Peter Parker

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - australasia, planning - service improvement, planning - service quality


service planning, buses, networks, patronage


After fifteen years of little change, Melbourne’s bus services have altered significantly in the last five years. Underpinned by policy that supports greater public transport use, reform was driven by three major government programs; SmartBus, minimum standards upgrades and local area service reviews. This paper briefly compares the distribution of each service initiative. Minimum standards upgrades were most widespread, benefiting many middle and outer suburbs. Middle suburbs gained most from SmartBus, especially the City of Manningham where it operates on city as well as orbital routes. And the service reviews were most influential in fringe areas to the west, north and south east. Evaluating the quality of service planning in Melbourne, based on the implementation of recent reviews, is the paper’s main focus. Revised timetables were compared against good planning practice. Significant potential for improved network legibility, efficiency, connectivity with trains and scheduling of multi-route corridors was found and could warrant further work. The extent to which interplay between each program has shaped local networks is also examined. Sometimes programs worked in concert, improving both legibility and service. Other times new routes were simply overlaid on the existing network, reducing legibility and potentially wasting resources. Cases where successful lobbying for marginal routes, unsupported by any program, may have further lowered efficiency are also discussed. The paper concludes that Melbourne has seen significant recent bus service improvements. However it also finds that the quality of service planning has varied and that a more effective network may be possible within existing resources.