You might assume that it’s only new outer suburbs where public transport services are half-baked.
But it can also be the case in new inner suburbs.
Edgewater is on the Maribyrnong River, opposite Flemington Racecourse, about 6km from the GPO. It’s former Commonwealth land which included the Footscray Ammunition Factory, and was developed over the last 15 years or so.
Now it’s mostly townhouses, but also apartment blocks of up to 8 storeys. Some of those blocks have retail in the ground floor.
I’m not sure if you’d call this medium density or high density, but there are plenty of people living here.
There is one public transport route through the estate: the 409 bus from Yarraville via Footscray to Highpoint Shopping Centre.
It’s good that the estate has a bus service. The problem is how often it runs.
- Peak hour: every 40 minutes
- Weekday daytime: every 40 minutes
- Weekend daytime: every 40 minutes
- Evenings: every 40 minutes
The last bus is just after 9pm.
Do they really expect people who have been able to afford to move into a brand new house or apartment to choose to use a bus service that runs every 40 minutes? Or will everybody just drive?
There are other routes skirting the edge of the estate.
Tram 82 and buses 472 and 406 all run nearby – these all run more frequently, about every 15-20 minutes during daytime Monday to Saturday. Only the tram offers a half-decent Sunday service, and it’s also the only one of them running after 10pm.
The presence of these more frequent service is in line with the long-running Melbourne theme: if your suburb was developed before about 1930, it probably has useable public transport. If afterwards, it probably doesn’t.
People might be prepared to walk to the more frequent services. Perhaps a third of homes are within 500 metres of route 82 and route 406 (up a steep hill), and another third within 500 metres of route 472.
But for most residents, the infrequent 409 is the closest route.
Yes, if you simply add a route serving one specific area into an existing network without changing anything else , there are complications including the likelihood of duplication.
(If done well, the duplication can provide high frequency on the shared part of the route. This didn’t happen with the 409 – its route to Footscray is different to the 82, 472 and the 406, and they depart from different stops at Footscray.)
On the bright side, at least the government did introduce route 409 when the estate was relatively young and people were still moving in.
But… a bus every 40 minutes through a medium density inner suburb. Is this good enough? And why is it that just about every public transport service in every new suburb is so underwhelming?
When will we see new estates provided with public transport that people actually want to use?