Catching Growth: The Issues Facing Melbourne’s Public Transport System and Its Outer Suburbs

The following post comes courtesy of Global Site Plans' The Grid. CNU and Global Site Plans recently teamed up to syndicate Grid content, as its contingent of writers presents a view on the opportunities and issues of urbanization all across the world. CNU will carry select posts from the Grid direct on the CNU Salons.



As our cities grow, their transport needs become more complex. If we are lucky enough to live in established suburbs that have a legacy of schools, shops, and parks, our local communities and neighbourhoods may provide us with our basic needs and services, our social and work commitments. However, for most of us, meeting all our needs and fulfilling our potential requires us to navigate throughout our city using an increasingly sophisticated mix of modes and networks. 

Melbourne is a city that is experiencing the greatest increase in population in Australia, as well as some of the highest levels of traffic congestion. In control of responding to this challenge and planning a transport system to meet this burgeoning population’s needs is the state government. Whether residents actsustainably and top up their Myki’s (Melbournes new ticketing system), or pump up their “fixies” instead of refueling their cars on a Sunday night in readiness for their work week, should be of major importance to the state government.

The following are some of the public transport issues the city is experiencing:

Zone 1 includes the vast majority of Melbourne’s tram and train network, whilst Zone 2 includes a small amount of outer urban and peri-urban suburbs. These areas generally include lower to middle class neighbourhoods that are devoid of major activity centres, hence the vast majority of residents are forced to work within Zone 1 and pay a daily fare of $11.84. Whilst residents within the Zone 1 Network (that are generally of a middle to high class demographic) only have to pay $7 for their Zone 1 daily fare and see themselves spending $24.20 less a week than Zone 2 residents.

Melbourne's Tram and Train Zones.

Melbourne’s Public Transport. Zone 1 (Yellow) Zone 2 (Blue)

  • Existing Infrastructure’s Inability to Reach New Development Areas

As new suburbs are developed on the urban fringe to appease those priced out by the city’s inner urban real estate, the need for existing infrastructure to be extended is becoming vital and lagging way behind the influx of population.New development areas such as Point Cook and Caroline Springs are examples of areas that have insufficient and congested linkages to the CBD, even though they were developed and planned for less than 15 years ago.

The common thread that lies in these issues is that they all involve residents who are receiving unequal access to the benefits of the public transport infrastructure provided. Through the inefficient allocation of resources and overemphasis on developing our transport systems to appease existing inner urban areas, Victoria may yet find itself dealing with repercussions that will not only affect the lives of its residents, but also the economy that is dependent on them.

Are governments capable of planning to overcome the constantly diversifying issues associated with urban growth?

To read the original post, written by Steven Petsinis, visit Global Site Plans.


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