Book Club
Tales of the City
Urban Design


Angling for Public Transport
Russell Degnan

For what must be the third time in a month, The Age has gone all out with stories on public transport. Today's batch focus on two things: a report (not online yet) from the Metropolitan Transport Forum on public transport in Melbourne, headed up by Perth planning superstar Peter Newman that basically lays the boot into government for under-investment, poor planning, and for lagging behind other (mostly European) cities; and further articles on rail and tram network "congestion".

The cynic in me might suggest that they are only complaining about congestion because take-up in the outer suburbs has impacted on Age readers, writers and editors ability to get seats (and sometimes standing-room); but it is a welcome change from printing press releases from the business lobby about the need to subsidise their freight transport. While I don't share the sentiment from Peter Newman that it could cause Labor to lose the election -- this would entail, amongst other things, a competent opposition -- there is a groundswell of public support for three propositions:

- That having public transport is a good thing (three cheers for middle class welfare)
- That the outer suburbs don't have public transport adequate enough to be usable.
- That investment in infrastructure for public transport over freeways might be worthwhile.

It is the last that the Age is currently pushing, and indeed, that public transport advocates have been pushing for as long as anyone can remember.

It would be nice at this point to think that the best option will be chosen based on intelligent assessments of the economic, environmental and social advantages of each. If it does occur, it will be a first for transport planning in this state. This is a political bumfight, with the inner-suburban, trendy, and environmentally friendly Age, and to some extent the outer-suburban, woe-is-me, where is my handout Herald Sun on one side, and the entrenched engineering culture of the Dept. of Infrastructure and fiscal conservatism of Treasury on the other.

I fully expect some sort of policy change by Labor before the next election, but that raises two other, more interesting, problems. Firstly, this is a government with a penchant for the half-arsed, cheap solution, completely lacking in vision, and unlikely to find any within their bureaucracy or their party [1]. You can hope, but it would be a remarkable change if the end result was anything but a tightly spun ball of marginal, and largely ineffective, improvements. Secondly, unlike some people, I am not so enamored of public transport to believe it will provide a solution to all our ills. Pissing money away for political expediency is hardly the best way to achieve a decent transportation network. Transport of all types -- walking, cycling, car, tram, train, bus -- shapes the city, and people's choices. Drawing lines on a map showing a bunch of new railway lines does not count as a plan.

Update: Well that was fast. I'd have been more impressed if any of the proposals listed had been either visionary or not already announced.

[1] To quote Principal Skinner, "prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong".

Planning 5th November, 2005 11:31:20   [#] 


Angling for Public Transport
I have an interview for a new job this week in a location that will necessitate switching from PT to a car. It will be impossible to make the journey in less than 90 minutes as opposed to the 20 in the car at peak times.

"A tram can hold 140 people" - as long as those 140 people squich in tight together and are OK with close contact with strangers for 40 minutes at a time.

Isn't Flinders St station near capacity anyway? That is evident to anyone who has sat in Jollimont yards or beside the aquarium for 5,10 or 15 minutes waiting for a platform to become available. How will they integrate more lines or more services?
Bruce  5th November, 2005 22:24:53  

Flinder St.
I am not sure about Flinder St. Because it is so politicised and prone to conspiracy theories, It is wise to be wary when various agencies claim any sort of capacity constraint. Flinders St. station used to have substantially more passengers, but that was before the loop was built, and the rationalisation of the lines in the late 90s. Apparently the loop is at capacity or near to it, so some of the throughput issues might just be scheduling problems from the convergence of multiple lines and the inconsistency of running times.

A large part of the problem is we are still essentially running a suburban spoke and wheel system in a city that outgrew that model of growth about 30 years ago.
Russ  6th November, 2005 13:17:25  

Recycled leftovers...
Yeah. One reasonable-sized project, and two minor pieces of tinkering, all of which have previously been announced.
Does Peter Batchlor think we can't remember last month's press releases?
Rob Merkel  7th November, 2005 12:42:58  

Well... no
Most people don't pay much attention (which means announcing something is pretty pointless anyway). But he did fool the Age for at least one day. Plus, when the PTUA and others arc up most people just think they are whining.
Russ  7th November, 2005 13:45:36  

MTF Report
The MTF report *is* online (on the VLGA website) download Lhere. (PDF - 5MB).

Aaron Hewett  9th November, 2005 09:42:15  


May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015

Recent Comments

Optimal stop spacing and
      Russ, Tony Morton
Mode Choice and Rational
      Russ, Jason Murphy
The Gastronomic Pub Crawl
      Russ, Andrew
Monday Melbourne: CCLIV,
Monday Melbourne: CCXXXII
      Russ, Andrew
Monday Melbourne: CCXXXII


Scribbling on Bricks
Melbourne 2030 Portal
Melbourne on Transit
Save Our Suburbs
Sustainable Melbourne
Urban Creature


The Next American City
Andrew Blum
Architecture and Morality
Bright Lights Dim Beauty
       of Chicago

City Comforts
The City Desk
City States
Diamond Geezer
Forum for Urban Design
Me, My Life +

Progressive Reactionary
Rebuilding Place in the
       Urban Space

Urban Cartography
Urban Commons
Urban Planning Research

Design and Development

A Daily Dose of

Beyond Brilliance,
       Beyond Stupidity

Brand Avenue
CoolTown Studios
City of Sound
Curbed [LA] [SF]
The Ground Floor
Lebbeus Woods
The Measures Taken
New (Sub)Urbanism
Private Sector
       Development Blog

Reason Commentaries
Richard Green Sit Down Man, You're
       a Bloody Tragedy

Urban Planning Blog
Veritas et Venustas
Wow Flutter

Culture and Theory

2 Blowhards
Abstract Dynamics
Aesthetic Grounds
Anne Galloway
James Howard Kunstler
Junk for Code
Karrie Jacobs
Life Without Buildings
Martin Krieger
Place Space
Rough Theory
The Sesquipedalist
Side Effects
Space and Culture
Strange Harvest


Blog Like You Give a Damn
The Commons Blog
Environmental and
       Urban Economics

Impact Analysis
Jetson Green
Landscape and Urbanism
Muck and Mystery
The Perfect City
Web Urbanist
World Changing


cfsmtb in low
       earth orbit

Live from the Third Rail
Peter Gordon's Blog
Streets Blog
Train Blog
The Transportationist

Non Blogs

Planners Web
Project for Public

New Urbanism
American Planning

Polar inertia

Australian Policy

Liveable Places
Australian Transport
       Discussion Board

Urban Design Forum
Urban Residue
Environmental News
Metropolitan Transport