In an ideal world, you would hope that when a new estate is settled, they’d provide good quality public transport into it from day one, so that people don’t move in and establish car-oriented travel patterns (eg buy one car per adult, and from thence-forth drive everywhere).
Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. The Aurora Estate (north of Epping), supposedly the model of green suburbs, was meant to get a train line, but hasn’t yet. Amusingly VicUrban claimed this was no problem: “Aligned with the 2030 planning principles, Aurora has had a bus service since inception”.
Yeeees. That bus service is the 575. It runs hourly, even in peak hours. It stops at 7:30pm. On Saturdays it stops at lunchtime. On Sundays it doesn’t run at all.
Hint: that is nowhere near good enough to encourage people to not drive.
Over in Edgewater, which thanks to dog walks with Marita I’ve seen develop from a flat pile of dirt (as it still mostly appears in Google Maps’ satellite pictures) to an almost fully-occupied estate, apart from the nearby 472, they’ve also just got the 409 bus. Thankfully it’s a tad better than what the good people of Aurora got: it actually runs 7-days-a-week until after 9pm.
But it’s still lacking, both in service quality and launch publicity.
1. It only runs every 40 minutes. Even in peak hour. Not great.
2. They put the new bus stop signs in, but nobody got the council to allocate bus zones for the bus stops, so they’d be guaranteed somewhere to stop.
3. The new 409 and the existing 472 both go from Footscray via the local school then past the Edgewater cricket club. But they take different routes to get there, and they appear to depart from different stops at/near Footscray station. And ideally they’d be timed to alternate along the common part of the route to cut waiting times.
4. Evidently they didn’t tell anybody in Edgewater about the new route. Instead of doing a letter-box drop “Hey! You’ve got a new bus service! Here’s the timetable, and a couple of complimentary tickets so you can try it out!” or a big advert in the local paper, they’ve relied on word-of-mouth. And we all know how well that works.
None of this is very hard to do. Some of it costs real money, that’s true. But it can turn something that’s merely ordinary into something genuinely worthwhile and beneficial.
On the bright side, at least the new Edgewater bus hasn’t been met with the outright hostility the residents of Yarraville and Altona have been dishing out. Some of them, having ignored the community consultation phase, were outraged to have buses going down their streets, and have set up blockades! (Someone should tell them that public transport access adds value to their properties… though that’s specifically trams and
buses trains… a topic for another post.)
In the Altona case, maybe those protesting should spare a thought for the residents of the local retirement village, now disappointed to find the new bus service has been canned. And maybe they should hope and pray that they are never dependent on public transport.