Are buses the solution to Melbourne’s missing link?

Are buses the solution to Melbourne’s missing link?
Ellen Sandell

Melbourne’s public transport system is something to be proud of, but it doesn’t take long to spot one of the long-standing problems.

Our network is designed to funnel people in and out of the CBD, so we end up with a severe lack of options to get from east to west, or vice versa.

Standing at Queen Victoria Market, for example, trying to get to Fitzroy or Richmond, you face a slow, two-tram journey via the city that’s sure to have you running late.

With COVID continuing to play havoc with our lives, more people are travelling in their cars or by bike to maintain social distance, but we can’t forget about public transport for those who need it. Now’s the opportunity to plan for what we’ll need in a post-COVID world, and it’s clear inner Melbourne has a clear need for more cross-city services.

Buses are often the poor cousin of Melbourne’s public transport, but they can provide that really important link where train and tram connections are missing.

In the last Victorian State Budget, Greens MP for Brunswick Dr Tim Read and I were pleased to be able to negotiate funding for extra services at peak hour on the 505 bus route through Parkville Gardens.

This was one of the worst-serviced areas of the inner city and there was only one bus an hour before the recent state budget! Now the people who live in Parkville Gardens, many of whom work in our important hospitals, biomedical precinct, and research institutions, have at least better options during peak hour. I’m sure we’ll also need more services here into the future.
I have also been pleased to advocate for more services for the 402 bus, which goes from Footscray, through Kensington, North Melbourne, Parkville, and Carlton and terminates at St Vincent’s Hospital. This is one of the busiest bus routes in the city, especially used to access the hospitals.

Unfortunately, the 402 bus still stops relatively early in the evening, and I would love to see services later into the night. I’m also advocating to the state government for an extension into East Melbourne and even Fitzroy or Richmond, to make sure access across the city is even simpler.

More also needs to be done to make our public transport accessible for all as our public transport system adjusts to life post-COVID, including accessible trams stops on all routes (especially 57) which was promised by the state government but not delivered, signalling upgrades on the Craigieburn line to allow more trains to run at overcrowded Kensington Station, and upgrades to South Kensington.

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