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Is it time to rethink on-street parking on tram routes in the City of Yarra?

Is it time to rethink on-street parking on tram routes in the City of Yarra?
Is it time to rethink on-street parking on tram routes in the City of Yarra?

Mark's Friday article on the commercial development pipeline for the City of Yarra is both impressive and worrying.  Impressive because 300,000 square metres of space, should it all be built and occupied, would represent around 20,000 new jobs contained within the municipality and worrying thanks to a lack of public transport priority, especially along the streets with tram routes.

Throw in the residential development pipeline - half of which is under construction and likely provide new homes for approximately 7000-8000 people - you have to wonder what the breaking point will be.

As Urban.com.au user johnproctor commented on Friday, the 20,000 new employees/jobs figure comes from assuming that 1 employee takes up 15 square metres of total commercial space,

Pretty amazing. that's roughly 20,000 workers coming to City of Yarra if it's all realised.

Will hopefully drive counter peak tram movements in the area (that are already quite strong) and should also drive high capacity on the 246 bus route linking people from the north to bigger office precinct south (Hurstbridge/Doncaster/Mernda PT users to Cremorne) and south to north (Richmond PT users to Collingwood/Abbotsford)

The increased patronage and movements on the tram network are the most worrying because Victoria Street, for instance, does not have counter-peak clearways. 

At the city end there is a good quality interchange (where the emphasis is on frequency of multiple services) at Parliament station and the Macarthur Street tram stop. 

At St. Vincent's interchange and right down to Hoddle Street there is minimal priority given to trams at cross roads - especially at Hoddle Street but the worst part of the journey is beyond North Richmond Station to Victoria Gardens.

I've timed it multiple times, in both directions and at the extreme end, it's possible the journey between Victoria Gardens and Parliament station will take 20 minutes. That's a 2 kilometre trip - jogging pace.

And while I deserve a slap over the wrist for being in a car at the time of taking that image above - I was the traffic - quite often I'm not and I'm one of the people travelling on one of those trams you can see attempting to crawl down Victoria Street.  In the evening peak clearways are in operation heading out of the city but the road is choked with parked cars in the counter-peak direction.

Victoria Street is only one of the major tram routes through Yarra and as Mark's article points out, the commercial development is occurring in Cremorne, Collingwood/Fitzroy - even on Hoddle Street - but what transport policies are in place to give public transport more priority in the area?

Yarra is served by the rail network from all major directions but trams and buses fighting for space on the road network are how most people get around the municipality.

Cremorne has a distinct advantage because much of the area is within a comfortable 10-minute walk of Richmond Station or East Richmond Station - and if they opened a northern entry to South Yarra station and improved pedestrian links across the river alongside the railway lines  - South Yarra would help in serving the tech & marketing favoured area's employment growth.

Collingwood is serviced by the inner stations along the Hurstbridge/South Morang-Mernda railway lines but has Hoddle Street - a very pedestrian-unfriendly barrier - between the bulk of the suburb and the stations.  Like Fitzroy, Collingwood's public transport depends heavily on the radial tram routes and the cross-town smart bus routes on Johnson Street.

Tram services on Victoria Street, Brunswick Street, Smith Street, Bridge Road, Swan Street all, to varying degrees, have the misfortunate of being located within a narrow road corridor where the 'fight' over space, depicted in the tweeted image, is daily practice.

How many new office and residential buildings does it take before we see action on public transport priority on the City of Yarra's streets?

City of Yarra Residential Development Pipeline Status Dwellings
Planning Assessment 2030
Approved 2664
Registration & Sales 887
Under Construction 5359
TOTAL 10,940

Lead image credit: wikipedia

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

Tags: 
City of Yarra Future Public Transport Ideas Trams Public Transport

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pdoff
The good folks here when it was Urban Melbourne once ran a fantastic balanced article called Melbhattan around the reasons supporting certain targeted tram lines operating as Melbourne's metro network. This would require permanent clearways on the chosen lines of course because sharing lanes with vehicle traffic is the antithesis of providing a reliable service. We should be mindful that it isn't suitable for everywhere though and greater care should be taken where certain strips (say Brunswick and Smith Streets) face damage to the character that draws people to these areas in the first place (ie parked cars do slow traffic down and create barriers between pedestrians, cafes and traffic making the experience of these strips more pleasant). But Victoria Street is a different beast and the 109 is arguably a great opportunity for Melbourne's second end-to-end 'semi' light rail line after the 96. An argument could be made that a reliable and frequent service would be a positive for Victoria Street's night economy crowd and would improve access and traffic to and around Victoria Square. Things could get a little more politically sensitive beyond into Kew but that could be addressed in a number of ways, such as with a new service designation that turns back from Vic Suare. Similarly, there is only limited potential damage that could be done to Church Street with permanent clearways (in contrast to Chapel Street further south) so I reckon a frequent and reliable service between Victoria Street and Toorak Road, with it's potential to link numerous east-west services, should be seriously looked at.
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johnproctor
One approach to this that I think would be reasonable would be to announce today that 1 parking space will be removed on the approach and departure side of each set of traffic signals every year until all is removed. in 10 years time or thereabouts we'd have cleared parking from streets - only at locations where a transport benefit would accrue, meanwhile business, residents and council's would have had multiple years to adjust and invest in alternatives. In some cases businesses may shift location if they believe parking is essential to their business, Council's may turn single level carparks to multi-level etc. There would probably also need to be consideration of loading - possibly clearways would be 7am-7pm or something with loading and other parking happening outside that window. Over that transition period the debate would be had about how to use the space going forward. eg. Sydney Road bikes are prioritised, Victoria Street trams are prioritised, some streets the kerbs could be built out and pedestrian space provided and there may be some streets (or sections of streets) where the same lane allocations as today are retained and 'traffic' is prioritised. I don't see a 'big bang' approach working as it would be seen as a 'war on cars' and very scary from a business owner perspective as to the scale of change. A transitional approach probably needed, potentially even protecting certain areas for say 5 years while alternatives can be identified. The other thing that needs to be done better by PT advocates is telling the story of 'people' use by mode on roads rather than 'number of vehicles,' better before/after studies of impacts of changed conditions (like what has happened on Acland Street since all parking was removed on the street front), and the value of any fleet savings that would accrue from more efficient tram operations. Trams run at 16km/h average in melbourne in peak hours. increase that to 20km/h and you've got 25% more fleet on the network 'for free'.
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johnproctor
Page 8 of Plan Melbourne transport chapter (below) already talks to this and good to see a discussion on Sydney Road in the Age today - although contrary to the above Sydney Road is being driven by bicycle safety and would force cars onto tram tracks making the kerbside lane a bike lane. https://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/377113/Plan_Melbourne_2017_Outcome_3_PDF.pdf As a Collingwood local I don't think of Hoddle Street as a pedestrian barrier and see a lot of train users getting off at those inner stations and crossing to get into work in Collingwood. There's also a reasonable number of Doncaster bus users who get off along Hoddle Street and Vic Parade to access the area. Hard to have this discussion without mentioning that Yarra Council were one of the strongest opponents of the 2009/2010 clearways proposals and also push back against almost any parking removal proposals to 'support local business' - they delayed Victoria Parade bus lanes for a long time on that topic, and the same on Hoddle Street, and no coincidence that the last bit of Route 96 to be done is in Yarra.
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zenith
Why just within Yarra?
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