p 55) that “requests for more late night and weekend bus services have been made for people to go shopping and to attend entertainment venues and cinemas during the evening,” but it makes no suggestions on extending buses’ hours of operation.
Buses should run right into the evening, instead of stopping at times as early as 6:10 pm- which is when the last service to Newtown leaves from the city from Monday to Thursday. Most Melbourne tram services run until at least midnight- services in Geelong should run at least until 11pm, and perhaps later on Friday and Saturday nights. Better public transport would enliven Geelong’s restaurants and nightlife and give people an alternative to taking taxis or drink driving.
3.4 No clear targets for connection to rail services
Every train should connect with buses
The transport strategy sets no clear targets for bus connections to trains. A Public Transport Coordination Group (without involving community consultation) has been set up only to “coordinate public transport changes in Geelong.” No clear purpose is outlined.
Yet there are currently many commuters, who on returning to Geelong in the evening, can’t catch connecting buses home, even from peak hour rail services. On page 65 of the Strategy, when proposing (for the long term) an integrated rail/bus ticket to Melbourne, the strategy states that “with such a ticket, it would be essential for buses to meet with the trains.” Buses should always be timed so that a service meets every train, no matter what the ticketing arrangements!
3.5 No route restructuring: A wasted opportunity
Bus routes need an overhaul
No major route restructuring is investigated, despite the Figure 5.2 showing that existing bus routes don’t adequately cover some areas of Geelong. The strategy simply states that routes should be extended. However, some routes have already been extended far beyond their original scope and should undergo a complete review. The strategy also has no plans to investigate non-radial public transport routes (routes not running to and from the city centre). Just a glance at a map of Geelong’s bus routes shows the need for a complete overhaul of our bus system.
Some sections of the routes shown on these maps only run occasionally, and so falsely give the impression that the area is well served by public transport. There doesn’t appear to be any detailed discussion of the role that buses should play in taking people to and from the proposed Grovedale station. Yet this sort of investigation should play a vital part in the decision about the exact location of the station.
Instead, fairly vague “transitway corridors” are shown. While these are important ‘spines’ of the transport system that should be protected and developed, they need good quality bus services feeding into them. Otherwise they are of limited use for areas that are not immediately adjacent to them. Bus services still have to be provided closer to people’s homes.
3.6 No discussion of improvement to rail services
Failure to mention the importance of rail service frequency
No mention of train frequency is made at all in the report. Fast train services to Melbourne are of no good if passengers can still drive to Melbourne in the time that they spend waiting for a train- or drive thereand back again in the two hours between some Sunday services. Considering that trains have been running on a base of hourly services on most days for decades, it should be time to move to services running at least every half hour.
Interestingly, when discussing the council’s “travel demand management initiatives” on page 61, the Strategy says council employees could take the train on trips to Melbourne. However, it limits this to training workshops or other situations where they could be “reasonably confident of catching the train at a specific time.” While the sentence isn’t very clear, it suggests that if the council employees don’t know when they are likely to finish their business in Melbourne, they can’t be confident of being able to catch a train back to Geelong without having to wait too long a time.
We agree that an hour is far too long to wait in Melbourne for a train to Geelong in the middle of the day, considering that suburban line trains often run at a frequency of twenty minutes. Just as the strategy promotes better bus services, it should also aim for better rail services. Or does the strategy assume one standard for council employees and another for members of the general public?
3.7 No mention of hours of operation for trains
Existing evening train services are inadequate, given the importance of the link to Melbourne
The last service to Melbourne from Geelong leaves the Geelong Railway Station at 9:15 pm and 8:25 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. There is no real opportunity for tourists to dine or see shows in Geelong before returning to Melbourne. As such, visitors to Geelong are under a curfew. Yet the transport strategy makes no mention of extending hours of operation.
3.8 Fast train projects are almost ignored
No policy is expressed on these crucial projects
The strategy should provide a good opportunity for the city to comment on the fast train projects, which have not yet been finalised. However, the only comment seems to be that “a third track” may be necessary in areas of suburban Melbourne, to stop interference between suburban services and those to Geelong.
The Geelong branch of the PTUA believes it is most important to achieve 45 minute target trip from Geelong Station to Spencer St while also stopping at important stations along the way, not just at North Geelong and North Melbourne as proposed under the projects. Trains should also stop regularly at stations such as Corio, Lara, Werribee and perhaps Footscray.
The third track may not be necessary; perhaps better signalling or stricter running of trains may solve such problems. This may be able to be achieved through the use of new locomotives with upgraded existing carriages; but it is disappointing that the Strategy has not explored these issues with reference to any expertise, on such a crucial project.
Similarly, identifying the stations at which trains are to stop, and the number of services which are to stop there, are crucial decisions to be made when choosing the best places for bus/rail interchanges. This needs to be done so that the connecting bus routes can be mapped out. We would suggest, for example, that Corio railway station should be used as a bus/rail interchange for Geelong’s northern suburbs, with bus routes connecting from Corio Village.
3.9 Why ‘Park and Ride’ isn’t a solution
Much of the environmental benefit from catching public transport is lost
Bureaucrats have often promoted parking cars and riding public transport for the remainder of journeys. But it’s no real solution.
For trips within Geelong, most of the environmental benefits and reduced congestion that result from catching public transport are lost, because passengers have already driven most of the way into the city.
Passengers without cars still need local bus services
Park and ride means that instead of catching the bus from a local bus stop, park-and-riders drive to a major car park and catch public transport from there. This doesn’t eliminate the need for local buses, because people without cars still need to be served from their local bus stop. It doesn’t solve traffic congestion, as traffic bottlenecks form around the car parks.
Park and ride becomes a way of making up for a ‘lack’ of car parking spaces in the city, rather than allowing people to leave their cars at home. (See DGTS p. 63,Park and Ride on the Fringe Areas of Geelong.) It should also be asked how many motorists would bother stopping at ‘Belmont Island’ to catch public transport for the last leg of their trip, when they have already driven most of the way.
Motorists should be encouraged to switch to public transport at the earliest opportunity
There is a role for park and ride for rural residents, however they should be encouraged to switch to public transport at the earliest opportunity (eg where bus services begin,) rather than drive most of the way into Geelong and catch a bus for the last couple of hundred metres. Other commuters may occasionally need the option to ‘park and ride,’ and car parks have already been provided for these people, particularly at railway stations. However, ‘Park and Ride’ is too often encouraged over better alternatives such as catching public transport for the entire journey.
There are enough car parks at railway stations- we don’t need to build any more. Despite recent expansion of the South Geelong station car park, it is now at capacity. At Geelong Station, the car park is also full. Any future increase in patronage should come through passengers taking buses to the railway station, which also helps to increase bus patronage and reduce the cost of providing services. In places like South Geelong we have taken ‘Park and Ride’ as far as it can go without severely degrading the urban landscape.
4. BUILDING MORE FREEWAYS AND CARPARKS
Freeways and carparks affect public transport. They often encourage development that can be difficult to serve by public transport. In addition, when more people that are encouraged to drive, less people will catch public transport. This can mean that service levels are cut even further.
The strategy fails to consider public transport as an alternative to building more car parks
We shouldn’t need any more expensive and ugly car parks in Geelong. We should leave our historic buildings and open space alone, and encourage more shoppers, workers and visitors to come to the city by public transport.
The transport strategy identifies a lack of parking in the south east of the Central Activities Area (CAA,) near the Geelong Hospital. The Geelong Hospital is a major employer in the region; it is also a major destination for visitors. The concerns are that while off-street car parks exist in the area, most are designated for hospital staff only and so visitors very few close, off-street car parks.
Yet the strategy does not ask why more people don’t catch public transport to this major institution in the centre of Geelong. The Geelong Hospital should be connected to the public transport network by excellent links, given its position on the main east-west thoroughfare of Geelong. Better transport links should be provided to both staff and visitors, which would eliminate the need for more car parking, while some staff car parking could be freed for visitors who may need to drive.
Similar questions need to be asked about the car parking proposals for Deakin University’s Waterfront Campus. An educational institution such as a university should have excellent public transport links, just like the University of Melbourne.
4.2 Freeways: The Geelong Bypasses
The Strategy fails to consider public transport as a way to reduce congestion on existing roads
Taxpayers will spend $250 million on the widening of the Princes Freeway to Melbourne. Now it’s apparently necessary to spend more than $400-600 million on an entirely new road to bypass Geelong. This is an enormous sum of money to spend, when we don’t even have the fundamentals of a much cheaper public transport system in place.
4.3 What about freight?
Cars are the real cause of congestion
Much of the freight coming through Latrobe Terrace is going to places within Geelong, or to our port. Other freight would get through Geelong quite easily, if Latrobe Terrace weren’t so congested by Geelong residents making car trips that they should often be able to do on public transport. However, we don’t yet have even the fundamentals of good public transport in place- we haven’t given public transport a chance to see what difference it could make.
Only ten years ago, millions of dollars were spent on the James Harrison bridge and bypass through Geelong to ‘solve’ traffic congestion. It has quickly become congested thanks to residential traffic from the newly developed estates in Highton, Waurn Ponds, Grovedale and Torquay. Building another road is no long term solution.
Bypasses funnel more cars into seaside towns
As for tourists, building a bypass would then put pressure on roads to resorts to be widened. People don’t come to the Surf Coast or the Bellarine Peninsula to see freeways or major new roads; the character preserved from development in our seaside towns is an attraction in itself. If those roads were built, it would put even more pressure on seaside towns’ local roads and car parks. The only ‘solution’ would be to provide expensive ‘seasonal’ infrastructure for cars that would not be used for most of the year.
One way to moderate traffic in seaside towns is to introduce better public transport. Trends show that holiday-makers are opting for shorter holidays, and good public transport would be ideal for these situations. Backpackers and overseas tourists make up another increasing market that places high value on good public transport links.
4.5 New Residents?
Encouraging car-based commuters
The Geelong bypasses either to the east or the west are particularly worrying from an environmental point of view.
While the transport strategy seems to give preference to the western ring road, it gives the impression that both it and the eastern ring road over Corio Bay could be built. The advocates of both roads justify them as helping freight and tourists to get past Geelong. However, we need to face facts that most of the traffic that would use the road, would be residents of Geelong travelling to and from Melbourne.
Indeed, the push for the Eastern Bypass has been largely justified as ‘opening up’ the Bellarine Peninsula for residential development; ie so that it could become a suburban dormitory from which workers could drive to work in Melbourne. Encouraging more cars to drive up the road to Melbourne by building either bypass, is the complete opposite of the “environmentally sustainable development” that the Geelong Transport Study champions. Extra cars would also add to the congestion that can be seen every morning on the Westgate Bridge and freeway.
The route across the bay proposed for the Eastern Bypass would shortcut past the existing public transport infrastructure (the rail line to Melbourne) and encourage further car dependence on the Peninsula. The state or federal governments couldn’t justify the building of either several hundred million dollar road just for the convenience of the existing residents of the Bellarine Peninsula. It would be likely that suburban development, which Bellarine Peninsula residents have so strongly rejected in past consultation, would occur.
We need to be realistic. Governments have spent enough money on Geelong’s major roads and freeways. Every new road just shifts traffic congestion to a new place. It’s about time we found a real solution to traffic congestion through public transport. With that same $600 million we could have a first-class public transport network and still have plenty left over to fund hospitals and schools, and even repair the local roads.
5. THE ACTION PLAN
5.1 Inadequate Strategy Actions
No mention of service levels in ‘short term’ actions
- While for roads it suggests “supporting the construction of a western bypass” p124, there is no discussion in the public transport section of ‘supporting’ more frequent bus services. Yet both of these options would require political decisions and money from the state government.
- Though the strategy says the Public Transport Coordination Group (PTCG) is to be “established and fostered,” (p123), there is no clear outline of the crucial aim, which should be getting buses to connect with trains.
Many of the identified ‘longer term’ actions should be done in the short term
It is disappointing that simple actions like improving bus stops lack priority over other measures (p 126 DGTS).
- Bus timetables (or the times at which buses depart from stops) need to be provided at every stop, just like at tram stops in Melbourne. It’s a simple, cost-effective measure of getting information to people who want to catch a bus.
- Developing integrated public transport information is essential to make public transport more user friendly, to make it easier to transfer between different services. (p 126 DGTS.) It could start by simply making a map, or including better information about rail connections on existing bus timetables (and vice versa.)
- Protecting land for intermodal interchanges should be done now, just as the western bypass reservation has existed since the 1960’s, to preserve future transport options. It seems strange to protect land in the short term for “future transitway corridors” (p 123 DGTS) whilst not protecting land for their future intermodal interchanges. (p 126 DGTS)
6. OUR CONCLUSION
6.1 Some sensible ideas, but no strategy
The report does contain some worthwhile ideas. Most importantly, it recognises:
- the importance of service frequency; and
- the need to set patronage targets.
A s well as the need to:
- better provide and simplify public transport information
- promote and market the system, both generally and in transport packages. This is particularly important to encourage people to think about improved public transport as an option.
- replace inadequate (poorly lit and opaque) bus shelters; and
- improve bus access to new subdivisions. (Buses should run along sufficiently wide, direct arterial roads which have good pedestrian linkages to side streets.)
- better serve the ageing population of Geelong, which will need vastly improved public transport,
- improve disabled access,
- reduce Bellarine Transit’s high and inequitable fares
The most sensible proposal in the report is that Geelong station should become the main interchange point for the bus system, rather than the Busport (p. 62 DGTS).
Unfortunately, this is followed immediately by a bad idea, namely large car parks on the fringe of the Geelong CBD (note that these are included as public transport measures!) (p. 63 DGTS).
Other bad ideas include:
- Implementing a “demand responsive services arrangement” using buses and taxis, which is proposed for parts of the Bellarine Peninsula (p 61 DGTS.) This may be suitable for community transport (ie for elderly with mobility problems,) however as mainstream public transport it is likely to be either extremely expensive or slow and inconvenient. The PTUA knows of no example of any such successful operation; and none is given by the report.
- Setting up a Public Transport Coordination Group (PTCG) to look at “changes” to public transport, without involving any community consultation.
The PTUA would also caution on any major expenditure on ‘real time’ information provision. This can be a waste of money (Smartbus p 60), which would be better spent on increasing service frequency.
6.2 A change of approach is needed
The Draft Geelong Transport Strategy is deeply flawed
However, the worst part of the strategy is its overall approach to the transport question. The most striking deficiencies of the report include:
- A strategy dominated by roads and road engineering projects, without proper community involvement.
- A lack of focus on making the use of public transport more mainstream; and therefore a failure to meet Geelong’s environmentally sustainable development (ESD) responsibilities.
- A failure to consider public transport as a way to alleviate car parking problems or traffic congestion on existing roads.
- A lack of detail about public transport measures: eg. no review of bus routes.
- A setting of very low targets for bus frequency and bus patronage improvements.
- A strong over-reliance on Park and Ride schemes to get passengers onto public transport.
- No comment on Geelong’s share of the crucial ‘fast train’ project.
- No plans to urge or work towards improvements to Geelong’s rail services.
There is no overall strategy to encourage people to shift from cars to public transport.
7. OUR VISION
7.1 Where to from here?
The GTS draft report is a good example of what happens when transport planning decisions are made without informed public input and genuine expertise on sustainable transport planning. Unfortunately, Geelong has seen this kind of planning before, in the sorry saga of the busport.
The City of Greater Geelong has shown a commendable concern for integrated transport planning, environmental sustainability and improved public transport. Unfortunately, it has asked the wrong people for advice on how to go about achieving these worthwhile aims.
It’s time for a new approach to transport planning, based on ‘best practice’ in cities with first-rate transport, not on more of the same approach that has got us into the current mess. This would involve a community-driven process employing real experts on sustainable transport planning to help the citizens of the Geelong region decide on a transport future. The PTUA stands ready to assist in such a process, and the Federal government might even be prepared to fund the process under its new regional development initiatives program.
7.2 Our Recommendations:
Recommendation 1- Employ a consultant with experience in a successful public transport system, to develop an alternative public transport strategy.
This would have to be combined with consultation with operators, state and local governments, and should involve informed community input. More than the token public consultation that we have seen in this study is needed.
- first-rate local public transport network integrated with upgraded trains
- fiscally responsible outcome
- better value for existing (significant) public subsidy
What to avoid:
- top-down planning by ‘the usual suspects’ (i.e. a repeat of the Busport saga)
Proposal – an outcomes-focussed task force:
- mandate from State and local government
- task force to have own budget (est. $50-100,000) and secretariat
- 12-month time-frame
- small membership to retain focus, but wide and open public consultation
- One or more local State MPs (to chair)
- City of Greater Geelong (preferably a councillor, not an officer.)
- Bus operators (arranged through Bus Association of Victoria.)
- Public Transport Users Association (PTUA)
- Broad consultation on needs (with help from CGG and/or consultants)
- Preparation and costing of ‘best practice’ proposal
- by internationally recognised experts in public transport planning
- based on ‘best practice’ in other comparable-sized cities
- consultation on proposal
- final concept plan with financial analysis
- simple improvements (e.g. timetable co-ordination) to proceed in the meantime.
Recommendation 2- A possible model for Geelong’s public transport system
While the process that we have described would best reach targets for the improvement of public transport, we would suggest that the following targets are realistic goals to work towards:
2.1 Urban Geelong bus routes should offer service at a similar level to Melbourne trams Higher frequency urban Geelong bus services running at least every 15 minutes all day, every day. Services running late into the evening. Later on Friday and Saturday nights.
2.2 Buses at least every 30 minutes to major townships such as Ocean Grove / Barwon Heads, Queenscliff / Point Lonsdale, Drysdale / Clifton Springs and Torquay / Jan Juc.
2.3 Buses that connect to almost every train: waiting for trains to arrive to pick up passengers, and bringing passengers to stations for departing trains. Identification of the best stations for bus/rail interchanges, such as Grovedale, Geelong, North Geelong, Corio and Lara, by transport planners in consultation with the community, bus operators, rail operators and the DoI.
2.4 A truly integrated bus network, allowing people to change buses and make more than just radial trips (to and from Geelong city.) Cross-city and cross-Bellarine Peninsula bus services should be provided.
2.5 Trains to Melbourne running at least every 30 minutes all day, every day. Evening trains should run until midnight, and later on Friday and Saturday nights.
2.6 More convenient and more directly-routed bus routes, to encourage people to catch them. Planned by public transport planners in consultation with the community and private operators.
2.7 The return of rail services between Geelong and Ballarat, to better service towns such as Bannockburn and Meredith.
2.8 The future re-opening of the Geelong-Queenscliff rail line, as least as far as Drysdale, as an environmentally friendly alternative to a Corio Bay bridge.
2.9 Provision of timetable information at bus stops, timetables freely available at shops. Promotion of new bus services to raise community awareness; marketing of travel packages.
Recommendation 3- Withdraw support from Geelong Bypasses
- Withdraw support from either the eastern or western Geelong bypass, (at least) while public transport alternatives are developed.