Is 'getting it done' good enough for the Monash cluster?

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Last week when Spring Street announced it would be allocating $3 million for the planning work on a tram line between Caulfield and Rowville, the concept of a heavy rail line to Rowville was given its marching orders.

The Monash region - what the Victorian Planning Authority calls a National Employment and Innovation Cluster (NEIC) - hosts the highest concentration of jobs outside of central Melbourne and the tram/light rail planning money announced last week was originally foreshadowed in the Victorian Planning Authority's draft framework for the area.

Wellington Road was delineated with a line suggesting "investigate high capacity Public Transport". Et voilà, Spring Street has done just that - except the public were not given any context or reason for the route - the planning money was billed as the first step in 'getting it done' to use the State Government's mantra.

All the other major roads that run through the Monash NEIC are also marked as 'focal point(s) for intensification and high capacity public transport'.  Given the scale of the entire cluster, buses currently are and will be a major focus but is it worth continuing to explore other rail-based public transport options?

One such route, flagged by UM members commenting on previous articles, is Springvale Road, specifically between Nunawading and Springvale (or Huntingdale station via Wellington and North Roads).  

The same group that has one of the more robust visions for Melbourne Airport Rail Link, the Rail Futures Institute, has in the past also identified Wellington Road and North Road as a possible new Light Rail corridor from Monash westwards to Gardenvale.

Spring Street's $3 million allocation of funding for the planning of a tram link between Caulfield and Rowville, built over two phases, suggests there's at least an appetite for looking beyond heavy rail to get more of the suburbs moving out of their cars.  

The announcement was made without a disclosure of a wider network development plan, nor, disappointingly, any specifics on other projects in the Monash region - even though areas for investigation had been identified through the VPA planning process.

Regardless, the first route that comes to mind for a more detailed investigation is Springvale Road which runs along the eastern edge of the Monash Cluster and connects other employment centres in Springvale itself, Brandon Park, Glen Waverley, Tally Ho business park in Burwood east and Nunawading.

As discussed last week, the planning work that will commence on the bank of the funding announcement will nail down a route and station/stop locations.  If the focus is on speed, as we mused last week, a greater degree of separation between rail and private car vehicles will be needed.

This emphasis on separation, speed and frequency should be translated into other routes if they are at all on the horizon.

Monash's NEIC is the largest in the metro area which will see many thousands of new jobs added over time - not everyone's going to commute from the city out there.

Despite it being budget and the start of the election season, we need only look at the Fishermans Bend planning process to see a good example of land-use and transport planning working in tandem (at least, it's a step in the right direction). 

'Getting it done' to Monash and Rowville might work well with the voting punters, but it's a case of two steps forward, one step back - like Fishermans Bend, we need to see a cluster-wide transport plan.

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