Melbourne’s major suburban employment and activity hubs (aka National Employment and Innovation Clusters in Plan Melbourne) will be accessible by new light rail services, providing transport choices with city shaping potential enabling more diverse, affordable and sustainable housing options.
The lack of transport and housing choices in Melbourne’s suburbs
Central and inner Melbourne have the widest range of housing options and transport choices. The two go together. But beyond the inner city, public transport patronage and housing options are much reduced. This is because high capacity public transport and higher density housing (providing more choices) is sparse outside the central and inner city. Light rail transit (LRT) has been demonstrated to work well in re-shaping lower density suburban environments to expand housing options and transport accessibility. LRT is faster than current Melbourne trams as it runs in its own right of way and has signal priority, but being smaller than trains, has much lower infrastructure costs. The Smart Bus program has demonstrated very high patronage growth on orbital suburban routes serving large centres of activity. LRT would provide higher capacities and a more comfortable and reliable service in keeping with Melburnians’ expectations. The wide arterials in most Melbourne suburbs are ideal for retrofitting LRT to serve major employment nodes such as Werribee, Sunshine, Highpoint, Melbourne Airport, Bundoora, Monash Clayton and Dandenong.
Immediate planning for a network of light rail routes to provide decent high capacity public transport in the places where most Melburnians live and work - the suburbs. While the eventual network would be extensive and longer than the existing tram network, a few priority routes include
- Elsternwick to Rowville (via Nepean Hwy, North Rd, Wellington Rd, Stud Rd). This would connect the Sandringham, Frankston and Pakenham/Cranbourne lines to Monash Clayton and to Rowville.
- Sunshine to Highpoint/Footscray (via Ballarat Rd and Hampstead Rd / Moore St)
- Melbourne Airport to La Trobe University via Broadmeadows, Keon Park and Bundoora
- Dandenong to Ringwood via Rowville, Scoresby, Knox and Wantirna
- Tarneit to East Werribee NEIC via Pacific Werribee and Derrimut Rd Station (new station)
- Newport to Broadmeadows via Brooklyn, Sunshine, Sunshine North and Airport West (utilising spare land in the freight rail corridor, serving the many urban renewal sites along it that have poor access to public transport)
- Create a new light rail ‘triangle’ that connects the inner west, the inner north and the inner south: Highpoint to St Kilda Jct via Brunswick and Clifton Hill; St Kilda Junction to HIghpoint via South Melbourne, Docklands, North Melbourne and Footscray. This would provide much-needed east-west, north-south and west-south connectivity that would reduce pressure on roads for travel movements in corridors such as: Brunswick/Maribyrnong Rd/Alexandra Pde/Racecourse Rd; Hoddle St/Punt Rd; and St Kilda Rd/Queens Rd/Kingsway/Spencer St/Wurundjeri Way and Dynon Rd.It would also take pressure off city loop railway stations by providing better access between rail lines within the inner city area without the need to enter the loop. It would also improve public transport accessibility in the inner city in general by connecting areas currently lacking good accessibility.
$7Bn (estimated) for planning and implementing 7 priority routes above (comparable to the West Gate Tunnel, but without the tolls!)