The transport story so far
The travel and transport patterns in the City of Whittlesea identify many issues and challenges, including:
- residents are heavily reliant on private motor vehicles for transport
- traffic congestion is the primary community concern
- traffic congestion and a lack of access to public transport are more critical to our residents in the northern part of the municipality that the south
- infrastructure provision has not kept pace with population growth and development
- current public transport provision is insufficient to meet people's needs - in terms of frequency, reliability and general access
- trains are the most popular form of public transport but only for a small percentage of the population
- public transport usage suffers from a lack of accessibility and infrequency of service
- cycling is moderately popular as a form of recreation
- walking is very popular as a recreation activity
- residents walk to amenities and facilities when they are within walking distance, if footpaths are adequate and there are pedestrian crossings
- better footpaths and more bike lanes or off-road paths are needed to encourage more cycling and walking in the municipality
- rat-running through local residential streets by motorists seeking alternatives to clogged arterial roads impacts adversely on resident's local amenity.
Travel in our municipality is framed by 3 north-south corridors:
- Plenty Valley corridor
- Epping Road/High Street corridor
- Yan Yean Road corridor
Capacity of these 3 corridors fall short of accommodating our current population at peak travel periods.
Growth in the Epping North/Wollert and Mernda/Doreen areas will result in significantly more congestion along these corridors.
Recent Victorian Government commitments to the Mernda Rail Extension and the O'Herns Road interchange (with Federal Government assistance) will improve our transport network, although further infrastructure is required.
Projected traffic congestion
In 2015, transport modelling of our road network was undertaken with the purpose of identifying road transport infrastructure needs and to indicate priorities over the next 20 years.
Not surprisingly, this analysis showed that projected population growth and changes to land use would result in significantly more traffic congestion in the municipality if the road network and transport system was not improved.
The model highlighted insufficient capacity along the north-south transport corridors and east-west roads such as Cooper Street.
The existing transport network in the established areas of our municipality is overused and need improvements to cope with expected population growth.
This is due to an increase in the number of people getting to and from work, and visiting entertainment and shopping precincts from the outer growth areas.
The forecast growth of 145,000 residents will create a further 450,000 trips per week .
High levels of population growth are projected to continue, particularly in the north of the municipality. The challenge for growth areas is to match this rate of development with appropriate infrastructure.
Job creation is likely to be slower than population growth, highlighting the need to address transport capacity issues in line with population growth to provide access to employment.
During morning and evening peak times, journey to work tips stretch the capability of the network in both growth and established areas with congestion highest along Cooper Street and the Epping Road/High Street corridor.
Employment in the municipality is concentrated in the Cooper Street employment area in Epping (near the Hume Freeway), in Epping Central and South Morang and in the Thomastown industrial area adjacent to the Metropolitan Ring Road.
The majority of existing jobs generated are from small businesses, with 25% of all businesses involved in manufacturing. The growth of local employment is key to addressing traffic congestion within the City.
Local jobs take the pressure off congested road networks, particularly those that are centred around public transport hubs such as Epping Central, Plenty Valley Town CEntre and the future Mernda Town Centre.
The social and health impacts of long commute times as a consequence of traffic congestion is a significant issue in our municipality.
Residents fare worse in health, community engagement and work-life balance compared to the Victorian average.
The impacts of long commute times in the municipality are projected to get worse if the provision of transport infrastructure and services are not improved.
How we will meet the challenges
We have undertaken a number of initiatives to meet our future travel and transport needs.
Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS)
Our ITS outlines a number of priority actions to improve local transport infrastructure and meet the transport needs of our community.
Jobs that are closer to where people live create more convenient trips to work, and places less pressure on already congested roads and public transport.
Creating local jobs is integral to meeting our transport challenges. In turn, jobs and investment growth is achieved by enabling journeys to work, ensuring accessibility of freight movement, and creating great spaces and places that result in human scale movement and accessibility.
Sustainability is delivered by lessening the negative impacts of motor vehicles and through good planning and better governance.
Working together to improve our road network
In the growth areas, we have inherited an existing rural arterial road network that needs updating to accommodate urban trips like walking, cycling, public transport and shorter car journeys.
The capacity of the road network can be increased by dealing with traffic flow through intersections.
One of the major ways to take pressure off peak hour congestion and move large numbers of people, is through improved public transport.
We work with developers to provide infrastructure for new developments and surrounding areas. Timely provision of this infrastructure assists with local connectivity via paths and roads, thereby building community cohesion and creating economic activity and local job opportunities.
Good local transport infrastructure also encourages the use of local facilities, creates efficiencies for our facilities and reduces the burden on major transport infrastructure.
We have prioritised a number of transport improvements based on a matrix which includes evaluation against the following criteria:
- moving people
- benefits including time savings
- moving freight
- road space allocation
- strategic intent including sustainability, place, health and wellbeing.
The road network in the north-south corridors currently has a lack of capacity and a lack of connections to the east-west corridor.
We are seeking to address these deficiencies by advocating for increased capacity of arterial roads in 2 key ways:
- urbanisation of previously rural roads, allowing all modes to safely utilise the infrastructure
- increasing capacity of road networks by providing additional lanes.
The timing and sequence of projects and actions is indicated by a priority of high or very high.
|Bridge Inn Road Urbanisation and duplication||Very High||Transitioning rural roads to roads that are suitable for an urban area is part of developing growth areas. Urbanising Bridge Inn Road in Mernda will help improve the flow of all modes of traffic by upgrading facilities for all road users, as well as improving the footpath network. It will also assist to ease congestion in Yan Yean Road. The long-term needs will be duplication of the road.|
|O'Herns Road interchange||Very High||
Funding committed: due 2018/2019
The construction of the O'Herns Road interchange will enable Epping North residents and the Cooper Street employment area much improved access to the Hume Freeway. It will also decrease congestion on the local road network including Epping Road, Cooper Street and Miller Street.
|Edgars Road extension, Willandra Drive to O'Herns Road||Very High||
Edgars Road is a north-south arterial road from Mahoneys Road in Thomastown to Cooper Street in Epping that also connects to the Metropolitan Ring Road. A missing link exists between Cooper Street and O'Herns Road that could provide connectivity to the Cooper Street employment area and the residential estates north of O'Herns road.
The extension will provide an alternative north-south arterial connection to Epping Road as this section of Edgars Road would redistribute traffic through Epping and Epping North. It will reduce congestion on High Street, Epping Road, Mill Street and Cooper Street and increase peak period capacity along Epping Road and Cooper Street.
Wider benefits include bus, walking and cycling connections from the residential estates to Epping Central and the Cooper Street employment area to provide an increased level of accessibility for the community. Improved employment opportunities in Epping Central will also arise.
|Yan Yean Road: duplication from Kurrak Road to Bridge Inn Road and urbanisation to Arthurs Creek Road||Very High||Duplication of Yan Yean Road from the end of the current duplication project at Kurrak Road to Bridge Inn Road and its urbanisation to Arthurs Creek Road will complete the arterial road network. This will enable Doreen and Mernda residents to have improved access to employment and transport hubs at Greensborough and Eltham.|
|Epping Road duplication: Findon Road to Cragieburn Road||Very High||
Epping North and Wollert are growing exponentially, with the combined population expected to grow from 28,114 to 40,154 residents by 2021 and 70,240 residents by 2031. This growth is increasing traffic volumes in the north-south corridor along Epping Road. Duplication of Epping Road from Findon Road to Cragieburn Road is required to reduce congestion and improve access to local community destinations, Epping Central and employment hubs to the south of the municipality.
We are advocating for the Victorian Government and VicRoads to prioritise delivery of this project.
|Plenty Road widening: McKimmies Road to Bush Boulevard||High||
Funding committed: due 2017/2018
An additional lane in Plenty Road from McKimmies Road to Bush Boulevard will increase the capacity of Plenty Road, which is the most congested road in outer Melbourne.
We are working with VicRoads to enable its timely delivery.
|E6: Hume Freeway to M80||High||
Construction of the E6 within the existing easement from the Hume Freeway to M80 Ring Road will provide a fourth north-south corridor and improve capacity and access to regional employment areas from the northern growth areas.
The form of the E6 is subject to further community consultation and traffic modelling.
|Koukoura Drive: O'Herns Road to Cragieburn Road||High||Construction of an arterial road connecting Epping to Wollert is required to link the Cooper Street employment area for freight and journey to work trips.|
|Cragieburn Road: Epping Road to Hume Freeway urbanisation and duplication||High||Duplication and the urbanisation of this connection will provide an important east-west link for Wollert residents, improving access to the Hume Freeway and employment hubs such as Broadmeadows and Melbourne airport.|
|Plenty Road additional lane: Bush Boulevard to Bridge Inn Road||High||
Funding committed: due 2019/2020
Many trips generated in the Mernda/Doreen growth corridor are destined for Plenty Valley Town Centre and/or employment areas to the south of the municipality.
Adding an additional lane to Plenty Road from Bush Boulevard to Bridge Inn Road was recently announced in the Victorian Government budget and will increase road capacity to address these trip patterns.
We are working with VicRoads to enable its timely delivery.
|Childs Road duplication: E6 corridor to High Street||Very High||
The duplication of Childs Road, from the E6 corridor including the bridge construction across Darebin Creek will provide continuity of the duplicated road network and eliminate lengthy delays at localised bottlenecks.
|Findon Road extension: Williamsons Road to Plenty Road||Very High||
The extension of Findon Road from Williamsons Road to Plenty Road will create the only continuous east-west link across the City, linking the existing north-south transport corridors Hume Freeway, Epping Road/High Street and Plenty Road. Improved regional access will be realised through this project, as well as improved local access to the proposed Marymede Station and the Danaher employment precinct. Council has committed to the construction of the crossing of the rail corridor as part of the Mernda Rail extension.
Duplication of Findon Road and its declaration as an arterial road will be required in the near future.
|Donnybrook Road: Epping Road to Hume Freeway urbanisation and duplication||High||
Donnybrook will grow from almost 150 residents to almost 50,000 in the next 20 years. This project will service the growing population by providing an upgraded arterial road connection to the Hume Freeway and employment in the town centres and employment areas to the west.
A collector road is a smaller, Council owned road that aims to provide connections and links between residential areas, local facilities and destinations - as well as provide connections to arterial roads and public transport.
The completion of many of these links is necessary to create optimal circulation in our local street network.
Collector roads in growth areas require working with developers to enable delivery via developer contributions or by direct developer funding.
Links to local destinations
|Collector road||Priority level||Description|
|Riverdale Road (Mernda Town Centre)||Very High||Provides a connection linking residential estates to public transport, Mernda Railway Station and Mernda.|
|Civic Drive extension||Very High||Provides a link between Morang Drive and Bush Boulevard and better access to Plenty Valley Town Centre.|
|Sissinghurst Parade||High||Key link providing a ring road of Mernda Town Centre facilitating movement circulation.|
|Coulstock Street||High||A major road that will provide the ability to move more easily through Epping Central.|
|Berry Lane||High||Provides circulation within and to the Mernda Town Centre.|
|Coolgardie Road||High||Provide a direct link from Doreen South to the Mernda Town Centre for walkers, cyclists, buses and motorists.|
Links to arterial road network
|Edgars Road||Very High||O'Herns Road to Rockfield Street links activity centres in the growing area of Epping North and Wollert to arterial roads.|
|Cotters Road||High||O'Herns Road to Rockfield Street will be a key link allowing circulation from residential areas to the arterial road network.|
|Painted Hills Road||Very High||Links to both the arterial road network and the public transport corridor. It is a key link in the local movement network by providing more options for travel to local destinations for the Mernda residential area and unlocking the local street network.|
|Hayston Boulevard||High||Harvest Home Road to the south provides a permeable road network in a growth area.|
To free up the capacity of the road network, we advocate for and/or undertake upgrades to major intersections.
The capacity of the road network is greatly enhanced by unlocking intersections that cause delays to trips.
|Dalton Road and Childs Road, Epping||Very High||
Currently under construction.
Traffic signals at this intersection to replace the current roundabout are critical. Cyclist and pedestrian movements are perceived as unsafe and motor vehicle traffic is delayed during morning and evening peaks.
The Victorian Government has recently committed funding towards this project.
|O'Herns Road, Epping Road and Findon Road, Epping North||Very High||
Funding committed: due 2017
This intersection creates a critical bottleneck along the High Street and Epping Road corridor, more pronounced over recent years due to urban growth in Epping North.
An upgrade of the roundabout to traffic signals will improve traffic flow.
|Findon Road, Ferres Boulevard and The Lakes Boulevard, South Morang||Very High||
An uneven flow of motor vehicles causes significant delays at this intersection.
Traffic signals are required to increase the capacity of the current road network and minimise queue lengths in The Lakes Boulevard.
|O'Herns Road and Gateway Boulevard, Epping North||High||
Establishment of a new employment estate near this intersection will create a need to provide access for jobs and freight.
Traffic signals at this intersection will improve its functionality, especially for accessibility to the employment area.
|Plenty Road, Wallan Road and MacMeikan Street, Whittlesea||High||Conflicting traffic flows and pedestrian movements are needed to be regulated by traffic signals at this intersection to improve both safety and function.|
|Plenty Road and Bridge In Road, Mernda||Very High||Traffic lights and 4 lane divided roads to replace the roundabout are critical in helping to address congestion in Mernda. The upcoming development of the Mernda Town Centre (and Mernda Railway Station) will place significantly more pressure on this already congested intersection. Excellent pedestrian connections and an attractive streetscape will be an important contributor to the town centre environment.|
|Dalton Road and Settlement Road plus Dalton Road and Wood Street, Thomastown||High||The flow of traffic along Dalton Road is interrupted by these ineffective roundabouts. Pedestrian movements are restricted and difficult for those less ambulant.|
|Bridge Inn Road, Independence and Painted Hills Roads, Mernda||Very High||
Delivered in May 2017.
The flow of traffic along Bridge Inn Road causes major delays for those wishing to enter from Independence and Painted Hills Roads. The installation of traffic lights has improved traffic flow along Bridge Inn Road reducing major delays.
|Bridge Inn Road and Yan Yean Road, Doreen||Very High||
Improve intersection to ease traffic congestion and to assist with flowing traffic. Provide pedestrian amenities to allow convenient movements across the road(s).
Needs in growing areas
As development continues in our growth areas, there is an increasing number of intersection works required including:
- Bridge Inn Road and Sissinghurst Parade, Mernda
- Plenty Road and Everton Drive, Mernda
- Bridge Inn Road and Mernda Village Drive, Mernda
- Cragieburn Road and Koukoura Drive, Wollert
- Cragieburn Road and Edgars Road, Wollert
We have a lack of coverage, reliability and frequency of service in the current public transport network.
Expansion of the network must occur so that services meet the demands of the community including:
- rail network
- bus network
- tram/light rail network
- interchanges and amenities
The timing and sequence of projects and actions are indicated as either a high or very high in priority.
|Mernda Rail Extension||High||
Funding committed: due 2019
Expansion of the metropolitan rail network from the current terminus at South Morang to the future town centre at Mernda is required to improve the accessibility for the 45,000 residents of the Mernda and Doreen growth areas.
Provision of public transport has been out of reach for the majority of residents (prior to the bus rollout) being more than 400 metres from services. The extension will enable residents who use train services to access community facilities at Plenty Valley Town Centre and employment hubs at South Morang and the CBD.
|Rail improvements to growth areas||High||
The Network Development Plan - Metropolitan Rail - released by Public Transport Victoria in December 2012 identified and prioritised a number of metropolitan heavy rail projects to expand the network and service Melbourne's growth areas.
These projects seek to either increase and improve the quality and the capacity of the existing network or expand the network. They include:
|Wollert public transport corridor||Very High||
Land has been reserved for a public transport corridor from Lalor Station to the Wollert Town Centre with over 80% of the required corridor either secured or strategically reserved.
A public transport corridor through Epping North and Wollert will enable improved access to jobs, education and services. It will service up to 83,000 residents, provide access to approximately 35,000 jobs forecast in Epping Central and the Cooper Street employment area and better connect the City of Whittlesea to the inner Melbourne employment market. The project will also act as a catalyst for development in planned activity centres with train stations planned at the town centres of Aurora South, Aurora North and Wollert.
We are advocating for this public transport corridor to extend from Lalor Railway Station to Wollert Town Centre and accommodate a fixed-route public transport service.
While the development of the heavy rail is the key objective, interim measures such as rapid bus service could be a viable interim measure. A feasibility study is recommended in the draft Victoria Infrastructure Strategy that would identify timing and scope requirements.
|Train station parking||High||The provision of adequate car parking at train stations should be made to cater for commuters that drive to access train services. Currently residents are unable to find parking after 7am at most stations.|
|Mass transit to jobs||High||
Currently the most congested route for residents travelling to work is along the Plenty Valley corridor.
A high frequency public transport service connection from Mernda and Doreen linking the La Trobe employment cluster and Heidelberg with Mernda and Doreen is required. The feasibility and planning of the networks including transport technologies called for in the draft Victoria's Infrastructure Strategy will identify viable options. SmartBus services utilising an upgraded Plenty Road area is a reasonable interim measure.
|Activity centre accessibility||High||Activity centres are the second main destination by our residents. Major points of traffic congestion occur at activity centres. A review of bus routes will pinpoint how public transport services can provide levels of service to improve accessibility thus lessening congestion.|
|Epping North and Wollert bus services||Very High||
Delivered January 2016
Expansion of the bus network to Epping North and Wollert occurred in 2016. With the population of Epping North expected to reach over 54,000 by 2037, continuing expansion of the bus service in terms of frequency, span of service and coverage is required. Council plans to work with the Victorian Government and Transport for Victoria to ensure these services are provided in a timely manner. The expansion of bus services in this corridor, from one route to three routes is a need identified by Public Transport Victoria.
|Mernda and Doreen bus services||High||
Improving bus coverage to the growth areas of Mernda and Doreen will improve access to the local school network, the Plenty Valley Town Centre, South Morang Station and employment hubs such as the Latrobe National Employment Cluster and University Hill.
Future corridors to Mernda Town Centre, with co-ordinated train services, will be critical. This has been identified as a priority by Public Transport Victoria.
|Bus network expansion||High||We are advocating for a review of existing services to improve reliability, frequencies, span of service and more direct routes to help build utilisation of the bus network. There are opportunities to service popular destinations, such as activity centres and transport hubs, by building on popular routes and increasing frequencies on key routes such as the Plenty Road corridor. For example, popular destinations such as the Austin Hospital are not directly serviced by existing bus routes. Increased frequencies are needed along key north-south routes by building on popular routes in these corridors such as the 555 Epping to Reservoir.|
Tram/light rail network
|Tram Route 86 Extension||Very High||
The extension of Tram Route 86 from University Hill to the Plenty Valley Town Centre will improve access to local employment hubs, rail services at South Morang, local community destinations in University Hill and Plenty Valley Town Centre and regional education services at La Trobe and RMIT universities.
Land has been set aside along Plenty Road, Bush Boulevard and McDonalds Road. An extension of the tram would improve accessibility to 13,500 residents.
A feasibility study is being undertaken for Tram Route 86 to be extended from McKimmies Road to Plenty Valley Town Centre.
A further extension of Tram Route 86 from Plenty Valley Town Centre via The Lakes Boulevard to Plenty Road has been identified and requires further community input.
|Tram Route 86 interchange||High||We have been working with state agencies to facilitate the provision of an upgraded interchange at the current terminus at RMIT/University Hill. Where transfers are required between modes and/or between vehicles, it is imperative that this be made as continuous and comfortable as possible.|
|Tram Route 86 E Class Trams||
Advanced E Class trams, which have 46 seats and carry 210 passengers, are now providing service for customers along Tram Route 86.
The Victorian Government is introducing 70 E Class Trams into service by 2018.
|Amenities||High||Where transfers are required between modes and/or between vehicles it is essential that this transfer be facilitated to be as seamless as possible. Co-ordinating timetables to facilitate mode to mode trips is critical, as is safe and comfortable transfer interchanges. The provision of WI-FI on vehicles and especially at interchanges would enhance the comfort of users.|
|Bus and tram stops||High||We will work with Victorian agencies to continue the rollout of effectively located and fully accessible bus and tram stops. This will ensure that people are able to access bus and tram services in a comfortable and safe manner as hard stands, shelters, tactile tiles and connecting footpaths are provided as close as possible at both destination and origin.|
|Priority treatments||High||We will also ensure the provision of bus and tram priority treatments, such as bus lanes are included in the delivery of all road construction projects.|
|Darebin Creek corridor||High||
|Plenty Valley corridor||Very High||
|East west connectors||
|High Street corridor||Very High
|Train station links||Very High||
|Northern Regional Trails Strategy||High||A regional strategy has been developed that focuses on delivering regionally significant trails that connect multiple municipalities and regionally significant features. The priority trails identified for the City of Whittlesea include Edgars Creek Trail, Whittlesea Rail Trail, Yan Yean Pipe Trail, Plenty Road shared path and Merri Creek Trail link.|
A number of studies have been conducted into the needs of pedestrians in our municipality.
We have identified many gaps that exist in growth areas and have developed a schedule of projects to address these deficiencies.
Closing gaps in walking networks around schools is also a priority. Structure Plans for town centres have also identified infrastructure needs to improve accessibility, permeability and connectivity for pedestrians to and within activity areas.
Route analysis has identified needs along major transport corridors and these investigations can be grouped into key outcomes.
Council is undertaking some key initiatives to encourage travel:
|Connections to growth areas||High||
|Missing footpath priorities||Very High||
|Missing footpath priorities||High||
|Connections to activity centres||Very High||
|Connections to activity centres||High||
The way forward
Council will continue to:
- communicate and work with residents and community groups to ensure that all needs are identified and that they have the opportunity to inform the prioritisation of projects
- advocate to local Members of Parliament outlining the need to address transport and travel priorities
- advocate to government agencies such as Infrastructure Victoria, Infrastructure Australia, Transport for Victoria, Public Transport Victoria and VicRoads for project development and funding
- collaborate with Victorian Government agencies to continue the rollout of needed infrastructure
- undertake careful land-use planning to promote higher residential densities along and around public transport corridors
- foster job creation within the City of Whittlesea to reduce commuting distances and times for residents
- set aside sufficiently wide road reserves in growth areas to future proof the need to provide duplications, including bus lanes
- proactively monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of transport infrastructure and undertake minor improvements where necessary
- review and identify changes to travel patterns and prepare plans, projects and programs that address emerging transport infrastructure requirements to enable advocacy, facilitation and opportunity taking
- continue to collaborate and work with the development sector to deliver road network improvements within the growth corridor neighbourhoods
- continue to gather transport and land-use information, surveys, statistical data, scenario testing.