What me procrastinate?
Russell Degnan

Planning articles in the Age seem to come in big clumps, and this morning was one of those times.

Aaron has already mentioned that Knox City Council is lobbying for public transport in the dead zone beyond Glen Waverly station. Suzanne Carbone also wrote an article showing the difficulties you have to overcome to travel out to that area on an average day. Without doubt the current state of pt in that area is terrible. For several months a few years ago, I commuted to the business parks to the north and east of Monash University from the city, and it regularly took me upwards of an hour and a half from the city - the bus connections are a bit haphazard sometimes.

However, the vast majority of people don't commute to the city from this area. The focus should be on connecting people to the activity centres in that region (Knox City, Glen Waverly, Dandenong, Monash University) - which should be reinforced as places of business and shopping - and from those to other activity centres. There are an awful lot of people who never travel to the CBD and have no reason nore wish too. It is their amenity that is important.

Meanwhile, giant residential towers in the suburbs are being proposed under the cover of Melbourne 2030, and noone seems quite sure what they want, let alone what to do about it. The proposal in Mithcam is bizarre. 17 storeys is about 14 higher than any other building in the area; about ten higher than the sort of proposal you'd think about but be wary about; and about 12 higher than what could be adequately built that allows urban consolidation without affecting visual and other urban amenity.

Also interesting though, is the mention of a panel to help development of activity and transit centres, and to advise the minister. Watch this space on the panel I say; it sounds like the beginning of the end for strategic planning at the local council level. But more on that another day.

But why centralise planning at the State level when you can do it Federally? PIA president Marcus Spiller wants the next government to get involved in urban affairs, but for a rather strange reason:

"We have seen time and time again that states cannot go it alone in bringing about sustainable cities," he said. "The states are just too politically exposed to the NIMBY, or even BANANA, phenomenon."

Our planning system might well be too democratic for its own good, but expecting the Federal government to do a better job is naive at best. They may be less exposed to individual citizens complaints but they are much more exposed when it comes to political lobbying. We have enough roads already thanks very much.

Finally, the Station Pier has turned 150, and there is an exhibition on its history at the Immigration Museum (on Flinders St.). I can't speak for the exhibition, but the pier and the area around it is well worth a look.

Sterner Matters 2nd October, 2004 18:29:39   [#] 


Rowville Residents Do Commute along this corridor
The Rowville Rail Line would in fact service Monash University, a centre of activity. The Rowville rail line was first proposed in 1969 responding to a need for fast, frequent and efficient public transport along this corridor.

Furthermore Rowville has been identified as an activity centre and this rail line would allow for connecting bus services which would service areas such as Knox City, Dandenong and Ringwood.

Many Rowville residents do work in the CBD and commute to Monash University (or nearby businesses). Likewise the future Rowville / Monash Technology Precinct will further develop employment growth along this corridor.

Alex Makin  5th October, 2004 13:58:20  

The stats don't support this
Hi Alex,

For some reason the Outer Eastern P/T Plan has been taken off the DOI. The study area encompasses a far larger zone than just Knox but my earlier point stands, to quote:

"more than 80 per cent of these trips do not leave the area while less than 5 percent of travel is to inner Melbourne and the CBD"

As you say, the rail line will connect to Monash - which is good - and to the business district. However both areas will need substantial improvements to their walkability before anyone will travel by public transport. As I noted previously, I did commute to the business district in that area and it is appalling.

Regarding he 1969 plan. It is emblemattic of the problem I am talking about. Notably it had two categories: "people who travel to the CBD" for who it wanted to build rail; and everyone else, for whom it planned to build freeways.

The 1969 plan was actually better than the new proposal. Because it wanted to extend the line to Knox and then Ferntree Gully which would allow people to get to and from Ringwood. (I'm not sure where in Knox it was going, that isn't really a straight line)

I don't oppose p/t in the area, but I think a heavy rail line is a waste of money. They are inflexible, not very efficient, and won't get sufficient use to be a viable at any great frequency (and if you think that doesn't matter, try taking a train to Upfield). A far better plan would be to build tram lines along Springvale, Stud and Wellington Rds; linking them into the so-called transport nodes.
Russ  5th October, 2004 17:15:43  

Another Age article
Hey guys, another interesting planning article in the Age today. New buildings are going to have to include showers, changerooms, and parking facilities for bicycles:


Now, if they could only join up the ridiculously fragmented bicycle routes around our city we'd really be getting somewhere...
Rob  6th October, 2004 12:14:22  

Outer East Public Transport and Statistics

Thank you for your reply, however, I wish to reply to some of the contents of your post.

I am very familiar with Monash University and the surrounding areas, I was previously a student of Monash University and I am a resident of the outer eastern suburbs.

The Outer Eastern Public Transport Plan as featured on the DOI was removed as it is intended to be incorporated into the Metropolitan wide Transport Plan (whenever it is released). This plan identified the 'outer east' as incorporating the Cities of Whitehorse and Monash, which besides being middle rather than outer municipalities also contain sizeable commercial districts (ie Monash and Box Hill) which does tend to skew the overall statistics.

The ABS used to compile 'journey-to-work' statistics which included the location of employment for residents in a local government area; however, to my knowledge these specific results are no longer produced. The 1996 census, however, indicated that approximately 10% of employees in Knox South work in the CBD and 20% work in surrounding municipalities (including the city of Monash). These figures of course exclude students such as those travelling from Rowville to Monash and the sizeable numbers of students that travel between Caulfield and Clayton campuses.

Heavy-rail is the most efficient form of public transport available as it can move large numbers of people quickly and using low emission levels and the population base of both Monash and Knox would support its usage with a frequent service interval. Light-rail (ie tram) along Wellington Road would not provide the capacity required to move the students of Monash and residents of Knox in sizeable numbers. The overcrowding of the bus service from Huntingdale to Monash is clear evidence that capacity problems exist, even when this bus runs at 10 minute intervals and the congestion of Wellington Road demonstrates the demand for high capacity travel throughout the area.

The State government objective of 20% public transport patronage by 2020 will only be realised if more than just commuting trips are undertaken by public transport. This means there will need to be a modal shift towards public transport for those travelling to study and recreational locations. Light-rail along Wellington Road will not to be able to cope with existing levels of demand let alone any additional patronage increases.

You are correct in stating that service frequencies do matter. There is a positive correlation between service intervals and public transport usage. This is evidenced by frequency upgrades that took place on the Sandringham line in the early 1990s where the increased patronage covered any additional expenses. On a smaller scale the recent bus service upgrades along Springvale and Blackburn Roads which now see a 15 minute peak service interval have provided a 30% patronage increase.

With a significant investment into public transport any pedestrian and modal improvements, including connecting services would likely follow as evidenced in Perth. As an initial step to connecting service improvements bus service upgrades along Stud and Springvale Roads are definitely warranted (the Stud Road route is the seventh highest patronised bus route in Melbourne, yet it finishes service at 7:45 pm!)

The line to Knox via Ferntree Gully was a proposed extension of the Glen Waverley Line and is a separate proposal to the Rowville Rail Line.

Alex Makin
Alex Makin  7th October, 2004 14:14:09  

Re: Outer eastern transport
Hi Alex, Thanks again for your substantive comments on this issue.

The statistics issue is quite vexing. I find it astounding that so little actual data is available on the places people travel to, when and why. Presumably the metro-wide transport plan will address that. If it doesn't it will not be worth the paper it is written on.

10% is still not a very high number. Given also, that very few people from that region go into the city to shop. However, that is not a reason to oppose the rail line if it was to get sufficient use. Would I be right in saying however, that the real benefit of the line is for students travelling to Monash University (and businessmen to the surrounds)? If so, remember that spin matters. Making Monash a major transportation hub in that part of Melbourne is a very good idea - as indicated in my original post. Connecting Rowville to the CBD by heavy rail is not worth the expense.

Light rail can be far more flexible than Melbourne's existing (and somewhat antiquated) tram system. Extra cars can be added to many modern trams (making it closer to heavy rail in throughput) but without losing the benefits of the light rail system: better integration with the urban environment, better acceleration and stopping times, and the ability to run on streets as well as rail.

To a large extent my main concern with heavy rail is that it is not efficient because it has structural inefficiencies that make it slow and inconvenient in comparison to a car, and cars are what it has to compete with and beat if p/t is to be properly patronised. We are reaching a point where we need to look beyond what is (frankly) a 19th century system.

Given the costs involved in new infrastructure, planning for transport should be looking beyond current needs to a time fifty or more years hence. Planning for less gives far weaker solutions that have their own problems.

Final point, I have a copy of the 1969 transportation plan on my bookshelf. The proposed line was from Huntingdale to Ferntree Gully, with stops at Monash, Springvale Sth, Mulgrave, Rowville, and Knox. I would like to see rail lines linked together because non-radial travel is very difficult, and likely to remain so for the forseeable future. Hence again, my preference for improved access between activity centres, rather than route extensions.
Russ  8th October, 2004 02:42:36