17.08.2023Course Correction – Reforming Melbourne’s buses report

On 17 August 2023, Committee for Melbourne released its Course Correction – Reforming Melbourne’s buses report, with significant contributions from our member organisations, including from Arup and The University of Melbourne.

Read the report

Read the media release

Read the article by Patrick Hatch at The Age: The unsexy solution to smashing Melbourne’s traffic congestion woes

Listen to ABC’s Melbourne Breakfast segment with Sammy J: More bus lanes, 10 minute wait times suggested to overhaul bus system

Listen to 3AW’s segment: How buses could be the key to fixing Melbourne’s congestion

Read the article by Laura Placella at The Herald Sun: Experts call for better bus use

The report addresses the challenges associated with reform, presents a vision for an optimised bus network and offers a feasible pathway to successfully implement comprehensive reform.

The report comes following the Committee’s annual Benchmarking Melbourne reports, which reveal an emerging ‘tale of two cities’, reflecting a stark contrast between the exceptional city centre, which has more public transport options and services than the wider metropolis. Those reports highlight that in terms of the proportion of people who can reach the city centre within a one-hour public transport commute, Melbourne ranks 10th out of 14 peer cities. As a result, residents in the outer suburbs heavily rely on cars and face challenges accessing essential services, education, employment, healthcare and social activities. These challenges disproportionately affect individuals with limited mobility, low incomes and marginalised communities.

With Melbourne’s population forecast to reach 6 million by 2031 and 9 million by 2050, we must ensure the city delivers for all Melburnians, including by offering efficient, effective and reliable public transport options. In Course Correction, we outline how buses offer great opportunities for people to move around the city more effectively. They can connect people with transit hubs, shopping centres, business districts, educational institutions, hospitals, and other important destinations.

Bus journeys in Melbourne only account for 1.62% of all trips annually, highlighting the untapped potential for bus usage in Melbourne.

The Victorian Government has set forth a vision for a cleaner, integrated and contemporary bus network in Victoria’s Bus Plan (2021). Its plan is supported by the Zero Emission Bus Transition consultation paper, which details the government’s proposed approach to making the transition to zero emission buses.

The Committee’s Course Correction report aims to support the government’s plan by outlining the necessary ambition, clear targets and timelines for comprehensive reform within a reasonable timeframe. With 30% of bus contracts up for renewal in 2024, urgent action is needed to deliver substantial reform of Melbourne’s bus system to deliver a modern network with direct, frequent, reliable and environmentally friendly services.

The Course Correction report shows comprehensive bus reform that prioritises fast, frequent and direct services, could deliver substantial benefit for Melbourne. In particular, new data from Arup shows that:

  • A reformed bus network that achieves the same levels of patronage as existing SmartBus services could reduce over 100 million private vehicle trips annually, or deliver 10% of additional travel demand, in Melbourne by 2030.
  • Between 330,000 to 870,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent could be saved in 2030 (equivalent to between 1.6% and 4.4% of Victoria’s total annual transport emissions) with bus fleet electrification and mode share between 1.6% and 4%.

For any media enquiries, please contact Leanne Edwards, Director of Policy & Advocacy at ledwards@melbourne.org.au

Course correction: Reforming Melbourne's buses report front cover

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