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Are better buses the solution to traffic woes as Melbourne’s density doubles?

It is time to get on with giving Melbourne’s established suburbs a better bus network

On Tuesday the Victorian State Government began the process in setting housing targets for each Local Government Area. These draft targets indicate that the Government is coming to realise what has been obvious for many decades: endless car-oriented suburban sprawl is not environmentally or financially sustainable. However, growth in established suburbs must be supported by increased and reformed bus services.

In most established LGAs, the Government proposes nearly doubling the dwellings. For instance, in Brimbank, their draft target represents an extra 72,000 homes on top of the existing 73,000. To support the transport needs of these future residents, it will be impossible to rely on cars due to the already constrained road space. Instead, buses provide the best solution. 

“We can’t build 20 more North-East Links, but we can get more buses on better routes for a fraction of the cost”, said Sustainable Cities spokesperson Adam Bain. “Connected to an improved tram and train system, a better bus network can provide the bedrock for the transport needs of our growing city”

But history has shown that we have failed to keep bus services up to population growth. Instead of falling behind with residents even more dependent on expensive cars stuck in traffic, we must break the cycle and get ahead of the population growth by planning and implementing the buses before new residents move in.

The final targets will provide a blueprint on where we need to add more bus services, connecting the projected 2,925,100 new dwellings with jobs, education, businesses and recreation. Although it is daunting, the opportunities gained by fully providing useful buses across the established areas far outweigh the costs.

What is needed is for the state government to fulfil its own bus plan and get on with the job of simplifying and supercharging the bus network. However, the draft targets still indicate that more than a million new dwellings are to be constructed in growth areas. We cannot forget about all the families moving into new estates in desperate need for bus services.

Neither can we neglect the rail system which forms the spokes of the Melbourne transport web. The Metro Tunnel will provide the opportunity to improve train services to Brimbank, and can be supercharged by a better bus network.


For more comment, contact:


Adam Bain - Sustainable Cities Spokesperson

Ph: 0450 475 954     E: [email protected]

Elyse Cunningham - Sustainable Cities Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Melbourne 

Ph: 0421 559 343         E: [email protected]

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