Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Timetable Tuesday #55: Hot waits - where summer timetable cuts make catching buses a misery

Today some Melbourne bus routes are operating on a reduced service. 15 or 20 years ago it would have been a lot more. For at one time it was customary for bus routes to operate a reduced timetable for a few weeks over December - January when commuter demand falls. 

While this practice saved money it confused those who did travel. And it required a substantial information campaign to warn passengers beforehand. Of course it didn't reach everyone and there were passengers inconvenienced by the reduced timetables. 

A welcome consequence of the 2006 - 2010 minimum standards upgrades were that they usually deleted holiday timetables. Instead the same services would run all year (apart from some school day only trips). This made buses easier to use and reduced the risk of passengers being caught out by non-standard timetables and operating patterns over summer and on public holidays (which exist on those routes that didn't get upgrades). Old post on this from 2011 here.

Unfortunately these upgrades were not well targeted. There were only tenuous links between a bus route's patronage and whether it got service upgrades or had its irregular timetables rectified. Hence, while many minor routes had their summer timetables removed, some of our most used routes still cut service over summer. Combined with non-standard public holiday patterns and heat-related rail network breakdowns, summer timetables make public transport at this time of year confusing and unreliable.    

A newer treatise on summer timetables is on the BCSV site at http://bcsv.org.au/vm/2016-12-to-2017-01-christmas-new-year-timetable-changes/ . That was written a couple of years ago. Today I'll summarise some salient points from it and add other comments. 

Kastoria routes 475 and 501 cut their peak service over December/January. 475 peak service, for example, reduces from every 20 to every 40 minutes until 11 January. However with a bus network review under way and new routes to start next year this summer is likely to be the last with a reduced timetable.  

Moonee Valley routes 503 and 506 also have reduced service over summer. 506 has the biggest cuts, with peak service dropping from every 10 - 15 min to every 20 min, again until January 11. 503 also cops a reduction in operating hours. The 503 and 506 summer timetables, along with restricted operating hours and schedules virtually unchanged for decades illustrate the extent to which both these routes are frozen in time, despite their potential to attract patronage across Melbourne's inner north. 

At one time Route 605 had several timetable quirks. For example it never got upgrades to minimum standards. Its Sunday service started late in the morning. And certain trips did not run for approx. 3 or 4 weeks after Boxing Day. However PTV's website is showing a full timetable throughout this period. So it would appear 605 no longer cuts service over summer. However its operating hours are short with an unusually late Sunday start and low Sunday frequency.

At least two busy Ventura routes have summer timetables. Most notable is the 733, one of Melbourne's busiest bus routes (which deserves to be a 7-day frequent SmartBus). Peak period waits  can blow out from 15 to over 30 minutes. Services are cut for four weeks but PTV provides conflicting advice on when this period starts and finishes. 

Also reduced in the Box Hill area are the two Deakin Uni - Box Hill shuttles (201 and 768). They're basically an embarrassment where two routes run instead of one, with differing holiday patterns adding confusion. 

On the bright side of the ledger is the 788 down the Mornington Peninsula. Its summer timetable actually has increased service. Instead of running every 60 - 80 minutes, weekend buses are every 40 minutes for about a month from Christmas Day. However this remains insufficient for demand, which is high from Schoolies week to the end of summer. 

Also worth noting is the temporary 700 shopper shuttle from Oakleigh to Chadstone, somewhat hobbled by the current works at the station. And of course tonight there will be enhanced New Years Eve services on trains and trams. As well as some Doncaster area buses eg 907.

Trams also cut their service on a few weekdays days between Christmas and New Year. The approach here is to run a Saturday frequency. Although that would mean a service upgrade on Tram 82, which oddly has a better weekend than weekday service.

Reduced summer timetables on buses are one of the things that trip bus passengers up and make travel confusing. As there's few left, scrapping those remaining on less frequent residential area routes, would be fairly cheap to do. One might also query the tram cuts, given scenes like below:

That's my thoughts. What do you think? Maybe there is a place for summer timetables, as some routes are genuinely quiet, especially over the Christmas - New Years Day period. Or, would it be OK to trim service only on frequent routes where you'd still have a turn-up-and-go service after the summer cut? And what about trains, where an intensive peak service runs despite low usage on some days? That deserves a future post. In the meantime, please leave your ideas about summer timetables in the comments below. 

PS: An index to all Timetable Tuesday items is here.

PPS: This is the last post for 2019. Thanks for your readership, comments and support and see you all in 2020!

You might enjoy these well-regarded books on transport topics

Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit Steven Higashide NEW!

The Public City: Essays in honour of Paul Mees Gleeson & Beza

A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, Institutions (Access Quintet Book 4) David Levinson

Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives Jarrett Walker

Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age Paul Mees

(Sales links: I get a small commission if you buy via the above - no extra cost to you)

Monday, December 30, 2019

10 years of myki

Daniel Bowen reminds us that yesterday marks ten years since myki commencing public operation on Melbourne's train network.

Here's a video I made back in September 2009. At that time myki was in use on buses in regional areas including Geelong. Also note the short-lived paper disposable myki tickets.

You might enjoy these well-regarded books on transport topics

Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit Steven Higashide NEW!

The Public City: Essays in honour of Paul Mees Gleeson & Beza

A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, Institutions (Access Quintet Book 4) David Levinson

Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives Jarrett Walker

Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age Paul Mees

(Sales links: I get a small commission if you buy via the above - no extra cost to you)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Politicians talking transport: Extracts from Hansard

They don't always make the metropolitan-wide news. But extracts from speeches and answers to questions are a way of finding out what's happening in particular areas. Especially in transport. Here's a few links to recent Hansard items, mostly on bus services. 

Search on key words to find the item. 
31/10/2019: Return of buses to Young St Frankston (near station)

It is known that some politicians (or their staffers) read Melbourne on Transit

If I'm missing one of your questions or replies please include a link in the comments below.

For what politicians talked about more than ten years ago, see this similar post from 2006 though most of the links are now dead (Parliament doesn't seem good at providing long-term stable links). 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Timetable Tuesday #54: Bus 431 the dead end loop route

How long should a one-bus route be? One answer is however far out you can go with one bus and return to the terminus by the time the next departure is due in 30 or 60 minutes time. 

Or, if you already know the route that's needed, is to run the highest frequency possible with a given number of available buses. Whether the frequency chosen aligns with trains and/or is an even clockface figure is secondary.  

Instances of both are found around Melbourne. They are remnants of old-style scheduling which in turn reflect history of small family bus companies running a few routes each. Bus companies have got fewer and bigger but old practices remain, even on relatively new routes. 

Today's route, the 431 from well-served Yarraville to lesser-served Kingsville is an example. It runs roughly east-west. It runs from Yarraville, where there are shops and a station, to a residential area otherwise remote from facilities and services. Its western end forms a loop that it goes around before returning to Yarraville. 

The map is below:  

This is not to scale. You can see how it fits in with other routes on the network map below.

Because there isn't anything at its western terminus the route is strictly a Yarraville station feeder. Counter peak patronage would be very low. This is unlike more efficient routes which run between two stations where peak loadings exist in both directions at both ends of the day.  Usage is about average for a Melbourne bus route on weekdays (24 passenger boardings per bus service hour) but low on Saturdays (13 boardings per hour). 

Route 431 is a product of a bus review around 10 years ago. Before then the bus network was even more complicated than it is now and it was difficult to reach major shopping centres like Altona Gate or interchanges like Newport. The review led to some routes (eg 432) getting minimum standards upgrades while the shorter 431 missed out. Before the 431 there were other (also short) routes like the 429 and 430 serving the area. Route 431 operates in the electoral district of Williamstown, held by public transport minister Melissa Horne MP. 


Despite its relative newness, Route 431 has operating hours reflecting the pre-minimum standards 1990s era which was a low point for bus services in Melbourne. That is finishes at 6 or 7pm and no Sunday service. However unlike many other 6 day routes there is service on some public holidays.

Service frequency is a flat 30 minutes from first to last trip at all times the bus runs. Run time is also flat. There appears to be no layover time in the public timetable at either end but in practice the bus might arrive slightly early.

The timetable below shows trips from Yarraville only. A similar service level applies for inbound trips.

What about coordination with trains? When the 431 first started there wasn't any. This was because Yarraville just had trains every 20 minutes off-peak and the 431 was every 30 minutes. Then Yarraville gained a 10 minute off-peak train service interpeak on weekdays, harmonising with the 431. However connections only repeat hourly on Saturdays as trains then are still on 20 minute headways. 


What do you think about Route 431? Is it a good route or should it be straightened to feed a terminus like Tottenham Station or even Highpoint via Ashley St so it becomes useful in both directions? Should its timetables be harmonised with trains, even if it means dropping to every 40 minutes on Saturdays? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Wish List: Ten Christmas presents the network needs

Christmas is in three days.

The public transport network rarely speaks for itself. The Department of Transport and (indirectly) operators are on the government payroll so aren't as free as those outside to publicly advocate what the network needs. With the Andrews government dogged by cost blowouts on its infrastructure projects and strikes hurting service delivery, we haven't heard much on its longer term plans for public transport services.

To fill the gap here's a Christmas wish list for Melbourne's public transport network. None of it is achieveable this Christmas, but most should be doable in four or five Christmases from now. Work on them needs to start now if the government is to have more immediate positive stories to tell about transport or the opposition wishes to seize the momentum on a portfolio that's weaker for the government than six or twelve months ago. 

Even North American cities not known for their transit do better than us. The Europeans and Sydneysiders beat us hands down. Even Perth can claim superiority. I'm talking about service frequencies on our suburban train network. Even our busiest lines drop to every half hour at night and 40 to 60 minutes on Sunday mornings when substantial demand remains.  

It didn't used to be like this; trains on most lines used to run every 20 minutes on Monday to Saturday nights until last service. Massive service cuts in 1978 ended that. Except for Sundays, the cuts have remained unreversed on most lines despite our city's population and train patronage doubling since. 

A service upgrade would use the same fleet but work it harder. A staged program could enable gradual improvement until Metro and Geelong trains are never more than 20 minutes apart. Possibly starting with weeknight and weekend service until 9 or 10 pm, then extending to last service in later stages.

Two hours extra of 20 rather than 30 minute evening service on our Metro trains requires just two more return trips per day per line. And boosting Sunday mornings to every 20 minutes for two hours needs just two or three more return trips per week. Almost nothing in the whole scheme of things.

Trams just need attention to Sunday morning and evening services while weekends are the major priority for busy weekend bus routes such as 150, 279, 302/304, 508, 630, 703 (part), 733, 737, 767, 800, 900, 901 (part), 902 (part) and 903 (part).

The result would be a far more useful network with easier connections between services and flexibility for different trip types. Once done attention can then shift to rolling out 10 minute frequencies on the network's core.

We're falling behind on the conversion of the tram fleet to be fully accessible. And trams can get so crowded that passengers are left behind. Our city is growing and densifying but our tram fleet and service levels aren't keeping up. More trams would address this and create local jobs. 

Melbourne's bus service provision is patchy with some routes having more service than they need and others having less than patronage would justify. Here's my list of 13 well-used bus routes that most need Sunday service. A great job creator that helps us get more from our existing blus fleet. 

Melbourne is notoriously poor at this. You alight a bus at somewhere like Monash Uni or Chadstone with the intent of changing to another bus. But where do you go? More often than not you won't know. You may have to traipse all the entrance of the interchange to find maps or directional signage. And in the process potentially miss your bus. Railway stations, even new ones, often have next to no bus information. Simple maps and interchange guides at every station and bus bay would solve this and at minimal cost.

There's lots of talk about rail options to the airport. But there's stuff we can do now for the price of several buses that would greatly slash travel times from many western suburbs. Key is a direct bus from Melbourne Airport to Sunshine operating every 20 minutes or better 7 days per week over long hours. In conjunction with stopping Bendigo trains at Sunshine and upgrading frequencies of trains to Watergardens, Melton and Geelong this would greatly boost connectivity from regional and suburban areas to Melbourne Airport, the CBD, Footscray, Sunshine and other key destinations. A few million each year on these service upgrades would quickly deliver maybe half the benefit of airport rail at a tiny fraction of the cost. 

It's the season for unwrapping things. And we should be permanently banning window cover advertisements on our trains, trams and buses. Then people will be able to see out to find their stops. There will also be better passive surveillance, improved exposure for businesses along the way and even fewer headaches. There's foregone advertising revenue but the passenger experience benefits will be worth it. 

Melbourne's trams are close to the slowest in the world (although Sydney's new system offers stiff competition). Prioritising their movement where they share the road with cars would improve their usefulness and allow a faster, more reliable and more frequent service.


The more people can walk to a station the more patronage it will attract, other things being equal. Some stations only have entrances at one end of the platform, resulting in unnecessarily long walks. Opening up station platforms to be accessible from both ends can increase a station's pedshed and thus its potential catchment for a fraction of the cost of building extra stations.

Friday Useful Network items are packed with ideas to make buses more useful and easier to use. Proposals include more direct routes, timetable connectivity with trains, higher frequencies and less duplication of services.

There's many reasons why you'd want to do this. One of the key ones is to boost employment participation and improve peoples commutes, as discussed in this Jobseeker Inquiry submission.

100 to 200 new buses and 400 to 800 more driver jobs created would deliver transformed bus networks throughout Melbourne, benefiting catchments of millions with improved fringe coverage. Even one-tenth that number could deliver network and service upgrades to high priority areas. And, if Scrooge comes knocking, network reform can deliver some great improvements with no extra buses needed if wasteful service duplication is pruned. Abolishing reduced summer timetables on the few bus routes that still have them, fully standardising public holiday schedules and adding afternoon service to routes that finish midday Saturdays are further cheap upgrades.

If passengers can't reach stops they won't use public transport. High car traffic speeds and volumes is a major impediment in many areas. Agencies like Vicroads, whose mission has been to maximise car traffic throughput, have tended to regard pedestrians (and public transport users) as inconveniences rather than people with legitimate transport needs.

Hence roads often have excessive turning radii, unnecessary slip lanes, long gaps between signalised crossings and roundabouts that keep pedestrians stranded indefinitely. The cure is a program, pursued with no less vigour than the current level crossing removals, to replace roundabouts with signalised intersections on busier roads and install raised paths and zebra crossings across quieter streets. The aim could be to achieve easy pedestrian access to every tram and bus stop at any time of the day within four years.

OK, so none of this will happen by this Christmas. And getting two done by next Christmas would appear a miracle. But doing most by five Christmases time would transform public transport. Probably by as much if not more than the Metro Tunnel at a fraction of the cost and risk.

Yes, finding funding is an issue. But it's less an issue than political will and a willingness to shift resources to where they'd have greater benefit. For comparison, the cost of one level crossing removal could fund a year's worth of massive service upgrades across the whole network well beyond everything listed above. Ten level crossing removals would do the same for a decade. Similar comments apply to new freeways and (to a lesser extent) boondoggles within public transport such as the 'Free' Tram Zone and duplicative bus routes.

What are you thoughts? I'd enjoy reading them so please leave them in the comments below and have a great Christmas and new year.

You might enjoy these well-regarded books on transport topics

Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit Steven Higashide NEW!

The Public City: Essays in honour of Paul Mees Gleeson & Beza

A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, Institutions (Access Quintet Book 4) David Levinson

Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives Jarrett Walker

Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age Paul Mees

(Sales links: I get a small commission if you buy via the above - no extra cost to you)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Building Melbourne's Useful Network: Part 33 - The Fishing Useful Network

This government is big on fishing. Fishing is administered by the same department that plans roads, trains, trams and buses. This explains why their latest strategic plan has fragments on fishing. Fishing is taken so seriously that there's even a participation target for the sport - Target 1 Million - contrasting with the absence of similar targets for public transport, walking or cycling. 

Boosting fishing is a stroke of political genius for state Labor. Appealing to family, suburban and regional outdoors types, it culturally differentiates the ALP from Greens (and vegans). Critically, some who fish also hunt, shoot, and bush-bash. Labor quietly walks a fine line on the latter, tolerating but not warmly embracing them. Vocal support would endanger votes or preferences from the (mostly urban) environmentally minded. Whereas fishing presents no such political problems and can be safely and loudly supported. 

What about boating? Andrews Labor loudly spruiks their scrapping of launching ramp parking fees. That's a practical (and not hugely expensive) demonstration that Labor accepts people keeping the fruits of their success and is not pursuing a hard redistributory agenda. While the latter excites party members, it risks scaring the 'middle ground' that decides election results. Eg your suburban home-owning tradie who has (or wants) a boat but doesn't care much for opera or literary festivals. 

An eagerness to present as culturally blue-collar mainstream (and not elite) is the context in which policies like love for fishing, free camping and the AFL Friday holiday start to make sense. Now you know why Victorian Labor legalised cage fighting and won't touch gambling, hunting and greyhound racing (which patrician North-shore Sydney Liberals briefly had banned in NSW before a major backlash). The electoral failures of Labo(u)r parties nationally and internationally will only firm Andrews Labor's support for blue-collar recreations, a price accepted through gritted teeth by its degreed activists who withhold sneers in return for power.

It's the 'bread and circuses' thing practised by both sides of politics. On the Coalition side, premier Denis Napthine's passion was horse racing, especially country racing. It showed through the attention it got in media releases. I think there were some special public transport services put on for country races. With stakes in multiple horses, Napthine was possibly the most racing-oriented premier since Henry Bolte. One of the tales about Bolte (not sure if true) is that he approved the Melbourne Underground Railway Loop  (in an otherwise lean time for public transport projects) when it was pointed out that it would speed access from Parliament to Caulfield Race Course. The point is that popular sports like fishing and racing can possibly shape public transport networks, services and promotion.  

Apparently PTV didn't get the memo. Unlike entrepreneurial UK private rail operators they are commercially pallid with no apparent patronage growth target. And rarely does the passenger information and marketing that is done embrace many ordinary peoples' pastimes, especially those enjoyed away from the CBD. 

Hence there's no Fishing Network Map on the website. If London can do a map showing where the cheapest pubs by the Tube are, we should be able to show where you can get to fishing spots by public transport. Especially given that they're now administered by the same department that has a growth agenda for the sport. 

Then there's the service aspects. If you go back to Melbourne on Transit posts from a decade ago you'll see things mentioned there (like some bus route reforms) that have happened. 

It's in this spirit that I devote today's Useful Network to service improvements that support participation in fishing. The Fishing Useful Network.  You never know some things mentioned today might eventually happen. Possibly led by interest in fishing participation more than transport.  

This is not to be sneezed at. After all public transport service isn't something run for its own sake but rather an enabler that helps people do more of what they wish to do. Today I'm talking about fishing. But if you substitute jobs and education these too can be enabled by good transport services such as I covered here.  

A fishing transport study

A fishing transport study requires us to look at where and when people fish. The latter seems easiest so we'll sort that out first. Walk down any popular pier and see when it's hardest to find a space amongst the rods and bait boxes. Visit again at dusk and early morning. You'll still see fisherpeople there. So a transport system that meets fishers' needs must operate frequently at those times. It's all about movement and plaice. 

Remember Target 1 Million? Target 1.5 Million would be better. We are seeking to dramatically grow fishing among all age groups. And that means a war on the impediments to it. With cars likely to queue half way to Dandenong since they scrapped boat launching ramp parking fees, public transport is key to boosting participation further. 

What about location? Where are the best fishing spots around Melbourne? Everyone's got an opinion so we didn't need to do much work. Weekend Notes presents ideas here. More from We are Explorers. Also Fishing Mad

Priorities for the Fishing Public Transport Network (FPTN)

1. Metro train service upgrades. More than any other capital, Melbourne's train lines hug the coast and thus fishing spots. Train carriages are great for accommodating long fishing rods and tackle boxes. And the coming Melbourne airport rail will deliver fishing tourists from plane to pier within an hour. 

A Fishing Public Transport Network plan should see the following high priority service improvements: 

(i) Early Saturday and (particularly) Sunday morning trains upgraded from every 30, 40 or 60 minutes to every 20 minutes, starting at 5am, on the Werribee/Altona, Williamstown, Sandringham and Frankston lines. 

(ii) 6 - 10pm Saturday and Sunday evening frequencies upgraded from every 30 to every 20 minutes on the Werribee/Altona, Williamstown and Frankston lines. This will make it easier to get home from those summer solstice fishing expeditions.

2. V/Line train service upgrades. There's some great fishing spots in regional Victoria. Improved trains will help people get there.  Here are some:

(i) Better travel to Cunningham Pier with Geelong trains upgraded to run every 20 minutes on weekends. This is a doubling of the current 40 minute weekend frequency that often sees people crammed in like sardines.

(ii) Improved access to the Port of Sale. Instead of terminating at Traralgon, more weekend trains will extend to Sale and Bairnsdale. Connecting buses to the 90 Mile Beach will also be improved to connect with each train. 

(iii) Five trains per day (including weekends) to run to Warrnambool.

(iv) More trains and connecting coaches to the Murray River. In conjunction with Bendigo line upgrades, Echuca Fast Rail will cut Murray River to Melbourne travel time by an hour and boost frequency to six trains per day. Another six will run to Swan Hill as an Integrated Transit Solution for Mildura (which will get coaches meeting each train). More trains will improve regional travel and save people from being stung by high fuel prices.

3. Upgrades to key bus routes to fishing spots:

(i) Major upgrade to Route 788 on weekends serving most of the Mornington Peninsula. Weekend frequency boosted from every 80 to every 20 - 30 minutes year round. Longer operating hours, with earlier starts on weekends.

(ii) Route 782 extended to Flinders 7 days per week

(iii) Upgrades to cross-Yarra bus routes to permit easier access to the river from surrounding suburbs. We discussed how to do this a previous Friday when we upgraded La Trobe University's buses.

(iv) Doubled weekend frequency and longer hours on Bellarine Peninsula and Great Ocean Rd buses to increase travel options. The changes recently introduced are good but don't go nearly far enough. 

(v) Route 439 bus improved operating hours and higher frequency for access to Werribee River and beach. 

(vi) Route 708 doubled weekend frequency and an extra stop near the National Watersports Centre to improve access to Patterson River. 

4. Stony Point Phillip Island French Island Integrated Transport (SPPIFIIT). Upgrades to Stony Point Train Line and interisland ferry to provide more and connected trips with every ferry connecting with every train. This will create a new Westernport Wonder fishing experience, connecting piers at Hastings, Stony Point, Tankerton and Cowes.

5. Increased frequency, 7-day service, a larger vessel and improved marketing for the little-known Herring Island Punt: Allows improved near-CBD Yarra River fishing opportunities.

6. Cheaper weekend fares and myki fare integration on the West Gate Punt: Potential weekend CBD extension to a new Flinders St Pier near the station. Latter will also allow a Catch Train, Catch Fish school holiday program for kids, with free travel available to participants. Patronage will be monitored to determine whether a bigger vessel or higher frequency is necessary.  

7. Half price travel for anyone with a fishing rod on the Sorrento - Queenscliffe ferry: Timed to connect to buses to Geelong for the ultimate pier to pier fishing and travel experience. Additional trips will see frequency rise to 20 minutes with connections to buses on both sides.  

The more important FUN upgrades around Melbourne are summarised below: 

Other initiatives

In addition to the above the following exciting initiatives should be sufishent to achieve the revised aspirational target of 1.5 million fishers:

1. Turn up & Catch: Restocking allows enough stock for baited hooks to get a bite within 10 min 90% of the time at 90% of designated locations. The Fisheries website will report performance each month. Then there's Victoria's exclusive No Fish, No Pay policy that gives holders of fishing licences refunds on each month that restocking performance is below standard. 

2. PT2Fish: 90% of metropolitan and major regional fishing spots to have 7-day public transport within 400m. Community groups will be able to nominate network gaps and bid for local tailor-made transport solutions grants in a 'Pick my Project' style program managed by John Dory. Results announced before the next election. 

3. Mybait: Train stations near rivers and bays to have bait vending machines, payable with myki money by 2021. Unfortunately an earlier proposal to allow unused burley to be converted to myki money clogged up the machines so will not now proceed. 

4. Space for rods: Last carriage of trains will have dedicated spots for fishing rods. Exact location up for public debait. Contact Ray to learn more. 

5. Fish & Go: Showing a fishing licence entitles free Sunday travel on regional coaches as a regional tourism initiative. Special day fishing licences shall be available for a gold coin fee ($2 full, $1 concession) at all staffed train stations. No Fish No Pay refunds available at the station on the way back if you catch nothing. 

6. Drive 'n' Fish: Fishing from your car. 2021 State budget will fund 20 pilot drive 'n' fish sites around the state to be operational by spring 2022. Fishers will be able to fish without leaving their car. Free barbecue hotplates at car window heights will also allow cooking without leaving the car.

7. Kidfish: It's good to start them young. There will be free fishing licences mailed to every child who attends 3 year old kinder (another signature Andrews government policy). Accompanying parents or guardians will qualify for half price licences. Even if this does not increase participation it will boost the number of licences which is worthwhile for data keeping and reporting purposes.  

8. Taste of Fish: Those physically unable to fish will be mailed two Free Fish vouchers per year. They will be redeemable at any fish and chip shop in the state. Please explain. The idea is that when more people see their friends eating fish they will get the urge to go fishing themselves, thus aiding Target 1 (now 1.5) Million objectives. 

9. Transbay Hovercraft Metro: This is truly transformative. It caters for those who would like to fish at multiple locations around the bay in a day. And the air shuttle component makes it possible to offer Melbourne weekend fishing holidays from Singapore and Shanghai especially if no-terminal tarmac transfers are available. 

How does it work? We first of all buy end-of-service aircraft carriers to moor in the middle of Port Phillip. Ideally we'd want them to throw in the planes as these will be useful to provide  air shuttles to Avalon, Tullamarine and Moorabbin.  

The carriers will have piers constructed to allow direct fishing from them. They will also form a mid-route terminus for a hovercraft metro serving multiple locations around the bay. There would eventually be six express hovercraft lines and a local Mornington Peninsula line. Each line would operate every half hour, with all arrivals at :25 and :55 and all departures at :30 and :00. This efficient timed transfer network will allow easy connections to any destination. 

The aircraft carrier will host all-weather entertainments and a fishing discovery centre. Accommodation could be made available for school, youth and tour groups at subsidised rates. People with private boats and helicopters will be able to dock. There will be swimming trials. There is potential to use the hub for a weekday CBD, Geelong, Bellarine and Mornington Peninsula commuter network. And departing the Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race from the hub is guaranteed to set time records tumbling.  

The Transbay Hovercraft Metro is a long-term project for the 2030s and beyond. But it's the sort of thing we should be thinking about if we are serious about achieving a revised target of 3 million participating in  fishing.  


Increasing fishing's take-up is a key government objective. Its success requires a concerted whole of government approach. Or at least a whole of department approach. Cooperation up and down floors and across partitions is critical. 

Given that it already goes near many fishing sites, public transport is a major untapped resource in helping to get 1.5 million Victorians to fish. The Fishing Public Transport Strategy and the Fishing Useful Network proposed here are core to the delivery of key strategic goals of higher fishing participation. 

Better public transport service is a welcome byproduct. In this regard it will be seen that this whole-of-department Fishing Public Transport Network Plan is both bolder and has a higher chance of government buy-in than any other transport strategy issued to date. The best thing a departmental transport planner can do this holiday break is to grab a rod and drop a line. Then they can return next year breaming with ideas with the sole purpose of making the Fishing Useful Network a reality.   

An index to all Useful Networks is here.

PS: This is the last 'Useful Network' for 2019. It will resume in 2020. Other postings here, like some bus routes, will be at reduced frequency until mid-January. 

You might enjoy these well-regarded books on transport topics

Better Buses, Better Cities: How to Plan, Run, and Win the Fight for Effective Transit Steven Higashide NEW!

The Public City: Essays in honour of Paul Mees Gleeson & Beza

A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, Institutions (Access Quintet Book 4) David Levinson

Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives Jarrett Walker

Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age Paul Mees

(Sales links: I get a small commission if you buy via the above - no extra cost to you)