Inclusive planning process for citywide bus network restructuring

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - australasia, planning - network design, planning - route design, planning - service rationalisation, technology - geographic information systems


planning, bus network, restructuring, inclusive design, GIS


Despite an overwhelming case for the redevelopment of historically based bus networks, reviews are difficult to implement because of limited funding, equity concerns, complex technical challenges, difficulty in communicating technical issues to stakeholders, and potential displacement of existing users. This paper describes a bus network review process designed in Melbourne, Australia, to address these issues. The process adopts evidence-based planning and achieves a consensus of outcomes by using an inclusive design process with advanced analysis tools to communicate technical issues effectively to a nontechnical audience. Previous research does not directly address the practical implementation of bus review processes and tends either to focus on short-term bus planning approaches or to consider theoretical applications with limited practical value. The bus network review process developed is based on strategic studies aimed at opportunities to grow bus markets. The process is highly consultative to build stakeholder buy-in and adopts a two-stage program of (a) problem identification inputs and (b) draft network review inputs using nominal group techniques to ensure inclusive participation and quantification of outputs. The review process uses a simple-to-understand hierarchy approach to review services including assessment of access, time factors, ease of use, safety, and awareness. Graphical techniques including geographic information systems are adopted for clear and simple presentation of technical outputs. The process has been powerful in building buy-in and has resulted in A1.4 billion (US1.3 billion) of investment in improved services with high ridership growth outcomes. Experience and effects, including areas for future research, are outlined.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by TRB, copyright remains with them