best practice climate change government policy public transport sustainability

The Need to Understand Your Own Business

Transport is a “service” industry. This was the subject of an earlier blog, and it is important this be well understood.

Transport is a “service” industry. This was the subject of an earlier blog, and it is important this be well understood. Otherwise a lot of money can be wasted on ill conceived and poorly designed transport projects that do not meet travellers needs let alone standards of world best practice. The average person would assume that people who are planning and designing our shiny new transport infrastructure understand this and get it “right” but here in Victoria they would be mistaken.  

This issue has been raised by Peter Parker and reported on his blog but is of such fundamental importance that I have quoted it here. Illustrations and photographs are included in his blog.

The new Coburg Station 

Posted: 11 Jan 2021 11:25 AM PST 

Although the station is open for passenger service, the most direct access to the north is not yet, with long walks to buses. There is not even any wayfinding signage to buses, such as installed on a mass scale during the Metlink signage era (about 15 years ago).

The new Coburg station looks shiny and nice but of long term significance is its poor design as a transport hub. As pointed out by the Upfield Corridor Coalition, it should have been built to straddle busy Bell St, which sees 13 buses per hour (offpeak). This would have enlarged the station’s walking catchment and improved connectivity with buses by allowing people to catch buses either east or west without negotiating one of the northern suburbs’ busiest roads. The diagrams below compare best and more typical design practices for stations involving elevated rail.

An emerging pattern with new stations that emerge from grade separations is that their designers do not always see the public transport system as a whole, including the need for interchange between modes (that should ideally be just a few steps). Maximising walking catchments measured in accessible population / within 10 minutes walk (including that required to cross major roads that poor designs impose on station users) should also be another key criteria when evaluating designs”.  

These are fundamental issues that every transport planner and designer should understand and get right. The relevant knowledge and expertise should reside within the Department as a knowledgeable client – one that knows its own business. Unfortunately this is not an isolated failing. Nor is it confined to the transport portfolio. It is a systemic problem that pervades government at every level and we pay a huge price, but it needs to be addressed if we are to respond effectively to really important issues such as the global climate emergency.

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