06.08.2020Transporting Melbourne: A call for an integrated transport plan for Greater Melbourne

What a time it is to be considering Greater Melbourne’s transport and infrastructure challenges! With the city and state locking down again to reduce the spread of COVID-19, transport, planning and economic development practitioners are grappling with how we can reshape Melbourne for the better following the crisis.

Against this backdrop, on 29 July, Committee for Melbourne welcomed hundreds of interested members and stakeholders to the Committee’s E-ROOM to launch our latest report – “Transporting Melbourne”. The timing was right: our capacity to move people and freight efficiently and develop our city to maintain economic growth and liveability standards will be vital in helping the city regain its footing following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Committee undertakes a membership survey each year, in which transport is always ranked as the most important topic that members see as important for the future of Melbourne. There is a reason for this, and it is because transport is the backbone of liveability and economic viability of our city. The creation, construction, maintenance and running of transport infrastructure delivers jobs and economic contribution to the state. But more than this, connectivity affects:

  • liveability,
  • economic development,
  • access to jobs and services, and
  • innovation and productivity.

The purpose of the report “Transporting Melbourne” is to call for the development and publication by the Victorian State Government of a comprehensive plan for an integrated transport system for Greater Melbourne, which incorporates transport, land-use and economic development planning. This would provide the certainty and transparency required to underpin the liveability and economic viability needed for Melbourne. It would have to be led by government, but the main goal is to ensure all stakeholders have input and are allied with a clear plan.

The report highlights examples of considerations for an integrated transport plan, including demand management, infrastructure, technology, land-use planning and economic-development planning. These considerations are especially important as we transition to recovery following the pandemic. The advent of COVID-19 has seen some changes to the level of demand on the transport network, some of those lifestyle changes likely to continue to some extent in the future – like working from home. Elements of transport planning are even more important such as demand management, active transport and neighbourhood development. With Governments having spent a great deal on stimulus packages through the COVID crisis, there may be a need for more private sector investment into transport initiatives. This would require consideration of PPPs and cost-benefit analysis, and of course being more transparent around development plans to encourage certainty for private investors.

The E-ROOM forum on 29 July, to launch the report “Transporting Melbourne”, included discussion aligned with the key themes in the report. The event featured some of Melbourne’s leading thinkers on transport network planning and development, including Ishaan Nangia Partner, McKinsey & Company and chair, Committee for Melbourne’s Transport Taskforce, Brendan Bourke CEO, Port of Melbourne, Alison Leighton General Manager – Strategy, Planning & Climate Change, City of Melbourne and Michel Masson CEO, Infrastructure Victoria. They offered unique perspectives on a vision for Melbourne’s transport planning and development. Key takeaways included:

  • Greater Melbourne requires a truly comprehensive plan to guide decisions around how the city will grow.
  • The social and economic ramifications of COVID-19 mean that more than ever, a clear, strategic plan with targets, timeframes and accountabilities is needed.
  • Collaboration between various government departments and their interaction with external stakeholders will be critical for ensuring Melbourne develops in a manner which is sustainable and meets economic, transport and lifestyle needs.
  • Growing congestion will impact the international competitiveness of our industries unless significant action is taken.
  • Accountability concerning infrastructure decision-making is improving. The Victorian Government is now required to respond to Infrastructure Victoria’s transport strategy. Furthermore, Plan Melbourne Refresh – Melbourne’s key planning document – has survived a change of government. The expansion of the Department of Transport provides opportunities for collaboration across departments and with stakeholders.
  • As Melbourne transitions on the road to recovery, investment certainty underpinned by a transport blueprint is as important as it ever was.

The discussion emphasised the report’s key premise that a comprehensive integrated transport plan for Greater Melbourne – that includes land-use and economic development planning – is essential. The need for an integrated transport plan is therefore as important now as it ever was, and this was also reinforced through the discussions by the panelists at the launch of the report “Transporting Melbourne”.

Committee for Melbourne extends its thanks to members of the Transport Taskforce Steering Committee for helping develop the report, including contributions from member organisations Arcadis; Ashurst; Commonwealth Bank of Australia; Good Cycles; Jacobs; McKinsey & Company; Melbourne Water; Metro Trains; Monash University; Port of Melbourne; RACV; RPS and Transurban.

We encourage you to take the time to read “Transporting Melbourne” and to listen to the recording of the launch if you were unable to join us last week. For more information about the Committee’s Transport Taskforce, please contact Leanne Edwards, Director Policy at ledwards@melbourne.org.au or Brett van Duppen, Policy and Research Officer at bvanduppen@melbourne.org.au

Download the report

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