What now for Melbourne's tram and bus networks?

What now for Melbourne's tram and bus networks?
What now for Melbourne's tram and bus networks?

The ALP's platform for the recent state election was heavy on the heavy rail - Melbourne Airport Rail Link, the Suburban Rail Loop and the expanded list of level crossing removals - but what about our tram and bus network?

Those that threw caution at the Suburban Rail Loop when it was first announced invariably asked this question at the time, and it's still a relevant one to ask.

The ALP also made a big deal out of expanding car parking at stations - mainly at the stations in the outer reaches of the rail network - however, other than planning for the Fishermans Bend tram extensions, not much else springs to mind.

If we set aside the rail network, inner Melbourne - to the north, east and south - relies on tram services as its main form of local public transport, and the majority of those routes are competing with ever-increasing amounts of cars on local roads.

Middle and outer Melbourne rely exclusively on buses for local and in some cases longer journeys when you set aside the rail network as well.

Daniel Bowen has a good post on his blog about the car parking problem at Melbourne's stations and he goes to great length to dispel a few myths about car parking at stations.  Have a read of it here.

The Grattan Institute has long published its views that more should be done with existing infrastructure - in particular, road pricing and bus network expansion - and they're not alone.

The Rail Futures Institute takes a holistic approach in advocating for expanded heavy rail networks but also light rail networks in the middle and outer suburbs.

The Medium Capacity Transit (MCT) corridors the Rail Futures Institute identified seek to create a proper grid for the wider metropolitan public transport network. 

"MCT can take the form of rail-based technology such as Light Rail, road-based systems such as 'Bus Rapid Transit' (BRT), metro operations e.g. Paris Metro and London Docklands Light Rail, or more recent developments such as very large guided buses in France and China." 

Rail Futures Institute

With the mountains of political capital the ALP have just banked over the weekend, perhaps there may be more scope for some wholesale change to road-based public transport.

Lead image credit: Philip Mallis, flickr

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.

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LeonG
The problem with more parking at train stations is that they just get filled up as soon as the car park is open (Syndal station is a good example of that). The North East Link Authority has set aside some land at Bulleen for a new park and ride but that parking lot will barely accomodate for how many people would want to use it. Better to use that land as a bus depot and a bike parking facilty. Land could be purchased or public land could be used up north (such as near BMW Bundoura) and a multilevel car parks be built. Then feeder buses could bring commuters down to a Bulleen bus depot to jump on their bike or onto the bus. An airport bus could also depart from a Bulleen bus depot.
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TrueBelievers
"however, other than planning of Fishersman's Bend tram extensions, not much else springs to mind." Rowville light rail is worth mentioning. But it's true, tram and bus projects are almost non-existent in the current big transport agenda. The issue is bus and light rail projects are not flashy enough to gain traction or attention.
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