Bus Network Improvements

Our Vision

An expanded, made in Victoria, bus network connected with other transport modes with guaranteed high levels of frequency, reliability and safety.

The Principles

Reliability and safety:

  • frequent bus services along major and popular transport routes along the lines of ‘turn up and go’ frequencies
  • bus timetables and services shown in real time at bus stops
  • gradual replacement of existing bus fleet with electric buses made in Victoria
  • Clear maps at transport interchanges that show the modes available, the position of the stops, stations and route lines relative to each other, and the destinations of the connecting services.
  • System and service information that is accessible to all, in addition to phone-based apps.

Connected to activity, employment and transport hubs:

  • identification of hubs and a public and real commitment to servicing these where there are no alternative public transport options
  • recognition that people have a right to decent public transport, and should not be forced to rely on the private car
  • long-term strategic planning that requires bus services to be integrated into the planning and development of new residential and commercial hubs as they are built, not at some later time

Timely bus services:

  • better timetable coordination with other major transport hubs e.g. train stations and other bus services
  • bus prioritisation along major road corridors and to all commercial airports e.g. bus only lanes
  • signalling at intersections to give buses priority
  • 10 minute ‘turn-up-and-go’ timetabling for major routes
  • Longer service spans until at least 10pm on all routes
  • Weekend services for all routes
  • increased weekend bus frequency


  • bus stops at least 500m from anywhere where there is no alternative public transport
  • local area bus networks, using smaller ‘mini buses’ to connect local residents to local hubs, especially in areas with larger numbers of senior citizens, and around hospitals and schools

Brimbank showing Melbourne the Way

Bus Network Reform

In 2014, following Public Transport Victoria’s consultation with the local Brimbank community, a new improved local bus network was rolled out. Bus providers, local government and the community worked together, under tight budget conditions, to achieve significantly better services for commuters, setting the standard for what a local bus network could deliver. This process resulted in a faster, more direct and extensive service for commuters who may also have had limited access to public transport. Better connections to trains, late night bus services, Sunday services on all routes and better connections to key local destinations were all rolled out.  Bus routes were divided into two systems, which improved the frequency and effectiveness of local bus services whilst delivering a reliable service to high commuter satisfaction.

Through extensive analysis of demographics, patronage data, travel surveys, community consultation and advice from bus operators and local government in relation to design, they collectively produced cost-effective network improvements that addressed community needs. The new network, which provided a 16% increase in timetabled service hours, saw a 10% growth in patronage in the first six months. This is significantly higher than short-run increases in service levels in similar international examples. The positive outcomes achieved in Brimbank have been attributed to a combination of increased service levels and improved network design.

The positive results delivered to Brimbanks local bus network and commuters provides a benchmark for what can be achieved in other local areas. This leadership program presents the opportunity to be replicated across other local councils to provide local residents across Greater Melbourne access to a more direct, effective and integrated public transport system.

(Loader C et al 2015)

Ref Publication website: http://www.atrf.info/papers/index.aspx

Better Bus and Bike Infrastructure for Melbourne's West

Monash Electric Bus design research project

Buses Matter (UK)


Reduce the reliance on cars by increasing the accessibility and frequency of buses as an appealing means of transport. This would reduce the number of cars on the road, and therefore improve traffic congestion, rising air quality issues and liveability around our roads.

Buses are an integral and flexible part of the public transport system, providing cost-effective and easy to implement solutions that enable travel around the current public transport gaps and dead zones in connecting people to train and tram routes.

Local businesses stand to benefit from increased foot traffic of commuters encouraged to spend more time in the area. Commuters benefit by avoiding congested traffic and parking costs and frustrations.

Greater accessibility and frequency of buses should act as encouragement to school children

Older people are less reliant on cars out of choice or necessity whilst younger people are increasingly opting for a car free existence.  All segments of society need to be provided with convenient alternative transport choices.

Melbournians are perceived to have a dislike of buses. We can turn this around, but only if Governments seriously commit to making bus travel easy, safe and reliable.

Bus network enhancements have resulted in improvements  across the network, e.g.:

  • Box Hill: 27.5% of train patrons connect by bus or train
  • Footscray: 34.1% of train patrons connect by bus or train
  • Essendon: 51.2% of train patrons connect by bus or train

Governments need to recognise and commit to a broad and long-term vision for public transport, including buses.


That Governments at State and local level work together to develop reliable and relevant bus transport options as part of a strategic integrated public transport plan.  This includes increasing:

  • the planning capacity within the Government sector and
  • the funding available for implementing a bus network that recognises everyone has the right to public transport choices

More reasons to Get on Board