Infrastructure Victoria releases new paper, initiatives to tackle congestion in the short term

Infrastructure Victoria has been busy devising a new swathe of advice for the state government, releasing its Five-year focus: immediate actions to tackle congestion paper today.

Interestingly enough, the Herald Sun has chosen to portray the release of the paper as a plan, with its frontpage teaser on its website suggesting it's a plan that will get executed.

Alas, as with anything Infrastructure Victoria does, it's more advice rather than concrete planning.  Transport planning is carried out by Transport for Victoria.

The advice agency, and increasingly Victoria's best public repository of transport data, has reiterated its call first made upon the release of the 30-year strategy for a new road pricing regime to better manage demand on the road network.

Infrastructure Victoria, through the release of this paper, has provided modeled evidence on how introducing peak and off-peak public transport fares will also provide benefits to the transport network through both mode (from car to public transport) and time shifts.

Infrastructure Victoria also recommends extending the car parking levy that applies to the CBD into the City of Yarra and City of Stonnington - two areas that consistently see some of the worst congestion at present and with the car parking levy extended into these areas, the agency believes it would force behavioural change. Revenue raised from the extended levy would be funneled back into active transport infrastructure.

The bus network gets special attention from the agency as well.  It cites the success of the short, high-frequency bus routes which connect from stations to universities like the 401 from North Melbourne to the University of Melbourne and finds that 40% of the bus network is underperforming based on a metric which measures boardings per hour.

Any bus route which does not achieve more than 20 boardings per hour is deemed under-performing and Infrastructure Victoria recommends a widespread audit of all under-performing routes, potentially replacing them with on-call services or altering routes and frequencies.  The agency also says Spring Street should also focus on improving routes which are deemed performing by possibly strengthening routes and increasing frequencies.

In a sign of the times, active transport investment is a focus in the 5-year paper and it's not all about the inner-city.  Infrastructure Victoria has published data on current active transport trips versus potential trips for the National Employment and Innovation Clusters at Parkville, Monash and La Trobe.

Data published through the paper shows that there's potential for 80,000+ additional active transport trips to the city from surrounding areas, but crucially there is potential for 60,000 active transport trips (split 40k/20k) to Monash and La Trobe NEICs respectively.

These two areas are also a focus for increased bus services, and while it appears (and is logical) that Infrastructure Victoria's paper does not reflect the recent budgetary announcement on planning work for trams to the south-east, Wellington Road, as one of the routes IV highlights for special bus treatment in its paper is going to be a tram line.

One image to close with.  It depicts the projected increase in car trips between different metropolitan regions by 2031. 

We here at Urban Melbourne (well ok, it's just me) regularly talk about orbital or cross-town rail projects in the middle to outer ring of suburbs - while IV's paper is focused on lower cost, rapidly deployable initiatives for the next 5 years, we also need to keep on eye on the medium to longer term.

Should we be planning more road capacity in the mid-eastern to mid-south eastern regions or should we be looking at long-term behavioural change (as well as mode shifting existing car trips) with high-capacity light or heavy projects?

Ditto - there's a projected increase in trips around the inner city (mid-western/outer western to mid-northern, mid-northern to mid-eastern/mid-south eastern) - much of that car trip growth is in the not-so-insignificant 2000-4000 range - why should we be planning road expansion for that trip growth?

Projected car trip growth in metropolitan Melbourne (2031) - image: Infrastructure Victoria

Click here to read the Five-year focus: immediate actions to tackle congestion paper.

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