How can Council operate effectively?

The City of Yarra manages 491 kilometres of footpaths and 260 kilometres of road pavement in accordance with multiple strategies, policies and plans, including a Transport Strategy. Unfortunately, the management of our streets is spread between two departments:

  • Infrastructure and Environment
  • City Sustainability and Strategy

This can lead to a loss of accountability, expenditure efficiency, productivity, and engagement. There is no single department head who can be held accountable for delivering key targets or key performance indicators related to transport. Council officers find that they have to obtain approval from multiple departments before a project can proceed. Cross-departmental issues, such as how best to allocate street space to different transport modes, have no clear process for resolution.

For example, the authority to designate on-street parking bays as either un-restricted, time-restricted or permit-restricted lies within the ‘Parking and Compliance’ team within ‘City Sustainability and Strategy’, who also manage enforcement of parking fines. A better approach would be for strategic decisions regarding the allocation of public space to be made by the ‘City Strategy’ or ‘Strategic Transport’ teams, and tasking the ‘Parking and Compliance’ team to focus only on compliance.


Streets Alive Yarra proposes that the City of Yarra unify all activities related to transport under a new department titled ‘Transport for Yarra’. The new department would be modelled after Transport for London, and in Yarra’s case would be responsible for managing:

Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra
  • Infrastructure: design, construction and maintenance of road pavements, laneways, footpaths, bicycle paths, shared paths, off-road paths, public transport stops.
  • Strategy: development and execution of the Transport Strategy, Safe Travel Strategy, Parking Strategy, Car Sharing Strategy, street space allocation, with a view to implementing Yarra-wide walking and cycling networks over ~ 10 years.
  • Parking: management of on-street parking permits, metered parking bays, parking sensors and public bicycle parking provision.
  • Planning: review of traffic impact assessments for major development applications.
  • Research: mobility counters and data analytics.
  • State government consultation: regarding major roads, public transport and strategic cycling corridors, and application for state government grants.
  • Community consultation: via a new Streets Advisory Committee, replacing the Active Transport Advisory Committee.
  • Revenue: $50 million per year from parking fees, permits and fines, and additional state government grants for specific projects.
  • Expenditure: $30 million per year, with $10 million for maintenance, $10 million for new infrastructure and $10 million for salaries, returning $20 million to general revenue.

A unified team, under a single departmental head, can leverage all possible synergies, ranging from strategy through to budget, operations and maintenance.

Centrality of parking policy

Street Alive Yarra expects that the biggest benefit will occur as the new Transport for Yarra team realises the centrality of parking policy. On-street parking is the ‘elephant in the room’ because it consumes so much public space, which impacts upon any attempt to re-allocate how we use our public land (streets) to enhance access, equity, and productivity.

Image credit: Bizarro Comics

Streets Advisory Committee

Streets Alive Yarra proposes that the Active Transport Advisory Committee be reconstituted as the Streets Advisory Committee, and that membership be broadened to include rolling on a wheelchair, public transport, driving, parking, trees, seating, place making and 20-minute neighbourhoods. This would enable council to more productively obtain feedback on how best to allocate space to competing interests. We note that council used to have an advisory committee that considered traffic and parking, back in 2003.

Image credit: City of Yarra, Streets Alive Yarra.

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