Bus is good, but rail is best for Doncaster

A forum of transport planners and concerns citizens has been told today that rail is the best transit option for Doncaster. The forum, organised by the Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF) with Melbourne, Manningham and Yarra councils and the Centre for Governance and Management of Urban Transport (GAMUT) at Melbourne University, attracted nearly 100 participants.

MTF Chair Cr Jackie Fristacky said that speakers provided solid evidence of the benefits of rail over bus. ‘Rail provides capacity, certainty and priority – it attracts patronage and encourages economic development far beyond what buses can achieve,’ she said.

The forum was also told that Manningham is the only municipality in Melbourne without access to rail. Claude Cullino, Director Assets & Engineering, City of Manningham said the lack of public transport created high levels of car ownership and significant financial burdens. He said that the higher rate of car ownership cost households an additional $118 million per year. He said that better access to public transport could have an economic benefit of $600 million per annum to Manningham residents.

In a video presentation, West Australian Professor Peter Newman said that bus transport is second best for mass transit on a major corridor like Doncaster. He said the Perth experience showed that rail delivered capacity, reliability, speed and attracted better development.

Managing Director of Ventura Bus, indicated that buses had successfully increased patronage and increased the profile of public transport. He indicated that the service could be greatly improved with the addition of priority bus lanes connecting the city to the freeway.  GHD Rail consultant, Martin Baggott showed that a bus system could establish the corridor facilitating transition to rail.

Speakers at forum

  • Chair, Cr Jackie Fristacky, Chair, Metropolitan Transport Forum
  • Professor Peter Newman, Curtin University; Infrastructure Australia
  • Rob Gell, Executive Director, Access Environmental P/L
  • Professor Bill Russell, GAMUT, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Rob Adams, Director Design & Environment, City of Melbourne
  • Claude Cullino, Director Assets & Engineering, City of Manningham
  • Jane Monk, Chair, Priority Development Panel
  • Andrew Cornwall, CEO, Ventura National Bus
  • Martin Baggott, Business Stream Leader – Rail, GHD Cons. Engineers
  • Steve Manders, Transport and Logistics Adviser
  • Peter Huddle, Asset General Manager Vic & WA, Westfield P/L (Doncaster)

A summary of the presentations follows: Forum jointly hosted by:

  • Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF)
  • Cities of Manningham, Melbourne and Yarra
  • Centre for Governance and Management of Urban Transport (GAMUT)
  • Doncaster transit forum:  Summary presentations

Professor Peter Newman explained the significant contribution rail has made to the Mandurah corridor to Perth in terms of passenger transit growth from 16,000 passengers per day by bus to over 50,000 by rail.  He will also show how the rail line which cost $1.6B and involved tunnelling under the City of Perth, has supported transit oriented development at Welland, Murdoch, and Mandurah.  His advice to Melbourne is that while bus transport is good, it remains second best for mass transit on a major corridor like Doncaster.

You Tube link http://au.youtube.com/pt4me2

Rob Gell called for investment to change the culture of car travel:

“By any measure, our continued over-investment in road infrastructure at the expense of rail has left the suburban transport network effectively crippled and the wider community holding a legacy of health costs, inefficient use of available time and the reality of dealing with “Peak Oil”. It’s time for some new millennium systems planning and long term investment. We simply must design for mass transit in the Doncaster corridor; to begin the change in culture of the hundreds of thousands of sole commuters in vehicles each day.

But we must make the opportunity to change easy, not equally as hard. Rail is the key to the transition.”

Bill Russell, author of the 1991 Eastern Corridor Transport Options Study to the Victorian Minister for Transport, highlighted that the 12 km bus trip to Doncaster took longer than by train from Geelong to Melbourne and the 90kms by rail from Perth to Mandurah.  He identified that the central core of Brazil’s Curitiba bus system much admired as a model in Melbourne, was being replaced by a $680 million dollar rail project.  A bus DART system was welcomed. But this was second best and plannng for rail was essential to serve the corridor.

Rob Adams and Jane Monk emphasised the need for improved links between urban and transport planning including on the Doncaster corridor. They examined the urban development potential accompanying good public transport systems – how rail can better promote this urban development, with civic spaces, higher density, and liveability.

Jane Monk emphasised that park and ride was a costly use of land and discussed examples of good rail development at Subiaca, Chatswood, the Equiset Monash University development at Caulfield.  Doncaster should be created as a great destination to take advantage of the huge capacity offered by reverse peak travel.

Claude Cullino, looked at problems of travel along the corridor, the costs for families and local residents, heavy car dependence and the financial burdens involved.  He said 40% of Manningham residents had an income under $400 per week and could not afford the burden of car dependence.

Westfield’s Peter Huddle compared and contrasted the success of regional activity centres such as Parramatta and in London that have good rail access.  He also identified plans for Westfield at Lower Plenty/South Morang based on rail access.

Andrew Cornwall, from Ventura bus, looked at plans for an expanded bus service based on the Eddington Report recommendations, but acknowledged the speed and capacity advantages of rail. He announced a new bus interchange at Lonsdale Street and the start of 10 new DART buses both to commence operations on 24 November, and also plans for new hybrid electric drive buses.

GHD’s Martin Baggott, addressed the principles of rail best practice requiring an exclusive right of way route, high frequency and easy transfer to other transport.  While bus involved lower capital expenditure, it had higher operating costs and fuel dependency.  Rail required higher capital expenditure but paid off in higher capcity, and speed, lower operating costs, low pollution and supported higher density development.

Steve Manders, transport consultant, presented data on the superiority of rail in carrying 6,000 passengers per hour to the CBD to compete with car use on the Eastern Freeway.  He argued for a rail route from Doncaster to the CBD via stops at Melbourne University, and Parkville separated from the Loop and other lines.

For more info and councillors comment :

  • Cr Jackie Fristacky 0412 597 794 Yarra
  • Cr Grace La Vella 0417 522 238 Manningham
  • Media liaison Greg Day  0418 345 829 | pt4me2

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