Suburban employment clusters and the journey to work in Australian cities

Sun 8 July, 2018

Relatively dense suburban employment clusters can deliver more knowledge-based jobs closer to people living in the outer suburbs. Sydney has many such clusters, and Melbourne is now aiming to develop “National Employment and Innovation Clusters” as part of the city’s land use strategy, Plan Melbourne.

So what can we learn about existing employment clusters in Australian cities, particularly in regards to journeys to work? Can relatively dense suburban employment clusters contribute to more sustainable transport outcomes? Do such clusters have lower private transport mode shares than other parts of cities? How are mode shares changing for these clusters? How far do people travel to work in these clusters? Is there a relationship between job density, parking prices, and mode shares? How well served are these clusters by public transport? How do these clusters compare between cities?

This post investigates 46 existing clusters in Australia’s six largest cities. This is a longer post (there is a summary at the end), but I hope you find at least half as interesting as I do.

What’s a dense suburban employment cluster?

That’s always going to be an arbitrary matter. For my analysis, I’ve created clusters based on destination zones that had at least 40 employees per hectare in 2011 or 2016, were more than 4km from the city’s main CBD, and where collectively at least around 6,000 employees travelled on census day in 2016.

Unfortunately I can only work with the destination zone boundaries which may or may not tightly wrap around dense employment areas. Also, in order to ensure reasonable comparisons between census years, I’ve had to add in some otherwise non-qualifying zones to keep the footprints fairly similar. To mitigate potential issues with low density zones being included, I’ve used weighted employment density for each cluster in my analysis. But still, please don’t get too excited by differences in weighted job density as it’s far from a perfect representation of reality.

In particular, the following clusters include destination zones comprising both dense employment and non-employment land and so will potentially have understated weighted job density:

  • Nedlands
  • Fremantle
  • Bedford Park
  • Tooronga
  • Camberwell Junction
  • Hawthorn
  • Belconnen
  • Campbelltown
  • Hurstville
  • Kogarah
  • Randwick
  • North Ryde (quite significant – actual density is probably double)
  • Macquarie Park (a destination zone for the university includes large green areas)
  • Rhodes (significant residential area)
  • Parramatta (includes parkland)
  • Penrith (residential areas)
  • Bella Vista – Norwest – Castle Hill (includes a golf course)

Some of these clusters are a little long and thin and so are literally stretching things a little (eg Bella Vista – Norwest – Castle Hill, and Alexandria – Mascot), but it’s hard to cleanly break up these areas.

I think my criteria is a fairly low threshold for suburban employment clusters, but raising the criteria too much would knock out a lot of clusters. I should note that some potential clusters might be excluded simply because they did not contain small destination zones concentrated on more dense areas.

Belmont in Perth was the lowest density cluster to qualify (weighted jobs density of 42 jobs / ha). Here’s what it looks like (in 3D Google Maps in 2018):

Chatswood in Sydney was the highest density cluster – with a weighted job density of 433 jobs / ha. Here’s what it looks like (in 3D Apple Maps in 2018):

Apologies if your favourite cluster didn’t make the criteria, or you don’t like my boundaries. You can look up the 2016 boundaries for each cluster here, or view them all through Google maps.

Where are these clusters?

On the following maps I’ve scaled the clusters by employment size and used pie charts to show the modal split for journeys to work in 2016. All pie charts are to the same scale across the maps (the size of the pie charts is proportional to the number of journeys to the cluster in 2016).

Note that North Sydney is excluded because it is within 4 km of the CBD.

All of Melbourne’s clusters are east of the CBD, with Clayton the largest. Places just missing out on the cluster criteria include parts of the Tullamarine industrial area (5271 jobs at 55 jobs/ha), Doncaster (around 5000 jobs at 40+ jobs/ha), Chadstone Shopping Centre (5375 jobs at 105 jobs/ha), and La Trobe (around 7700 jobs but low density – and even if there was a destination zone tightly surrounding the university campus I suspect it would still not qualify on density ground).

Only three suburban clusters qualified in Brisbane.

Note: the Nedlands and Murdoch clusters are essentially the hospital precincts only and do not include the adjacent university campuses.

Adelaide only has one suburban cluster that qualifies – Bedford Park – which includes the Flinders University campus and Flinders Medical Centre.

The Canberra clusters cover the three largest town centres, each containing at least one major federal government department head office.

What proportion of jobs are in these dense suburban employment clusters?

The following chart shows that Sydney and Canberra have been most successful at locating jobs in suburban employment clusters (well, clusters that meet my arbitrary criteria anyway!):

The proportion of jobs not in the inner 4km or a suburban employment cluster increased between 2011 and 2016 in all cities except Sydney (although the shift was very small in Melbourne).

Here’s a summary of private transport mode shares for the clusters, versus the inner city versus everywhere else:

Inner city mode shares vary considerably between cities, in order of population size. Total job cluster private mode shares are only 4-7% lower than elsewhere in most cities, except for Sydney where they are 17% lower.

Sydney’s clusters combined also have a significantly lower private mode share of 68% – compared to 84-89% in other cities.

How do the clusters compare?

Here is a chart showing their size, distance from CBD, and private transport mode share for journeys to work in 2016:

Next is a chart that looks at weighted job density, size, and private mode share for 2016. Note I’ve used a log scale on the X axis.

(Unfortunately the smaller Kogarah dot is entirely obscured by the larger Alexandria – Mascot dot – sorry that’s just how the data falls)

There is certainly a strong relationship between weighted job density and private mode shares (in fact this is the strongest of all relationships I’ve tested).

Sydney has many more clusters than the other cities (even Melbourne which has a similar population), it has much larger clusters, it has more dense clusters, and accounts for most of the clusters in the bottom-right of the chart.

And there’s just nothing like Parramatta in any other city. It’s large (~41,000 jobs in 2016), has relatively low private transport mode share (51%), is about 20 km from the Sydney CBD, and has a high jobs density.

Melbourne’s Clayton has about three-quarters the jobs of Parramatta, is around the same distance from its CBD, but is much less dense and has 90% private mode share for journeys to work.

Curiously Sydney’s Macquarie Park – which on my boundaries has about the same number of jobs as Parramatta – is closer to the Sydney CBD and has a much higher private transport mode share and a lower job density. However it’s rail service is relatively new, opening in 2009.

Perth’s Joondalup and Murdoch are relatively young transit oriented developments with relatively new train stations (opening 1992 and 2007 respectively), however they also have very high private transport mode shares, which I think highlights the challenge of creating suburban transit-adjacent employments clusters surrounded by low density suburbia.

Also, many of Sydney’s suburban clusters have a lower private mode share than that of the overall city (67.6%). That’s only true of Hawthorn and Camberwell Junction in Melbourne, Fremantle in Perth, and Woden and Belconnen in Canberra.

Some outliers to the top-right of the second chart include Heidelberg (in Melbourne), Liverpool (in Sydney), and Nedlands (in Perth). The Heidelberg and Nedlands clusters are relatively small and are dominated by hospitals, while 37% of jobs in Liverpool are in “health care and social assistance”. Hospitals employ many shift workers, who need to travel at times when public transport is less frequent or non-existent which probably explains their relatively high private transport mode shares. Heidelberg is located on a train line, and is also served by several relatively frequent bus routes, including one “SmartBus” route, but still has a very high private transport mode share of 85%.

Outliers to the bottom-left of the second chart include Randwick, Burwood, and Marrickville (all in Sydney). While these are less dense clusters, I suspect their relatively low private transport mode shares are because they are relatively inner city locations well served by public transport.

As an aside, if you were wondering about the relationship between job density and private mode shares for inner city areas, I think this chart is fairly convincing:

Of course this is not to say if you simply increase job density you’ll magically grow public transport patronage – there has to be capacity and service quality, and you probably won’t get the density increase without better public transport anyway.

How well connected are these job clusters to public transport?

Arguably the presence of rapid public transport is critical to enabling high public transport mode shares, as only rapid services can be time competitive with private transport. By “rapid” I consider services that are mostly separated from traffic, have long stop spacing, and therefore faster average speeds. For Australian cities this is mostly trains, but also some busways and light rail lines (but none of the clusters are served by what I would call “rapid” light rail). Of course there is a spectrum of speeds, including many partly separated tram and bus routes, and limited stops or express bus routes, but these often aren’t time competitive with private cars (they can however compete with parking costs).

I have classified each cluster by their access to rapid transit stations, with trains trumping busways (note Parramatta, Blacktown, Westmead, and Liverpool have both), and some clusters sub-classified as “edge” where only some edge areas of the cluster are within walking distance of a rapid transit station (although that’s not clear cut, eg Murdoch). Here are the public transport mode shares, split by whether journeys involved trains or not:

It’s probably of little surprise that all of the high public transport mode share centres are on train lines (except Randwick), and that most public transport journeys to these clusters involve trains. However the presence of a train station certainly does not guarantee higher public transport mode share.

Only four clusters have some degree of busway access (Chermside and Randwick are not actually on a busway but have a major line to them that uses a busway). Only Upper Mount Gravatt has a central busway stations, and it has the third highest non-train (read: bus) access share of 12%.

Randwick is an interesting exception – the University of New South Wales campus in this cluster is connected to Central (train) Station by high frequency express bus services which seem to win considerable mode share. A light rail connection is being constructed between Randwick and the Sydney CBD.

Non-rail (essentially bus) public transport mode shares are also relatively high in Bondi Junction (15%), Parramatta (11%), Belconnen (10%), Brookvale (10%), Woden (10%), Fremantle (9%), Macquarie Park (9%). These are all relatively strong bus nodes in their city’s networks.

Clayton and Nedlands are not on rapid transit lines, but both have high frequency bus services to nearby train stations which results in slightly higher train mode shares (4% and 5%). For Clayton, only the Monash University campus is connected by a high frequency express bus and it had a 17% public transport mode share, whereas the rest of the cluster had public transport mode shares varying between 3 and 7%.

The Bedford Park cluster is frustratingly just beyond reasonable walking distance of Tonsley Railway Station (12 minutes walk to the hospitals and almost half an hour’s walk to the university campus) – so only about 10 people got to work in the cluster by train in 2016. However that’s going to change with an extension of the train line to the Flinders Medical Centre.

The train-centred clusters with low public transport mode shares are mostly not in Sydney, and/or towards outer extremities of the train network (except Box Hill and Heidelberg in Melbourne). So what is it about Sydney’s trains that makes such a difference?

Sydney’s train network is distinctly different to all other Australian cities in that there are many more points where lines intersect (outside the central city), creating many “loops” on the network (for want of a better expression). In all other cities, lines only generally intersect in the central city and where radial lines split into branches, and cross city trips by public transport generally only possible by buses (in mixed traffic). In Sydney lines do branch out then but then often bend around to intersect other neighbouring lines. This provides significantly more connectivity between stations. For example, you can get to Parramatta from most lines directly or with a single transfer somewhere outside central Sydney. Indeed, Sydney is the only city with a regular non-radial train service (T5 Leppington – Richmond, although it only runs every half-hour).

I’ve roughly overlaid Sydney’s dense suburban job clusters (in red) on its rail network map, and then marked the train mode shares:

While some clusters can only be accessed by a radial train line (or are off-rail), many are at intersection points, and most can be accessed by multiple paths along the network. The 29%+ train mode shares for Chatswood, Parramatta, St Leonards, Burwood, and Rhodes might be partly explained by these being highly accessible on the train network.

Here are Melbourne’s dense suburban employment clusters and train mode shares overlaid on Victoria’s rail network map:

The clusters connected to more train lines (Hawthorn and Camberwell) have higher train mode shares, although they are also closer to the city.

The Spatial Network Analysis for Multimodal Urban Transport Systems (SNAMUTS) methodology (led by Professor Carey Curtis and Dr Jan Scheurer) uses graph-based analysis of public transport networks to develop several indicators of network performance. One indicator that measures network accessibility is closeness centrality, which looks and speed and frequency of services to connect to other nodes in the network (it actually uses inter-peak frequencies and speeds, but they probably correlate fairly well with services in peak periods). A lower score indicates better accessibility.

I’ve extracted the closeness centrality scores for public transport nodes in each employment clusters (from the nearest available data to 2016 at the time of writing, some as old as 2011 so not perfect) and compared this with private transport mode shares to these clusters:

Some clusters were not really centred on a public transport node in the SNAMUTS analysis (eg Osborne Park in Perth, Clayton in Melbourne) and hence are not included in this analysis. These clusters have very high private transport mode shares, and would likely be towards the top right of the chart.

There’s clearly a relationship between the closeness centrality and private mode shares, with low private more shares only occurring where there is high accessibility by public transport. But it’s not super-strong, so there are other factors at play.

Some of the outliers in the bottom right of the distribution include Upper Mount Gravatt (based on a large shopping centre but also on a busway), Murdoch (dominated by hospitals a moderate walk from the station), Nedlands (also dominated by hospitals), Chermside (a combination of hospital and large shopping centre, with the bus interchange remote from the hospital), and Bedford Park (where 63% of jobs are in health) . Again, the pattern of higher private transport mode shares to hospitals is evident.

So do you need strong public transport access to support higher job densities? Here’s the relationship between closeness centrality and weighted job density:

There are no clusters with poor public transport access and high job density, which is not surprising. But this does suggest it could be difficult to significantly increase job densities in clusters currently in the top left of this chart without significantly improving public transport access.

Interestingly, Box Hill in Melbourne does have a similar closeness centrality score to Parramatta and Chatswood in Sydney, suggesting it might be able to support significantly higher job density. However, it only has rapid (train) public transport from two directions. It might be more challenging to maintain bus and tram travel times from other directions if there is significant jobs growth.

Melbourne’s largest cluster – Clayton – is not on the chart because it is not centred on a public transport node. There is however a bus interchange on the southern edge of the cluster at Monash University, which has a relatively low closeness centrality score of 64. I suspect the main employment area would probably have a higher closeness centrality score if it were to be measured because it not connected to the train network by a high frequency express shuttle service and has fewer bus routes. That would place it in the top-left part of the above chart (2016 weighted job density being 63 jobs/ha).

Do higher density clusters have fewer car parks?

The higher density centres certainly tended to have lower private mode shares, but does that mean they don’t have much car parking?

Well I don’t know how many car parking spaces each centre had, but I do know how many people travelled to work by car only, and from that I can calculate a density of car-only journeys (and I’ve calculated a weighted average of the destination zones in each centre). That’s probably a reasonable proxy for car park density.

Here’s how it compares to jobs density (note: log scales on both axes):

There is a very strong correlation between the two – in general centres with higher job density also have higher car density. The strongest correlation I can find is for a quadratic curve that flattens out at higher job densities (as drawn, with R-squared = 0.77), which simply suggests you get lower private mode shares in higher density clusters (in general).

The clusters on the bottom side of the curve have lower car mode shares, and so have a lower car density. Many are inner city locations with better public transport access, but also many nearby residents.

Heidelberg (a hospital-based cluster in Melbourne), has the highest car density of all centres and a high job density, but isn’t a large centre.

Do walking mode shares increase when there are many nearby residents?

If there are many residents living within walking distance of a cluster, relative to the size of that cluster, then you might expect a higher walking mode share, as more employees of the cluster are likely to live nearby.

I’ve roughly summed the number of residents who travelled to work (anywhere) and lived within 1km of each cluster. I’ve then taken the ratio of those nearby working residents to the number of journeys into the cluster, and then compared that with walk-only mode shares for 2016:

Yes, there’s definitely a relationship (although not strong), and this may explain some of the outliers in the previous charts such as Randwick, Marrickville, St Leonards and Bondi Junction.

Is there a relationship between parking costs and mode shares?

It’s quite difficult to definitively answer this question because I don’t have parking prices for 2016, and many car commuters might not be paying retail prices (eg employer-provided free or subsidised parking).

I’ve done a quick survey using Parkopedia of parking prices for parking 8:30 am to 5:30 pm on Monday 2 July 2018, and picked the best price available in each cluster. Of course not everyone will be able park in the cheapest car park so it’s certainly not an ideal measure. An average price might be a slightly better measure but that would be some work to calculate.

But for what it worth, here is the relationship between July 2018 all day parking prices and 2016 private transport mode shares:

You might expect an inverse correlation between the two. Certainly clusters with very cheap or free parking had very high private transport mode shares, but other centres are scattered in the distribution.

Looking at outliers in the top right: I suspect Bedford Park (63% health workers), Heidelberg (hospital precinct), Tooronga (with one major employer being the Coles HQ), Chermside (including Prince Charles Hospital), and Rhodes will have significantly cheaper parking for employees (with visitors paying the prices listed on Parkopedia). Indeed, I could not find many parking prices listed for Rhodes, but there are clearly multi-storey parking garages near the office towers not on Parkopedia.

Looking at outliers in the bottom left: Relatively cheap $15 parking is available at multiple car parks in Bondi Junction. The $10 price in Chatswood was only available at one car park, with higher prices at others, so it is probably below the average price paid. Maybe traffic congestion is enough of a disincentive to drive to work in these centres?

For interest, here’s the relationship between weighted car density and parking prices:

The relationship is again not very strong – I suspect other factors are at play such as unlisted employer provided car parking, as discussed above.

So does job growth in suburban employment clusters lead to lower overall private transport mode shares?

Here is a chart showing the effective private mode share of net new trips in each job cluster, plus the inner 4 km of each city:

(Fremantle, Dandenong, Burwood, and Woden had a net decline in jobs between 2011 and 2016 and so have been excluded from this chart)

The chart shows that although many suburban jobs clusters had a low private mode share of net new trips, it was always higher than for the inner 4 km of that city.

Here’s a summary of net new trips for each city:

So every new 100 jobs in suburban employment clusters did generate many more private transport trips than new jobs in the inner city, particularly for Sydney (45 : 10), Melbourne (68 : 13), and Canberra (84: 18). But then new jobs in suburban employment clusters had significantly lower private transport mode shares than new jobs elsewhere in each city.

So arguably if you wanted to minimise new private transport journeys to work, you’d aim for a significant portion of your employment growth in the central city, and most of the rest in employment clusters (ideally clusters that have excellent access by rapid public transport). Of course you would also want to ensure your central city and employment clusters were accessible by high quality / rapid public transport links (not to forget active transport links for shorter distance commutes).

One argument for growing jobs in suburban employment clusters is that new public transport trips to suburban employment clusters will often be on less congested sections of the public transport network – particularly on train networks (some would even involve contra-peak travel relative to central city). On the other hand, new jobs in the central city have much higher public transport mode shares, but relatively expensive capacity upgrades may be required to facilitate the growth.

New active transport trips to the central city and employment clusters probably requires the least in terms of new infrastructure, and there are probably very few congested commuter cycleways in Australian cities at present.

Another argument for suburban employment clusters is to bring jobs closer to people living in the outer suburbs.

Are new private transport trips to suburban employment clusters much shorter than new private transport trips to the central city, and therefore perhaps not as bad from a congestion / emissions point of view?

Certainly many of these clusters will have congested roads in peak periods, but the distance question is worth investigating.

So how far do people travel to work in different employment clusters?

The 2016 census journey to work data now includes on-road commuting distances (thanks ABS!).

Of course for any jobs cluster there will be a range of people making shorter and longer distance trips and it is difficult to summarise the distribution in one statistic. Averages are not great because they are skewed by a small number of very long distance commutes. For the want of something better, I’ve calculated medians, and here are calculations for Sydney job clusters:

(I’ve added a “Sydney” jobs cluster which is the “Sydney – Haymarket – The Rocks” SA2 that covers the CBD area).

There’s a lot going on in this data:

  • Median distances for private transport commutes to most employment clusters are longer than to the CBD (particularly the big clusters of Macquarie Park and Parramatta).
  • The clusters of Brookvale, Bondi Junction, and Randwick near the east coast have lower medians for motorised modes, probably reflecting smaller catchments. Randwick and Brookvale also do not have rail access, which might explain their low median public transport commute distances.
  • Public transport median commute distances were longer in the rail-based near-CBD clusters of Bondi Junction, Alexandria – Mascot, and St Leonards, but also in some further out rail-based clusters, including Parramatta, Westmead and Penrith.
  • Penrith – the cluster furthest from the Sydney CBD – curiously had the longer public transport median commute distance, which probably reflects good access from longer distance rail services (but public transport mode share was only 14%).
  • Active transport medians vary considerably, and this might be impacted by the mix of shorter walking and longer cycling trips. For example, North Ryde saw more cycling than walking trips, but also had only 1% active transport mode share.

Here’s the same for Melbourne (with a cluster created for the CBD):

Clayton, Dandenong, and Melbourne CBD median commute distances were very similar, whereas median commutes to other clusters were mostly shorter.

Here are results for clusters in the smaller cities:

In Perth, Joondalup had shorter median commuter distances, while Osborne Park and Murdoch (both near rapid train lines) had the longest median public transport journey distances (but not very high public transport mode shares: 7% and 15% respectively). Half of the suburban clusters had a longer median private transport distance than the CBD, and half were shorter.

In Brisbane, median private commute distances were shorter in Chermside, but similar to the city centre for other clusters.

Coming back to our question, only some suburban employment clusters have shorter median private transport commute distances. I expect the slightly shorter distances for those clusters would not cancel out the much higher private transport mode shares, and therefore new suburban cluster jobs would be generating more vehicle kms than new central city jobs.

But perhaps what matters more is the distance travelled by new commuters. New trips from the growing urban fringe to a CBD would be very long in all cities. While ABS haven’t provided detailed journey distance data for 2011, some imperfect analysis of 2011 and 2016 straight line commuter distances between SA2s (sorry not good enough to present in detail) suggests average commuter distances are increasing by 1-2 kms across Sydney and 2-3 kms across Melbourne, and these increases are fairly consistent across the city (including the central city). This may reflect urban sprawl (stronger in Melbourne than Sydney), with new residents on the urban fringe a long way from most jobs.

So did private transport mode shares reduce in suburban employment clusters?

Yes, they did reduce in most clusters, but some saw an increase of up to 2%.

The cluster with the biggest shift away from private transport was Rhodes in Sydney (relatively small and only moderately dense), followed by Perth’s fastest growing hospital cluster of Murdoch.

But perhaps more relevant is how fast each cluster is growing and the mode share of new jobs:

If you want to reduce private transport travel growth, then you don’t want to see many clusters in the top right of this chart (growing fast with high dependency on private transport). Those centres could be experiencing increasing traffic congestion, and may start to hit growth limits unless they get significantly improved public transport access.

Of the cluster in the top-right:

  • Bella Vista – Norwest – Castle Hill will soon have a rapid rail service with Sydney Metro.
  • Murdoch’s high private transport mode share might reflect the fairly long walking distance between the station and hospitals (up to 10 minutes through open space with no tree canopy), but also hospital shift workers who may find private transport more convenient.
  • Clayton might reflect most jobs being remote from the train line (although it is served by three SmartBus routes that have high frequency and some on-road priority). Note: my Monash cluster unfortunately does not include the Monash Medical Centre that is closer to Clayton Station and very job dense. The hospital precinct had its own destination zone in 2016 with 88% private transport mode share, but was washed out in a larger destination zone in 2011 which made it difficult to include in the cluster (for the record, that 2011 destination zone also had an 88% private transport mode share).
  • Joondalup is a large but not particularly dense employment area, and I suspect many jobs are remote from the train/bus interchange, and some local bus frequencies are low.

Can you predict mode shares with a mathematical model?

I have put the data used above into a regression model trying to explain private transport mode shares in the clusters. I found that only weighted job density, walking catchment size, and distance from CBD were significant variables, but this might be for want of a better measure of the quality of public transport accessibility (SNAMUTS Closeness Centrality scores are not available for many centres).

I also tested the percentage of jobs in health care and social assistance (looking for a hospital effect), the surrounding population up to 10km (nearby population density), median travel distances, and the size of clusters, but these did not show up as significant predictors.

Can you summarise all that?

  • Compared to other cities, Sydney has many more clusters and they are larger, more dense, and generally have much lower private transport mode shares.
  • With the exception of Canberra, less than half of all jobs in each city were in either the inner city area or a dense suburban jobs cluster. In Perth it was as low as 32%, while Sydney was 45%, and Canberra 54%.
  • Higher density clusters correlate with lower private transport mode shares.
  • Only higher density clusters centred on train stations with strong connections to the broader train network achieve relatively high public transport mode shares of journeys to work.
  • High quality bus services can boost mode shares in clusters, but the highest bus-only mode share was 15% (in 2016).
  • High-frequency express shuttle bus services can boost public transport mode shares in off-rail clusters.
  • Walk-only mode shares for journeys to work are generally very low (typically 2-5%) but generally higher in clusters where there are many nearby residents.
  • Private transport mode shares are generally 90%+ in clusters with free parking.
  • I suspect there is a relationship between parking prices and private mode share, but it’s hard to get complete data to prove this. Subsidised employer provided parking probably leads to higher private transport mode shares, and may be common at hospitals. However unexpectedly cheap parking in Bondi Junction and Chatswood needs to be explained (perhaps an oversupply, or just horrible traffic congestion?).
  • There is some evidence to suggest hospitals are prone to having higher private transport mode shares, possibly due to significant numbers of shift workers who need to commute at times when public transport service levels are lower.
  • Private transport shares in suburban clusters are much higher than central cities, but lower than elsewhere in cities. The private transport mode share of net new jobs in clusters is much higher than for central city areas, but generally lower than elsewhere in cities.
  • High density clusters still have large amounts of car parking.
  • Median commuter distances to suburban employment clusters are sometimes longer and sometimes shorter than median commuter distances to each cities CBD.
  • The clusters of Joondalup, Clayton, Murdoch, and Bella Vista – Norwest – Castle Hill have grown significantly in size with very high private transport mode shares. These centres might be experiencing increased traffic congestion, and their growth might be limited without significant improvements in public transport access.

What could this mean for Melbourne’s “National Employment and Innovation Clusters”?

One motivation for this research was getting insights into the future of Melbourne’s National Employment and Innovation Clusters (NEICs). What follows is intended to be observations about the research, rather than commentary about the whether any plans should be changed, or certain projects should or should not be built.

Firstly, the “emerging” NEICs of Sunshine and Werribee didn’t meet my (arguably) low criteria for dense employment clusters in 2016 (too small). The same is true for the Dandenong South portion of the “Dandenong” cluster (not dense enough).

Parkville and Fishermans Bend would have qualified had I not excluded areas within 4km of the CBD.

Significant sections of the Parkville, Fishermans Bend, Dandenong, Clayton, and La Trobe NEICs are currently beyond walking distance of Melbourne’s rapid transit network. Of these currently off-rail clusters:

  • Parkville: a new rail link is under construction
  • Fishermans Bend: new light and heavy rail links are proposed. In the short term, paid parking is to be introduced in some parts in 2018 (which had commuter densities of 47-63 per hectare in 2016). The longer term vision is for 80% of transport movements by public or active transport.
  • Clayton: New light and heavy rail links are proposed. The Monash University campus has had paid parking for some time, but there appears to be free parking for employees in the surrounding industrial areas to the north and east. It will be interesting to see if/when paid parking becomes a reality in the industrial area (commuter densities ranged from 48 to 74 jobs/ha in 2016, not dissimilar to Fishermans Bend). The Monash Medical Centre area is relatively close to Clayton train station, has very high commuter density (329 per hectare in 2016 before a new children’s hospital opened in 2017) and had 88% private transport mode share in 2016. No doubt car parking will be an ongoing challenge/issue for this precinct.
  • La Trobe: No rapid transit links are currently proposed to the area around the university, which had an 83% private transport mode share in 2016. There is a currently a frequent express shuttle bus from Reservoir station to the university campus, and a high frequency tram route touches the western edge of the campus.
  • Dandenong South: The area is dominated by industrial rather than office facilities, and the job density ranges from 7 to 33 commuters per hectare, which is relatively low compared to the clusters in my study. There are no commercial car parks listed on Parkopedia so I assume pretty much all employees currently get free parking. No rapid transit stations are proposed for the area. The area is served by a few bus routes, including one high frequency SmartBus route, but 98% of new jobs between 2011 and 2016 were accounted for by private transport trips. This suggests it is difficult even for high-frequency (but non-rapid) public transport to complete with free parking in such areas.

Another potential challenge is connectivity to Melbourne’s broader train network. Parkville (and Fishermans Bend should Melbourne Metro 2 be built) will be well connected to the broader network by the nature of their central location. The area around Sunshine station has excellent rail access from four directions (with a fifth proposed with Melbourne Airport Rail). Dandenong, La Trobe and Werribee are on or near 1 or 2 radial train lines.

You can read more about Melbourne’s employment clusters in this paper by Prof John Stanley, Dr Peter Brain, and Jane Cunningham, which suggests there would be productivity gains from improved public transport access to such clusters.

I hope this post provides some food for thought.

Where do people in Melbourne go to work?

Sat 23 April, 2011

[Updated in August 2011 with a better map format, and now maps for 21 SLAs]

In an earlier post, I looked at where employees come from for some major employment destinations around Melbourne. This post does the flip-side: What are the work destinations for people in different parts of Melbourne? How well does the current public transport network connect people to where they work? What implications does this have for the proposed rail lines to Doncaster and Rowville?

I’ll take a detailed look at Rowville, Manningham, and Berwick, and a briefer look at Altona, Broadmeadows, Cranbourne, and Sunshine.

About the maps

I’ve used a dataset of that contains the volumes of people commuting each SLA (Statistical Local Area) to destination zones in Melbourne from the 2006 census (with thanks to the Department of Transport). I’ve then trimmed each destination zone to keep only areas where employment activity would be expected (using ABS mesh blocks). That is, I’ve removed parklands, residential areas, etc.

Then I’ve used dot distribution mapping, where each dot represents 10 or 15 employee destinations (depending on the SLA). I’ve also overlaid each SLA’s percentage share of journey to work destinations from the SLA in question (shaded yellow), to give a broader perspective.


The “Knox (C) South” SLA might as well be called Rowville as that suburb dominates the SLA. The following map shows the density of worker destinations in 2006. (As usual, you’ll need to click to zoom in and see the detail).

There are quite a few dense destinations within the SLA, including (hyperlinks are to Melway maps):

Nearby destinations to the west include:

Major destinations to the north and south include:

Further afield there are concentrations in:

You’ll also find that most schools in and near Rowville show up on the map.

Rowville is only served by buses for public transport, but there are now direct connections from Rowville to most of these destinations, particularly following the introduction of SmartBus routes 900 (west to Clayton, Oakleigh, Chadstone and Caulfield) and 901 (north Knox and Ringwood, and south to Dandenong and Frankston). The 900 was a completely new route, and the 901 an upgrade of an existing route, both occurring after the 2006 census.

However neither of those routes operate east of Stud Road, where most Rowville residents are located. Those people need to change buses at Stud Park Shopping Centre, which is not easy as most local bus routes in eastern Rowville run every 30 minutes in the peak (and are highly indirect). You can see the local network on the Metlink public transport map for the Rowville area:

The recent Bus Service Review in the area did propose route 900 be extended east towards Ferntree Gully which would introduce a direct public transport connection to many of the major employment destinations for local residents.

Notable destinations not well connected by public transport include:

  • The Caribbean Business Park in Scoresby (marked Caribbean Gardens on the above map): The only access by public transport is the 753 and 693 bus routes at the northern edge. There are around five trips per hour combined in the AM peak, but the headway becomes 30 minutes later in the AM peak. This business park only has one entrance road and is away from major public transport routes making it difficult to service. It is however conveniently located next to Eastlink, and obviously has a high car dependence. They just need to hope oil prices stay cheap. Well, cheap-ish.
  • The Notting Hill industrial area around Ferntree Gully Road: People wanting to get to jobs in this area need to change buses. The current network allows you to reach Notting Hill by changing between bus routes that operate every 15 minutes (which could be worse).
  • The Tally Ho business park in Burwood East (corner Burwood Highway and Springvale Road): This is at the intersection of a SmartBus route and a tram line, so there is relatively good public transport to the site. However the challenge is the distance involved, and from Rowville a transfer is required between SmartBus routes.
  • The Bayswater industrial area: This is only directly connected from Rowville by three extended trips on bus route 691 in the AM peak. In the PM peak, no trips run through from Bayswater to Rowville, so a transfer is required at Boronia.
  • The Valley Private Hospital, which is just across Dandenong Creek in Mulgrave but not near any bridges.
  • The Coles Headquarters in Tooronga (Glen Iris). This employment centre is only really serviced by one bus route (624), or a lengthy (and hilly) walk from Tooronga train station or the Burke Road tram (72).
  • The Box Hill CAD, again some distance away. Can be reached with a bus-bus or bus-train transfer (about 1 hour on PT).
  • The St Kilda Road employment area is hard to reach (particularly adjacent to Albert Park). You either have to go to Flinders Street and catch a tram south (an indirect journey), get off a train at Armadale and transfer to a slow tram, or change from train to tram at South Yarra (but this only serves the northern end of the patch). Again, this looks like more evidence to support a new PT route from South Yarra Station to the Albert Park section of St Kilda Road (and possibly beyond). This was recommended as part of the Bus Service Review for the area.

The first two of these destinations are along Ferntree Gully Road, and so it might be tempting to try to run a new bus route from Rowville along Ferntree Gully Road. But rather than trying to pair all origins and destinations with direct bus routes (creating a large confusing network of low-frequency bus routes), maybe the answer lies in better frequency on the 693 (or more even headways between the 693 and 753) to reduce transfer penalties. Another improvement would be to introduce a stop on the four express route 754 trips, should that be deemed acceptable by the powers that be(!). The 754 express bus used to be the fastest way from Rowville to the CBD, but this is no longer the case following the introduction of the 900 SmartBus (in 2006).

The following table shows the total numbers of journeys to work to the top SLA destinations, and the public transport mode share

Destination SLA Journeys PT share
Knox (C) – South 2368 2%
Monash (C) – Waverley West 1128 2%
Gr. Dandenong (C) – Dandenong 1035 1%
Knox (C) – North-East 897 1%
Monash (C) – South-West 831 2%
Gr. Dandenong (C) Bal 829 1%
Kingston (C) – North 815 1%
Melbourne (C) – Inner 800 57%
Knox (C) – North-West 753 4%
Monash (C) – Waverley East 591 4%
Melbourne (C) – Remainder 430 23%
Whitehorse (C) – Box Hill 319 3%
Maroondah (C) – Croydon 305 0%

The City of Melbourne is the only destination with any serious PT mode share, which is important to keep in mind considering the above analysis. Perhaps the mode share for some of the directly connected destinations may have risen since 2006 due to the new SmartBus routes. But then maybe public transport will always struggle to compete with plentiful free employee parking (that employers are paying for).

What does this mean for a rail line to Rowville?

If rail were to run via Wellington Road, certainly it would connect Rowville to a number of its major employment destinations to the west. However if the rail ended at Stud Park Shopping Centre, there would still be a transfer problem for most people who live in the eastern part of Rowville (something that can be more easily fixed by extending existing SmartBus route 900). It would not also be an ideal park and ride station, being an activity centre with limited land space.

1450 people from Rowville commuted to the City of Melbourne, and a further 2550 commuted to the City of Monash, a total of 4000 trips (exactly, as it happens). If the train line achieved a 50% share of all travel to Melbourne and Monash (2000 people), that is 3 trains at comfortable loading from Rowville. Of course there would be additional demand from other areas along the route, and for trips to other destinations. But then again not all destinations in Monash and Melbourne would be well served by the rail line (eg Glen Waverley).

The Rowville Railway Prefeasibility Study 2004 (commissioned by Knox Council), simply assumed 7% of peak period journeys to work in the line’s catchment would use the train (refer page 38), without checking census data about where Rowville residents currently work (though it turns out that many do work along the rail line). They arrived at a figure of 3360 journeys to work by Rowville rail, using a total catchment population of 100,000 (allowing for park and ride), shown in the map below.

They assumed 70% of these would be within one hour and then calculated an “hourly” peak patronage estimate of 2352 trips. They described this figure as the patronage per hour in the peak, but this is a little misleading because the other 30% of journeys to work by train (1008) would be outside the busiest hour of the peak. Assuming a three hour AM peak, it might be around 500 for the first and third peak hours. Not a lot of demand.

Obviously university students and people travelling for other non-work purposes would add to these commuter figures, but I am not sure whether there will be sufficient demand to justify the cost of grade-separated heavy rail to a low-density area of Melbourne that is a not an urban growth area. While the residential densities in the catchment are not the lowest in Melbourne, there are large areas of parkland and other non-residential land use that dilutes the average density of the catchment (an issue that equally applies to the proposed Knox tram extension). A shorter line as far as Monash University might be more viable.

In addition, the study assumed a large park and ride catchment. For many people in this catchment, the car travel time saving of having a park and ride train station slightly closer on the Rowville line would be quite small. I suspect many of these trips will be diverted park and ride from the Dandenong and Glen Waverley lines, rather than trips mode shifted to public transport.

Alan Davies, on his Melbourne Urbanist blog has suggested that perhaps such a rail line should veer to the north to capture more of the Notting Hill employment area (and possibly also Chadstone Shopping Centre). Looking at the current employment destinations, there would appear to be some merit in this idea, as long as it still served Monash University. Although without a reservation in place, it would probably require a very expensive tunnel.

Perhaps in a future post I could look at the destinations of a broader catchment of the proposed Rowville rail line (although my dataset only has origins at the SLA level). Alas, I’m doing this in my own time, so I will have to see how I go.

Hopefully we will get a better feel for the economics in the upcoming study into Rowville rail.

Manningham West

The Manningham West SLA captures the main residential half of Manningham, centred around Doncaster, Templestowe and Donvale. Here is a map showing the employment destination densities for Manningham west residents:

Within the SLA, you can see various pockets of destination density, all of which are either shopping areas or schools. In fact, Manningham lacks any significant industrial areas, large medical facilities, or tertiary education institutions. Only 16% of Manningham west workers went to a job located within Manningham west (but this is not actually very low compared to other SLAs in Melbourne, perhaps the subject of future post).

Nearby major destinations include:

Major destinations further afield include:

  • Kew Junction
  • Hawthorn/Camberwell corridor, along Burwood Road/Camberwell Road, including Swinburne University
  • inner northern suburbs (Carlton/Fitzroy)
  • Melbourne CBD
  • St Kilda Road (particularly the Albert Park section)
  • Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Children’s Hospital in Parkville

In terms of public transport access to employment, the following destinations are more problematic:

  • Access to Heidelberg is only provided by the 903 SmartBus (although at a 7.5 minute frequency in peak periods making transfers from other routes easier). There is no east-west connection into Heidelberg from the Templestowe area (an issue identified in the bus service review).
  • There is no direct linkage to Ivanhoe, compounded by limited access to Heidelberg.
  • The hospitals in Parkville (which require two bus transfers, or a tram connection in the CBD)
  • St Kilda Road requires a tram transfer in the CBD. While this is relatively direct, it’s not particularly fast, and the City of Melbourne is planning to remove the tram stops at the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Streets, the transfer point for such commuters (this is in fact the busiest tram-bus transfer location in all of Melbourne).

Until recently, the “Golden Mile” along Whitehorse Road had very little public transport coverage, but SmartBus route 901 now connects large parts of Manningham with this area (and Ringwood).

The following table shows the major SLA destinations:

Destination SLA Journeys PT share
Manningham (C) – West 5773 4%
Melbourne (C) – Inner 3819 53%
Melbourne (C) – Remainder 2421 20%
Whitehorse (C) – Box Hill 1768 8%
Yarra (C) – North 1201 9%
Banyule (C) – Heidelberg 1161 2%
Whitehorse (C) – Nunawading W. 1081 3%
Port Phillip (C) – West 902 17%
Boroondara (C) – Hawthorn 882 4%
Darebin (C) – Preston 874 2%
Monash (C) – Waverley West 834 2%
Melbourne (C) – S’bank-D’lands 742 33%
Yarra (C) – Richmond 715 9%

What does this mean for a rail line to Doncaster?

Certainly a railway between Doncaster and the city would connect Manningham West to many of its employment destinations in the inner city area.

The journey to work destination SLAs that would be served by a Doncaster railway (Melbourne Inner, Southbank/Docklands, Yarra (North and Richmond) and maybe half of Melbourne remainder) would cover around 8000 trips on 2006 census figures. If the public transport mode share to these SLAs was the same as for trips from all origins (other than the inner city and Manningham west), then that would be around 3900 journeys to work journeys by public transport, or around five comfortably full trains. Over a three hour peak period, that would require less than two trains per hour. However, adding non-work related trips, you might justify three trains per hour in the peak from Doncaster. This would be much less frequent than most train lines in Melbourne.

Doncaster rail also faces similar challenges to Rowville rail, in that most of the catchment would need to use car or bus to access the train line (assuming a Doncaster train line terminated at Doncaster Hill. Already a large regional shopping centre, there would be little room for park and ride, and commuter parking is probably the last sort of inactive land use you want in a major activity centre anyway.

Which would mean buses would need to be the primary access mode for train passengers. This introduces a transfer to most trips, when compared to current direct to city bus services available to most people in Manningham. Transfers bring walking and waiting times, and inconvenience and risk of missed connections (all up what transport planners call transfer penalties).

The Eddington East West Link Study includes an appendix summarising their assessment of mass transit options for Doncaster (appendix C, pages 272-8). It reports a heavy rail line would provide a journey time of 25-30 minutes from Doncaster Hill to Melbourne Central, and that a bus service with high levels of bus priority could complete the trip in 25-35 minutes. SmartBus route 907 is currently timetabled to take around 39 minutes between Doncaster Hill and Melbourne Central in the AM peak, so it would appear the study team anticipated greater bus priority.

Introducing a bus-train transfer to trips to the city would require maybe 5 minutes of transfer time, plus a transfer penalty to account for the inconvenience and missed transfer risk (particularly if trains only run every 15-20 minutes). The journey time advantage of heavy rail quickly evaporates when you include a bus-train transfer to most journeys. You would also need a large bus terminal capable of holding maybe 10-15 feeder buses all meeting the same train if you want to minimise transfer times.

I suspect the lack of compelling travel time savings, and relatively low transport demand will make it difficult to justify the capital cost of Doncaster rail, especially considering the tunnelling required when the line leaves the Eastern Freeway catchment (Eddington estimated a cost of $1.7-2b). This was the finding of Eddington study, but the detail of their analysis was unfortunately not published. And now we are going to have yet another study.

Another factor limiting demand on the corridor is the lack of specialised destinations (such as hospitals or universities) in Manningham to create demand outside commuter peak flows. For example, only 245 people reported commuting from Melbourne or Yarra to Manningham west in the 2006 census, and only 22 of them did so by public transport.

Of course building a train line would change land use patterns, which would probably increase the travel demand from what it was in 2006. But would this increase be enough to return a favourable benefit-cost ratio? And is the railway being built to meet existing latent demand, or create new demand?


The Berwick SLA (part of Casey) is in Melbourne’s outer south eastern suburbs, and is still seeing urban growth.

The major local destinations include:

The biggest nearby destinations include:

Further afield destinations include:

Here is part of the Metlink map showing the Berwick area:

Notable destinations not well connected by public transport include:

  • The industrial area of Hallam. Bus route 828 almost reaches the Hallam industrial area, but then deviates north to residential areas (and I’m not advocating a change, by the way). Otherwise Hallam station is the south-east corner of the area.
  • The large employment area of Dandenong South. Reopening and providing pedestrian access to General Motors Station might help provide access to some parts (it is now ironically abutted by a large employee car park) (see wikipedia if you are interested in the history of this station). The bus service review for the area advocated new east-west routes from Berwick to Dandenong South, which would obviously greatly assist in connecting employees to workplaces. The bus network in Casey was upgraded in late 2010, but no east-west routes were introduced.
  • The Clayton/Mulgrave/Notting Hill industrial area is again a problem area. Some parts are near to train stations (providing a direct connection), but most require a change to a bus. For someone not living near a train station in Berwick, the journey would be bus-train-bus, which would not compete well with the car (especially with free parking). I do wonder if a direct bus service (with express running in between) might be viable.
  • Caribbean Gardens Business Park (see Rowville discussion)
  • The Coles headquarters(see Rowville discussion)
  • St Kilda Road (see Rowville discussion)

The following Metlink map shows the lack of east-west bus services across the rail line between the residential and employment areas:

A number of people travel long distances to get to work from Berwick, where public transport will struggle to compete with the car, due to low average bus speed as much as anything. I’ll look at average travel distances in another post.

Here are the volumes and public transport mode shares for major destination SLAs:

Destination SLA Journeys PT share
Casey (C) – Berwick 5934 2%
Gr. Dandenong (C) – Dandenong 3650 3%
Gr. Dandenong (C) Bal 2902 2%
Kingston (C) – North 2058 2%
Casey (C) – Hallam 1856 2%
Monash (C) – Waverley West 1367 1%
Monash (C) – South-West 1299 5%
Melbourne (C) – Inner 1232 73%
Cardinia (S) – Pakenham 1028 4%
Casey (C) – Cranbourne 1000 1%
Knox (C) – South 872 0%
Frankston (C) – West 631 1%
Melbourne (C) – Remainder 622 39%

Again, only the CBD shows up with large public transport mode share, although curiously Monash South West is at 5% (almost entirely involving train).

Other SLAs

For interest, I have looked at a few other SLAs around Melbourne. I’ll discuss these briefly in terms of problematic public transport access to employment.



This map shows some problem areas for public transport access, including:

  • Large parts of the industrial areas within the SLA, which have no service at all. Particularly the Toyota factory on Grieve Parade (okay, it does have bus route 232, but that only runs to/from the Melbourne CBD on a few peak period trips).
  • Victoria University Newport Campus
  • Fishermans Bend industrial area (the bus service review recommended route 232 be re-routed along Lorimer Street to improve connectivity to the main employment area)


Public transport doesn’t provide strong service to:

  • The Laverton North/Derrimut industrial area. A new bus route 417 was introduced into this area recently, but it only provides access from Laverton station in the south.
  • Moonee Ponds has a surprising concentration of destinations, and currently a transfer is required at Highpoint to a tram.
  • Fishermans Bend again shows up, with the only access being via the CBD. The recent relocation of Fishermans Bend bus routes to Southern Cross station will certainly assist these people to use public transport.
  • The Altona North industrial area, particularly the Toyota factory on Grieve Parade.
  • Melbourne Airport.


Maribyrnong is quite well connected by public transport to most employment destinations.

However there are some more difficult destinations:

  • Laverton North industrial area (partially connected by bus route 414)
  • Altona industrial area (that has almost no public transport)
  • Fishermans Bend (need to transfer to bus at Southern Cross Station, much less direct than driving)

Melton East

Melton east includes Caroline Springs, Taylors Hill and Hillside. It represents the north-western fringe of contiguous urban Melbourne.

You can see a wide range of work destinations – many a long distance away, suggesting a lack of nearby employment opportunities is an issue.

There are many popular work destinations difficult to reach by public transport, including:

  • Laverton North and Altona industrial areas
  • Melbourne Airport
  • Tullamarine industrial area around Sharps Road (completion of SmartBus route 902 would assist)
  • Somerton industrial area (902 completion would assist, although this is a long distance to travel)


27% of destinations are within the City of Melbourne.

Popular destinations difficult to reach by public transport include:

  • The Altona industrial area
  • Fishermans Bend (which can be reached much more directly by car)

Other SLAs – North


Public transport doesn’t provide strong service to:

  • The Tullamarine industrial area around Sharps Road/Airport Drive. The Green orbital SmartBus (902) would close this gap if extended to Werribee as originally planned.
  • The Tullamarine industrial area near the airport along Melrose Drive (served by the infrequent 478/479 bus routes, for which an upgrade was promised in May 2010 following the Bus Service Review, but still not delivered as at July 2011)

The recent extension of SmartBus routes 901 and 902 will have greatly improved public transport access to the Somerton/Campbellfield industrial area, and access to Airport West.

You can see a smattering of dots over the land covered by Melbourne Airport and the adjacent industrial area to the south. Because this is all one destination zone, the employement is diluted across the zone, whereas in reality the employment will be concentrated around the terminals and industrial area.

We know that a lot of Melbourne Airport workers come from nearby suburbs, including Broadmeadows. The recent extension of SmartBus route 901 has significantly improved access to Melbourne Airport from the Broadmeadows area. Although its current bus stop at the airport is unfortunately quite a distance from all the terminals!


Sunbury is a satellite urban area north-west of Melbourne, with most of this SLA being rural land and 21% of Sunbury SLA residents work in Sunbury itself.

Around 9% of commuters worked in and around Melbourne Airport (distributed over a large destination zone in the map, refer discussion in Broadmeadows section above). There are bus services between Sunbury and Melbourne Airport but they operate very infrequently (a service upgrade has been promised).

A significant number also work in the Somerton industrial area, which is not directly connected by public transport – and would be difficult to be connected efficiently.


The vast majority of residents in this SLA live in the suburbs along the eastern edge of the SLA (including the Greenvale area to the east of the “14” label). The rest of the SLA is mostly rual land, although it includes Melbourne Airport and an adjacent industrial area in Tullamarine.

Work destinations difficult to reach by public transport include:

  • Melbourne Airport
  • Industrial areas in Tullamarine and Airport West
  • Thomastown (although it can be reached via Broadmeadows on SmartBus 902)

Moreland north

This SLA is mostly made up of the suburbs of Glenroy and Hadfield.

The biggest destination is Broadmeadows to the immediate north. Connectivity to the north is limited to the two train lines, and two bus routes (one very infrequent). The northern part of the Somerton industrial area can only be reached by public transport with a transfer between relatively infrequent routes.


A significant proportion of Brunswick residents travelled to the south, including the Melbourne CBD.  There are no significant destinations that are difficult to reach by public transport.


The only work destination somewhat difficult to reach by public transport is the Carlton/Parkville area, as half of peak period trains do not stop at Victoria Park station, which provides a transfer opportunity to high frequency buses to Carlton.

Other SLAs – eastern and south-eastern


Ringwood has direct public transport links to most destinations, including those along the railway line to the city, and the 742 bus to the Notting Hill area. The Bayswater industrial area and St Kilda Road commercial area are a little more difficult to reach by public transport.


A significant destination for Croydon SLA residents is the Bayswater and Bayswater North industrial areas. The lack of a bus service along Colchester Road would make this area difficult to reach by public transport for a number of workers.

A significant number of destinations were along the Lilydale/Ringwood train line, making public tranpsort access relatively easy.

A fair number of people commuted to the Clayton/Notting Hill industrial area, and as it happens, bus route 737 connects Croydon to this area (although travel times would not be short).

Melbourne’s CBD only accounts for 5% of work destinations from Croydon.


There are a number of popular destinations difficult to reach by public transport:

  • Just to the north of the station is an industrial area that is beyond walking distance of public transport (around Beresford Road).
  • Curiously, the southern most part of the suburb of Kilsyth – a rural area (this might actually mostly be the Boral quarry on Cantebury Road, which is connected by bus 679).
  • The Bayswater industrial area.
  • The eastern part of Mount Evenlyn and Wandin North (again, most of this land is rural so the actual employment might be in spot concentrations within the destination zone).

Knox – north east

A significant proportion of workers had destinations in Bayswater/Bayswater North industrial areas, Knox City and around Boronia station. Most popular destinations are actually connected by public transport from significant parts of the SLA.

Knox – North west

There is some degree of public transport connection to most destinations, although parts of Bayswater North are more difficult to reach.

Only 6% of residents in this SLA work in the Melbourne CBD. A tram extension to Knox City would connect some employment destinations along the way, but would not be an effective way to reach the Melbourne CBD by public transport given the distance and slow speed (bus+train would be faster).


The standout issue for this SLA is Dandenong South. There is only one bus route connecting the SLA with just parts of Dandenong South industrial area. From the distribution of dots it appears that around 1 in 5 Cranbourne commuters travelled to Dandenong South.

The recent bus service review recommended much better east-west connectivity, but this was not done in the late 2010 upgrade to Casey bus services (unfortunately you wont find the detail in the executive summary of the bus service review, you have to order the full report from the Department of Transport).

Access to the Clayton/Mulgrave/Notting Hill and Braeside industrial areas, and St Kilda Road employment area is also problematic, for the same reasons as outlined for Rowville.


Unfortunately analysis of census journey to work data was not done in this level of detail in the 2007-2009 Bus Service Reviews across Melbourne. Hopefully my analysis can now provide greater evidence to support public transport planning.

Where do the employees come from? (Melbourne 2006)

Sat 15 January, 2011

If we want to improve transport options into employment areas, it helps to know where the employees are coming from.The answers are in the gold mine that is census journey to work data.

This post maps where employees come from for major employment destinations around Melbourne, and looks at whether public transport is servicing these areas well. The CBD will be the subject of a separate post.

About the maps

Skip this section at your own peril – there’s some important things to keep in mind:

  • For each employment centre I have generated two or three maps:
    • the number of commuter trips originating in each SLA – ie where do the workers live?
    • the private transport mode share for commuter trips from each SLA. While I often look at public transport mode share, that doesn’t account for walking/cycling for shorter trips, and car trips are really what we need to reduce. Car mode share is only shown for an SLA where there are more than 100 originating trips, Note that given census data never reports values of 1 or 2 (for privacy reasons), we need to be careful about reported car mode shares that are 97%+.
    • for inner city areas only: the number of private transport based trips originating from each SLA (a high car mode share might not be such an issue if there aren’t many car trips being made).
  • I have used an SLA-to-destination zone journey to work dataset from the 2006 census (with thanks to the Victorian Department of Transport).
  • I have defined each employment area as a collection of destination zones, and then looked at the SLA origins for people working in those areas. These employment areas are shown in black shading on the maps.
  • On the maps showing quantities, shading represents relative density while the numbers are absolutes for each SLA. Some SLAs have larger areas and/or populations than others. For outer metro SLAs (which are often only partially urbanised) the density figures will always be low, but the concentration within the urban are might be higher. In an ideal world I would use density of residential areas only, but that takes a fair bit of work and I do this blogging in my own time. So you need to interpret those carefully.
  • The private transport mode share maps use the same colour scale for mode share values (hence some are very green and some very red).
  • As usual, you will need to click to enlarge maps.

Inner City Destinations

South Melbourne employees by SLA:

You can see large sources from the inner southern suburbs, particularly to the east and south.

South Melbourne private transport commuter mode share:

In general only about half commuters come by car, but this includes the nearby inner southern suburbs, despite being directly connected by tram routes. Perhaps the high car mode share reflects relative ease of parking and some awkwardness in getting to all parts of South Melbourne via public transport (for many it would require changing trams at Domain Interchange). A previous post showed that car mode share varied from 35% near Flinders Street Station up to 58% along St Kilda Road, and 67% in the south-west.

Car mode share is 87% from Point Cook/Werribee South (227 commuters) and Rowville (188 commuters), both of which lacked good radial public transport connections (Rowville is now served by a SmartBus direct to Huntingdale Station). Another high car share area is the affluent suburbs in Bayside, particularly south of the Sandringham train line (refer previous post).

South Melbourne employees commuting by private transport, by SLA:

This third picture is interesting:

  • The highest car origin density is still from the inner southern and south-eastern suburbs, on relatively short trips where public transport is generally frequent and direct (although not always fast).
  • There are many cars coming from the inner north and Williamstown, which requires crossing the city or Westgate Bridge.

Perhaps the number of cars coming from the inner south-eastern suburbs could be reduced if it were possible to travel by public transport directly to more parts of South Melbourne? Tram 8 does provide a link from South Yarra station to St Kilda Road (you can then change again to tram 55), but perhaps better access is required to other parts of South Melbourne?

Or perhaps it is more to do with ease of parking arrangements?

I’ve had a look at VISTA 2007 data for the Docklands/Southbank SLA – although the sample is very small so need to treat this with caution!

Only 41% involved self-paid parking of a personal car. Another 21% was free parking of personal cars, while 38% involved employer parking and/or company cars. While this is a very small sample, it suggests ease of parking is quite probably a strong determinant of car mode share. I’ll do a similar analysis for the CBD in an upcoming post where there is a larger sample (n=250).

Parkville employees by SLA:

The major sources for Parkville are the inner northern suburbs, which is not surprising. People tend to work and live on the same side of the city because transport is usually easier. Parkville is not directly served by the rail city loop for those coming from the south.

The proposed metro rail tunnel would connect the Sunbury/Sydenham line (north-western suburbs) to Parkville direct. However, the maps shows that the north-western suburbs are not currently a major source of Parkville employees (there will be students as well of course). This may of course change once the line is open, but it does present a patronage challenge to the project.

The relatively high catchment along the Epping and Hurstbridge lines suggests a more direct link from there to Parkville might have some potential for public transport mode shift. Already there is a high frequency bus service along Johnston Street which connects to Victoria Park Station on these lines. However, only half of peak period trains stop at Victoria Park station at present.

Parkville private transport commuter mode share:

(17/1 – this map has now been corrected since original posting)

A standout is Moonee Valley West at 87%. Not quite sure what is going on there – although most residents would have had to catch a bus, train and tram to get to Parkville by public transport in 2006. Such a trip would still involve two transfers now, but to a more direct and high frequency route 401 bus at North Melbourne station.

Car mode share is also high to the east in Boroondara and Manningham and in the outer western and northern suburbs. Being effectively on the same side of the city would make car commuting relatively easier.

Those coming from the south-eastern suburbs would appear to be largely content with public transport, although wealthier Brighton had a higher car mode share.

Parkville employees commuting by private transport, by SLA:

Car mode share and volume is also relatively high from Moonee Valley. While the 59 tram connects these two areas, it is relatively slow. The recently introduced high frequency 401 shuttle bus from North Melbourne to Parkville may have since increase public transport mode share from Moonee Valley workers in the catchment of the Craigieburn rail line.

There are also quite a few cars making the awkward trip from the St Kilda and South Yarra areas. But otherwise they tend to come from nearby suburbs – many of which are directly connected to Parkville (at least from the north).

Fishermans Bend is perhaps one of the most interesting areas in this analysis. It is on the eastern side of the Yarra River and relatively close to the CBD, but take a look at where the employees come from:

Fishermans Bend employees by SLA:

While the densities are highest from the inner southern suburbs, there are actually large numbers from the western suburbs (this is where low average density SLAs impact the results). There are around 3000 Fishermans Bend employees who live on the western side of the Maribyrnong River.

In fact, here is a similar map, except shaded by total number of employees (rather than density):

Most of them come from the western suburbs. And they come by car…

Fishermans Bend private transport commuter mode share:

No wonder the Westgate Bridge is heavily congested. As shown in the figure below (from a report to the City of Melbourne by Paul Mees citing a 2005 VicRoads survey), 34% of cars on the Westgate Bridge exit at Todd Road (the main Fishermans Bend exit) (for trucks the figure was 31%). That’s a third of the traffic on the Westgate Bridge . We seem to have a signficant public transport gap here!

Current public transport access to Fishermans Bend is primarily by bus from the CBD (routes 235/237/238), although one bus (route 232) runs from a small catchment in North Altona over the Westgate Bridge and along the southern edge of the industrial area (Williamstown Road). Driving over the Westgate Bridge would appear to be a more attractive option than the current train-bus option (here is a map of what such a trip can look like). Perhaps a stronger public transport link from the western suburbs is needed, maybe one that connects with the train network in the west. The current route 232 commences from the site of the now closed Paisley railway station, through which about half of Werribee peak period trains pass.

That said, the major bus service from the CBD have been realigned recently to operate from directly outside Southern Cross Station, and Werribee and Williamstown line trains run direct to Southern Cross in the AM peak. However there are still headway gaps of 20-30 minutes during some parts of the AM peak on these routes. It might be possible to slightly increase the frequency of these routes with existing resources if the routes terminated at Southern Cross station instead of Flinders & Market Streets (although I am sure a minority of existing users would not like this). Travelling via Southern Cross might indeed be the fastest way to reach Fishermans Bend by public transport, unless bus services could get priority over the Westgate Bridge (which is currently congested by single occupant cars).

Fishermans Bend employees commuting by private transport, by SLA:

The cars also come from the inner suburbs, including some density from Port Phillip west and St Kilda (which has a direct although infrequent bus service to Fishermans Bend).

Docklands is a fast growing area directly to the west of the CBD. Because of this growth, patterns may well have changed significantly since 2006.

Docklands employees by SLA:

For an employment area on the western side of the CBD, employees tended to live on the eastern side of the city – which is not what you would expect. But if they are coming via public transport, then trains from most parts of Melbourne provide relatively good access to Southern Cross Station, on the eastern edge of Docklands.

Docklands private transport commuter mode share:

Car mode share is significantly higher from the western suburbs, from which it is easier to drive to Docklands, and using public transport requires an indirect journey via Southern Cross.

However North Melbourne Station is only a short distance from Docklands. When the “E-Gate” site is redeveloped, it seems like a perfect opportunity to link the two with quality public transport (maybe a short tram extension, although we’d need a larger tram fleet). This might significantly increase public transport mode share and take pressure off the city loop railway.

Docklands employees commuting by private transport, by SLA:

The car numbers in 2006 were quite low, so we cannot read too much into them.

Suburban Employment Centres

(For subsequent centres, I will only show two maps, as car mode share is very high in most places)

While not a household name, Notting Hill is a relatively job dense area just north of the Clayton campus of Monash University.

Notting Hill employees by SLA:

You can see many workers live to the west, east and nearby north. But note that the two SLAs to the south (Kingston and Greater Dandenong) have a low average population density, so it is likely that the actual density of employees is higher to the south.

However there are also many employees from the Hallam and Berwick parts of Casey (which show as low density given the SLAs have a low urban density). There are fewer local jobs in Casey, meaning workers need to travel longer distances to work.

I would guess that nearby Clayton and Mulgrave industrial areas would show similar patterns (alas, I haven’t had time to analyse these areas).

Notting Hill private transport commuter mode share:

Notting Hill is full of cars (see the car parks on NearMap for yourself).

In 2006 there was a SmartBus route along Blackburn road (the eastern edge) and the 733 bus ran every 15 minutes in the peak on the western edge. East-west bus routes (693 and 742) run more like every 30 minutes in the peak. (All of the timetables hare hardly changed since 2006).

You can see on the map slightly lower car mode shares from the local area, but also up towards Blackburn (89%) – perhaps reflecting the attraction of the SmartBus service.

The south-eastern suburbs present a challenge: how does public transport service people who live in the suburbs of Casey and work in Notting Hill and surrounds? The current public transport system requires transferring from a low-frequency bus to a train, and then another (slightly more frequent) bus. Two transfers will struggle to compete with the car. Indeed, looking at VISTA 2007 data, it seems only 4.8% of public transport journeys from home to work in Melbourne involve two transfers.

There is a school of through that says bus routes should not be designed to connect everywhere to everywhere with a direct route – because you end up with a complex network of infrequent routes (than you would otherwise have with the same resources). However, if there are clear concentration of origins and destinations, might it make sense to run a direct service between the two?

Would a bus route that performs a collection function in Casey, runs express along the Monash freeway, and then performs a distribution function in Clayton/Notting Hill be viable? It may not need to run at a very high frequency, because transfers are not required. Perhaps the only way to find out is to do a trial (at a not insignificant cost). Such a service might not need operate extended hours, particularly if a guaranteed ride home was provided by employers who can otherwise save on parking costs. It would also still be possible to travel home using other public transport routes in off-peak times.

And now for the other major destination of Casey workers…

Dandenong South employees by SLA:

A majority of Dandenong South employees come from Casey to the east, although there are also quite a few from the Frankston area.

I think the lack of an east-west bus route connecting Casey to South Dandenong is probably one of the largely missing links in the Melbourne’s public transport network. Recent focus in the area has been on upgrading north-south bus routes (901 and 857), which will certainly help the a couple of thousand commuters from those corridors. But the 6000 odd employees from the east gained no better access following the December 2010 local bus upgrade.

Dandenong South private transport commuter mode share:

You can see almost universal car dependence for South Dandenong employees. It only drops to 91% in central Dandenong (sorry that number has been obscured by the shaded areas on the map).

Moonee Ponds employees by SLA:

While not recognised as a central activities district (CAD), Moonee Ponds actually has quite a bit of activity, includes some multi-storey office blocks (something other centres could only hope to achieve). Most workers come from the local area, or the nearby north-west.

Moonee Ponds private transport commuter mode share:

The reason I have included Moonee Ponds is the low car mode share from the Brunswick area (to the east). Perhaps this reflects the high frequency east-west bus routes that feed into Moonee Ponds from Brunswick? That said, the number of employees coming from Brunswick is low. Maribyrnong is connected to Moonee Ponds by one tram and two bus routes, but still 79% of people drive.

Central Activities Districts

The Melbourne @ 5 Million urban plan for Melbourne places greater emphasis on six suburban regional centres, to act like CBDs in the suburbs. I’ve taken a look at a couple of these that are perhaps better served by public transport. My earlier post showed many of these centres already have very low public transport mode shares.

Box Hill employees by SLA:

People working in Box Hill largely come from the local area, but from the north (Manningham west) and towards the east along the Lilydale and Belgrave rail lines. This is good – in theory – for the rail system in that it frees up some capacity on citybound trains in the morning.

But do they use public transport to get there?

Box Hill private transport commuter mode share:

Unfortunately not – car mode share is 85%+ for most of the eastern catchment. It drops to 59% in the Box Hill SLA itself – probably a combination of walking and bus access.

In 2006, 90% of commuters from Manningham west drove. This might have been reduced slightly by the introduction of the 903 SmartBus which runs every 7.5 minutes in the peak (although the previous 291 service was around every 10 mins in the peak). Some local routes connecting Manningham to Box Hill do run frequently in peak periods (eg 279, 286).

Dandenong CAD employees by SLA:

Central Dandenong attracts workers from the local area, particularly to the south and east. No surprises there.

Dandenong CAD private transport commuter mode share:

Car mode share is very high, with slight dips in the central Dandenong SLA (probably a fair amount of walking), the awkwardly U-shaped “Dandenong – remainder” SLA, and slightly lower in Pakenham. Overall Public transport mode share to central Dandenong is most around 4-7% (refer earlier post). It will be interesting to look at 2011 mode share from Frankston and Knox, which are now connected to Dandenong via the 901 SmartBus service.

I have looked at many other employment areas, but for reasons of space and time, I have not included them in this post. Many of those have quite predictable patterns (eg most Footscray employees come from the western suburbs). I’ve attempted to pick out centres with more interesting patterns.

Concluding remarks

I’ve not seen this sort of analysis done elsewhere, and I think it is important evidence to support planning transport systems – particularly public transport.

In the above analysis I’ve identified some “missing links” in Melbourne’s public transport network, including:

  • Casey to South Dandenong
  • Western suburbs to Fishermans Bend (via Westgate Bridge)
  • Casey to Monash industrial area

It might also be worth investigating new links to short-circuit trips to near-CBD locations:

  • North Melbourne station to Docklands
  • South Yarra station to South Melbourne (other than where route 8 runs)
  • More peak trains stopping at Victoria Park station to allow for convenient bus connections to Parkville

But it also looks like ease of car parking is having an impact on public transport mode share. South Melbourne sees many car commuters from nearby suburbs that are well connected by tram. Many areas outside the inner city would offer free employee parking, and driving is likely to be faster than public transport in most cases, particularly where on-road public transport is not insulated from traffic congestion. Unfortunately the census does not include data on who pays for parking and vehicles, so analysis of this issue is limited by the data available.

My next post will focus on the Melbourne CBD, and following that I hope to look at employment destinations of various SLAs (where do the workers go, rather than where they come from).

Transport mode share to employment areas in Melbourne 2006

Fri 19 November, 2010

In another post, I’ve mapped out the transport mode shares by residential origins. These maps are fairly common. But what are the mode shares like for employment destinations across Melbourne?

In this post I have mapped out the public transport, car and bicycle mode shares for journey work in each “destination zone” (the smallest unit in the ABS journey to work census data) from the 2006 census.


  • In the mode share maps I have only shown zones with an employment density of 1000 people per square km or higher to avoid small sample sizes causing issues (people work almost everywhere, but I want to focus on denser employment areas).
  • I’ve removed “did not travel”, “worked from home”, “all other modes” and “method not stated” from my mode share calculations. We don’t know the real mode share, but hopefully the mode shares under “all other modes” and “method not stated” are not too different from those where we know the mode.

Employment Density

But before looking at mode shares, it is worth looking at employment density. To view these maps you’ll need to click to zoom (open them in a new window if you can).

You can see:

  • Dense employment in the inner city (no surprises)
  • Industrial areas like Monash, South Dandenong, Somerton, North Altona, Moorabbin, and Bayswater.
  • Major shopping centres (at least those that have their own destination zone) such as Werribee Plaza, Sunshine, Moonee Ponds, Northland, Box Hill, Doncaster Shoppingtown, Greensborough, Ringwood, Knox City, Chadstone, Fountain Gate, Southland, Forest Hill.
  • Other dense suburban spots include Tooronga (Coles headquarters) and Camberwell (shops plus some office buildings)

Looking at the inner city area:

Obviously the CBD is dense, but there is a corridor north of the CBD towards Melbourne University, and south along St Kilda Road. The densities are very high when you have high-rise buildings, so it is a little difficult to show the variation. But can at least look for building shadows on Near Maps.

Public Transport mode share

You can pretty clearly see a high public transport mode share for destinations in the inner city, and very low mode shares in the suburbs.

However there are a few spots in the suburbs with relatively higher public transport mode shares than surrounding areas:

  • Monash University Clayton campus (parking is not easy and this is a focal point for the local bus network)
  • Huntingdale near the station (unclear why the high mode share in 2006)
  • Moorabbin near the station (an activity centre including some office buildings)
  • Box Hill (a Central Activities District on a frequent train line and significant bus interchange).
  • Ringwood (also a Central Activities District on a rail junction in the outer east)

And the mode shares to large suburban shopping centres (remember these are journeys to work only) are surprisingly high (relatively anyway):

  • Chadstone 13%
  • Southland 12%
  • Northland 10%
  • Highpoint 10%
  • Doncaster (Shoppingtown) 8%
  • Fountain Gate 7%
  • Knox City 7%
  • Werribee Plaza 6%

An aside: it’s unfortunate that some shopping centre owners are less enthusiastic about providing good facilities for buses, even though around 1 in 10 of their workforce comes by bus (all of the above listed centres are not served by trains). I am now armed with some factoids.

Notably, public transport mode shares were quite low at three of the nominated Central Activities Districts (CADs), including Broadmeadows, Dandenong and Frankston. If these are to be successful CADs, then public transport will need to be made a much more attractive access mode. I suspect this requires a focus on the local bus networks, as peak rail services to these centres are already quite frequent).

So what about the inner city area? This map zooms in, and I’ve actually labelled the public transport mode share for each destination zone (again you will need to open the enlargement in a new tab to see).

You can see public transport has a high mode share in the CBD grid and surrounds. It peaks at 70% at a few places in the CBD grid.

But it drops off fairly quickly as you move away:

  • Mode share drops into the 21-45% range in the Southbank/South Melbourne area. Essentially most people need to transfer to tram to get there (the 55 tram runs through the middle of it, but the only real train interchange location is Flagstaff, in the north of the CBD)
  • The Parkville precinct has mode shares around 35% (accessible by frequent trams that do interchange with Melbourne Central station).
  • The northern parts of Docklands have only 22% public transport mode share. These areas are awkward to reach by public transport (long walk from Southern Cross station, a slow tram connection, or a walk from a bus stop)
  • The Dynon area (WNW of the CBD) has only 8% mode share, despite being served by frequent buses. This is probably to do with the industries present – freight transport (early starts) and the Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market (which opens at 3:30 am or 4:30 am depending on the day of the week).
  • St Kilda Road to the south of the CBD has many high-rise office blocks, but public transport mode share ranges from 23 to 32% in the lower section, despite extremely frequent tram services along St Kilda Road that provide direct access from many inner south-eastern suburbs. In the AM peak, the busiest direction for trams on St Kilda Road is actually southbound – as people transfer from trains at Flinders Street.  The new rail tunnel is proposed to run through the CBD and terminate at Domain Road. The tunnel won’t improve public transport access for the thousands of employees who live  in the inner south-east until it is extended to Caulfield (I’ll look at this in more detail in another post).
  • The Fishermans Bend area (across the river, WSW of the CBD) has mode shares around 5%. This area is served by buses from the CBD that actually have a peak flow out of the CBD in the AM peak. As I will show in another post, most of the workers in Fishermans Bend come from the western suburbs of Melbourne, and presumably a great many of them drive to work across the Westgate Bridge. There is one bus route (232) that runs across the Westgate Bridge and along Williamstown Road (which borders the Port Melbourne industrial area to the south), however it has a very limited catchment in North Altona.

If density is good for public transport, then where are the dense employment areas with low public transport mode share? The following map shows destination zones with employment density over 3000 per square kilometre and public transport mode share less than 10% (arbitrary cut-offs I realise):

These should be strong candidates for gaining greater public transport mode share, perhaps if they were better served by better public transport.

Walking through the locations:

  • Fishermans Bend already has reasonable peak period public transport, but it comes from the CBD, while the workers come from the western suburbs and have to transfer.
  • Werribee town centre and Werribee Plaza Shopping Centre – the bus routes to these centres run every 40 or 60 minutes in the peak.
  • Tooronga – the Coles Headquarters – a long walk from the station or nearby tram, or a half hourly north-south bus service. Not to mention some big hills and presumably cheap parking.
  • Large areas of Monash including Clayton, Notting Hill, Mount Waverley. Some parts of this area were serviced by SmartBus routes (703 along Blackburn and 888/9 along Springvale Roads) in 2006. Another (900) has been introduced along Wellington Road since. However issues in this area include that many of the employees come from the south-eastern suburbs (requiring transfers from a train as opposed to easy access from the Monash Freeway), and that the road grid spacing is large – many workplaces will be a long walk from bus stops.
  • Glen Waverley – around the train station. Note really sure why, it has good access by bus and train.
  • The Tally Ho business park in Burwood East (at the intersection of tram 75 and a SmartBus route 888/9). A classic car-orientated suburban business park (including a VicRoads office no less).
  • The south-eastern corner of Moorabbin – this area is served by a few peak period only bus trips.
  • Central Dandenong – many bus routes into Dandenong operate only hourly. A SmartBus route has since been introduced (901).
  • Fountain Gate – again many hourly or worse bus frequencies in the outer south-eastern suburbs.
  • Cranbourne Shops – many low frequency bus routes (some trips bypass the shopping centre in peak periods).
  • Central Frankston – on a train line, but many low frequency bus routes. A SmartBus route has since been introduced from the north (901).
  • A patch in Kew along Denmark Street. Which happens to include the VicRoads head office and Xavier College  (PT mode share around 9%).
  • Along Whitehorse Road in Blackburn and Mitcham, including areas a decent walk from the train stations. A SmartBus service (901) has just been introduced along this stretch of Whitehorse Road.
  • Bayswater industrial area – served by some peak period only bus deviations.
  • Heidelberg – just west of the rail line include the Austin Hospital. A SmartBus route (903) has since been introduced through Heidelberg. The area around Box Hill Hospital shows up – this may reflect the many shift workers involved in a hospital operation.
  • Preston around High Street. A SmartBus service (903) now goes through here also.
  • Broadmeadows – a Central Activities District which was at the end of a metropolitan train line in 2006 and buses ran relatively infrequently (many every 30-40 minutes). On Near Map it looks like half the landspace is occupied by car parking! It’s recently had two SmartBus routes introduced (901 and 902).
  • Sunshine, north of the station. The main retail area was developed away from the station and bus interchange and half the landscape is filled with car parking. A SmartBus route (903) now runs through this area. And would you believe there is a major VicRoads office there also?
  • Central Greensborough – two SmartBus routes have now been introduced to this centre (901 and 902), improving access from all directions

Car mode share

Public transport doesn’t represent the full sustainable transport mode share as many people can walk or cycle. So the following chart looks at non-sustainable mode share – ie cars.

Apart from the inner city areas, car clearly dominates. The furthest out any level of escape from the car reaches is St Kilda in the south, Brunswick in the north, and Glenferrie in the east (probably the Swinburne University campus).

In the inner city area:

You can see high car mode shares even near the city:

  • Car mode share is in the 60s around Melbourne University (the main university campus area itself at 40%)
  • Most of St Kilda Road around the 60s
  • 92% in Fishermans Bend
  • 80% in Abbotsford on the north side of Victoria Street (a very heavily congested street due to lack of options in the area)

But you can also see the area immediately east of the CBD block at 28%. This block is full of decision makers from the Parliament House and several central agencies of state government. Is that encouraging? For the record: census day in 2006 was a parliamentary sitting day.

Bicycle mode share

Finally, a look at bicycle mode share (although actually this is any trip involving bicycle, including riding to a train station). This is a bit unkind because it all depends on the weather of the day (I cannot find records, but as I recall it was not a very rainy day).

The numbers are very small, but there are a few standouts:

  • 10% mode share to the main Melbourne University campus (and remember, this is only journeys to work, not journeys to study)
  • 9% mode share to the Victorian College of the Arts in Southbank
  • 8% in central Fitzroy Street, around Brunswick Street. Very bike friendly streets in this area, and car parking is more limited.

It will be very interesting to see these numbers for 2011, as there has been a boom in cycling in Melbourne in recent year.

A future post will look at where employees come from for each major employment area. Do public transport join homes and workplaces well?