Draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

Infrastructure Victoria have released Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy for community consultation. It’s a 274 page report with 95 recommendations, covering:

  • Confront long-term challenges
  • Manage urban change
  • Harness infrastructure for productivity and growth
  • Develop regional Victoria
Image credit: Infrastructure Victoria

Many of the 95 recommendations impact on the City of Yarra, and how we build a more beautiful, liveable and accessible city.

Integrated land use and infrastructure planning can better manage change in communities and unlock greater benefits. It can deliver a shared aspiration for a city or region and help coordinate investments and policy reforms to achieve that vision. It can support broader benefits such as higher productivity, greater social interaction and capital, and a more sustainable urban footprint.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

Notable recommendations

Notable recommendations include:

  • Publish Victoria’s transport plan
  • Develop an interconnected open space network
  • Partner with local governments to fund pedestrian infrastructure
  • Transform cycling in Melbourne
  • Improve walking and cycling data
  • Reallocate road space
  • Plan for public transport accessibility, including tram stop upgrades
  • Increase and extend the Melbourne Congestion Levy on parking
  • Trial full-scale congestion pricing in inner Melbourne
  • Trial demand-responsive pricing on parking in inner Melbourne

More detail

33. Publish Victoria’s transport plan. Immediately develop and publish Victoria’s integrated transport plan. Require transport and land use plans to align with each other.

Because Victoria does not have a transparent transport plan, transport planning intentions are not clear, and the land use response can be ill-timed, haphazard, or miss opportunities. Other agencies, local government and the private sector cannot use it to coordinate their investments. For example, local governments cannot deliver significant local transport infrastructure properly without knowing its connection to the wider transport network, such as in delivering local streets, and walking and cycling infrastructure.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

Thinking beyond usual solutions can support change and create liveable urban places. This includes reimagining how spaces are used in urban areas and investing in local solutions. For instance, roads take up a significant proportion of land in established areas of Melbourne. Active transport investment can deliver many benefits, such as reduced congestion, improved health, vehicle operating savings, environmental benefits and infrastructure savings. For each person who cycles 20 minutes to work and back, Victoria could benefit by $14.30; and each person who walks 20 minutes to work and back could benefit Victoria by $8.48. These savings are attributed to increased physical activity, reduced morbidity and mortality.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

37. Develop an interconnected open space network. Immediately provide direct funding, and reform the developer open space contribution scheme, to create an interconnected open space network and extend Melbourne’s urban tree canopy.

Public open space, including parks and local streets, provides land to plant more trees and vegetation, developing a canopy, helping reduce urban temperatures41 and reduce local flooding impacts. From our consultation with local communities in densifying suburbs, safe, adaptable multi-functional spaces and green space are essential in managing the impacts of greater residential densities.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

38. Partner with local governments to fund pedestrian infrastructure. Partner with local government to fund pedestrian infrastructure upgrades to connect people to priority places, including central Melbourne, the Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster, other activity centres and railway stations.

Walkable cities and suburbs deliver many benefits. Providing access to open spaces and other local amenities, footpaths take up less land and cost less than roads and public transport. People walking more often helps reduce road congestion and public transport crowding, improves air quality and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Walking also supports overall health and social inclusion. A daily 20-minute daily brisk walk can reduce the chance of early death by between 16% and 30%, increase life expectancy by up to three years and help prevent chronic diseases. One study estimates a kilometre walked every day represents a health benefit with a value of $1.68.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

39. Transform cycling in Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. In the next five years, deliver separated cycle ways and invest in train station bicycle parking facilities to expand the cycling network in Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. Immediate priorities include connections within and between Melbourne CBD and surrounding suburbs, and connections to the Monash, Latrobe and Sunshine National Employment and Innovation Centres.

More than half of vehicle trips in Melbourne are short trips of less than six kilometres. Converting even a small proportion of trips to cycling can help reduce localised congestion, improve air quality and cut carbon emissions. Cycling is one of the cleanest and most space efficient modes of transport. Cycling for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can reduce the physical inactivity disease burden by 26%. Cycling infrastructure has low costs compared to other transport modes.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

40. Improve walking and cycling data to better estimate travel impacts and benefits. Immediately begin developing better walking and cycling information and data. In the next three years, incorporate this data and information into Victorian Government transport models used for strategic and project planning, and project appraisal.

Maintaining amenity of growing urban areas requires thinking differently about transport options and considering the value of walking and cycling. Properly incorporating walking and cycling into evidence-based planning, investment and reform requires being able to assess these modes on an equal basis with motorised transport.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

41. Reallocate road space to priority transport modes. Immediately begin delivering road space reallocation initiatives to assist with COVID-19 recovery, including projects to better support and enforce priority movement through streets and places. Adopt a 5-year target for delivery of further road space allocation initiatives. Legislate for faster, simpler, and more consultative road space reallocation in government decision-making.

Roads take up significant space in urban environments. Over time, more people and more freight move along roads that stay the same size. Overcrowded streetscapes can degrade the vibrancy, character and inclusivity of local communities. Different transport modes, like walking, cycling, public transport, electric scooters, or cars, differently affect places and segments of the transport network. For example, too many cars cause congestion, and some mode combinations cause conflicts in conventional street layouts. Resolving this requires a more deliberate approach to designing and using roads, beyond simply funnelling maximum traffic along them. Instead, roads should prioritise space for better movement or place functions. This approach concedes road space is finite and must be managed for all – not only vehicles. It means collaboratively managing all space on a street, from the buildings on one side to those on the other, and not only specific pieces managed by individual agencies, such as footpaths or tram tracks.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

44. Plan for public transport accessibility, including tram stop upgrades. Release a new Accessible Public Transport Action Plan within one year and fund public transport accessibility upgrades, including priority tram stops, to achieve the legislated 2032 accessibility targets.

Infrastructure needs to cater for the diversity of needs from a changing population. More accessible public transport is easier to use for many people, including people with disability, older Victorians, people with injuries or chronic health conditions, or people using prams, walking frames or carrying luggage. Inaccessible public transport can be a barrier for many to fully participate in the community, including preventing people from reaching jobs, services or participating in community life. It can also constrain the mobility and participation of their carers. One in five Victorians has a disability, and nearly one in six is aged over 65, increasing to more than one in five in the next 30 years. More accessible public transport removes discrimination against people with disability. Under Australian law, public transport networks are required to be fully accessible by 2032.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

50. Increase and extend the Melbourne Congestion Levy on parking. In the next two years, review the Melbourne Congestion Levy on parking to increase its value, expand the properties it applies to, and cover a wider area including Richmond, South Yarra, Windsor and Prahran. Consider applying a similar levy to other highly congested parts of Melbourne which have good public transport alternatives.

Like other measures designed to reduce the amount of driving during peak to the CBD, an increase in the levy is unlikely to have significant negative equity impacts because peak time drivers to the CBD tend to have above average incomes. A further shift to public or active transport could be achieved by extending the congestion levy to on-street parking. This is likely to prompt local governments to either increase or apply charges for parking, or else prohibit parking at locations which would not return revenue to cover the levy or yield other benefits. This is likely to further reduce congestion, including that caused by cruising for cheap parking. Spaces withdrawn from parking can create more room for through traffic or be reallocated for cycling, walking or other uses.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

52. Trial full-scale congestion pricing in inner Melbourne. In the next five years, trial full-scale congestion pricing in inner Melbourne.

Congestion on the roads means longer journeys with increasingly unpredictable travel times. International evidence shows that introducing congestion pricing in cities such as London, Stockholm and Milan had a sustained effect on reducing congestion. Inner Melbourne experiences the city’s worst congestion, so easing it would yield considerable economic and social benefits.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

53. Trial demand-responsive pricing on parking in inner Melbourne. Trial demand-responsive pricing on street and council-controlled parking in inner Melbourne in the next five years.

Currently, several factors combine to deliver inefficient outcomes in on- and off-street parking in Melbourne. Local government policies have kept the price of parking low or free, imposing time restrictions instead. At present, 96% of trips in Greater Melbourne end in free parking. More than half (55%) of people who regularly drive during the weekday peak have access to free, time-unlimited parking and just 17% of those who regularly drive during the weekday peak pay for parking. These figures show that the price of parking across the city – and especially in the inner city – does not reflect the cost of providing it.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

High-priority actions to assist the recovery from COVID-19

Out of the 95 recommendations, the report highlights several as priorities to assist our recovery from COVID-19, including support for active transport:

Enable more active transport and increase interconnected open space. Many more people would like to walk or cycle for both exercise and work journeys as a result of COVID-19. Providing more active transport infrastructure and high quality, connected open green space as soon as possible will enable people to maintain their physical health and travel safely. Delivering this infrastructure can be done rapidly and will provide short- term economic stimulus.

Victoria’s draft 30-year infrastructure strategy

Our view

Streets Alive Yarra supports the draft recommendations highlighted in this article, and urges the state government to implement them.

Have your say

Have your say on the draft 30-year infrastructure strategy at Engage Victoria.

Published 9th December 2020