Transport charter for Melbourne


State governments of Victoria have for many years given priority to building new transport infrastructure above planning and delivering an integrated public transport service. This priority is being challenged by the public, and governments are now responding. A plan to serve the mobility needs of the public must form the context within which priorities for infrastructure are considered. The mobility plan must implement the Transport Integration Act, Victoria (2010) which states:

‘The transport system and land use should be aligned, complementary and supportive and ensure that – transport decisions are made having regard to the current and future impact on land use, land use decisions are made having regard for the current and future development and operation of the transport system’ (section 11).

‘The transport system should … facilitate integrated and seamless travel within and between different modes of transport’ (section 12)

The mobility plan should extend from the short term (what is achievable within 3 years) through the medium (10 years) and long term (20 years). Longer term planning means keeping options open to change direction as new circumstances come to light.

Public transport service in the outer suburbs, including growth areas, is very poor. Much more attention should be paid to providing public transport for shorter journeys to relieve outer urban road congestion, as well as improving the ease and speed of public transport for outer-inner commuter journeys.

The emphasis upon motorway building over the years has failed to reduce congestion throughout the road system. Public transport basic infrastructure has been allowed to decay. High quality public transport will ease traffic congestion on the roads.  City transport systems built around public transport not only enable a better urban environment with healthier outcomes, but cost less to the public than systems built around the private car.


Victorian taxpayers spend nearly three billion dollars per year on Melbourne’s public transport, not including the fares they pay. They have a right to better value than the system currently provides. They expect and demand a high frequency, integrated service. They expect a plan to improve the service continuously, and they expect transparent and easily understood reporting of the implementation of that plan. Therefore Transport for Melbourne proposes the following draft Charter:

  1. The Government of Victoria should implement the Transport Integration Act (2010) by adopting a mobility plan for Melbourne which includes the integration of train, tram and bus services.
  2. The mobility plan must give absolute priority to the needs of the customer, and must seek to attract new customers away from the car.
  3. The customer focus demands clear, uniform and universally available real-time information about train, tram and bus routes and timetables, so that at any point in the system, a potential customer knows precisely what service goes to which destinations and when — and how and where to connect with other services across the network.
  4.  The public transport system should be designed to provide high-frequency services across the whole Melbourne metropolitan region, linking trains, trams and buses with cycling and walking connections.
  5. In those areas of low population density that cannot support high-frequency train services (at less than 15 minute intervals), the timetables of trains and buses should be linked to enable rapid interchange between trains and feeder bus services. There should be no more than 5 minutes between the arrival of a local bus and the departure of the connecting service (train, tram or fast bus).
  6. A metropolitan mobility plan requires comprehensive redesign and investment to create rapid and large-scale improvements to the bus services, the only mode of public transport that can provide a high-frequency service to outer Melbourne. This means:
      1. providing a service with completely dependable routes and timetables;
      2. simple, accurate information on bus service destinations;
      3. speeding up current bus services by means of route and timetable redesign;
      4. using new bus capacity to fill service gaps and improve frequencies;
      5. providing road priority for buses to achieve faster travel times; and,
      6. linking buses with trains, trams and local activity centres via route redesign and timetable coordination.
  7.  Information about public transport routes and timetables must be easy to obtain at every stop, uniform in presentation and easy to understand.
  8. There should be a medium-term plan to improve the metropolitan heavy rail service on the basis of 21st-century infrastructure for tracks, signalling and interchange stations. Today’s basic operational infrastructure is obsolete and dysfunctional. Track conditions need to be radically improved. The signalling system must be upgraded for best practice reliability and high capacity. There must be rolling investment in station redesign to make stations attractive to the public and efficient for train handling.
  9.  Road space needs to be made available to speed up trams, provide tram and bus priority in mixed traffic, bus-only lanes and safe cycle paths.
  10. A plan to serve projected cycling needs across metropolitan Melbourne should drive new investment in bicycle infrastructure, putting safety for cyclists first, filling gaps in the bike path network, improved safety on the local road network, providing improved signalling at intersections, and secure storage at train stations.
  11. Implementation of the service plan requires reform of Public Transport Victoria, whose purpose should be clearly stated as follows:

    The purpose of Public Transport Victoria is to develop and deliver a service across the whole transport network that meets agreed service standards in order to facilitate integrated and seamless travel within and between different modes of transport, as legislated in the Transport Integration Act.

  12. The service plan should be generated by a dedicated team with executive authority to ensure full implementation. The team should be led by and comprised of experts with demonstrated ability to plan and reform high-performance and high-efficiency public transport networks, such as for example, in Zurich, Hamburg or Munich.