The Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity (VISTA) analysis highlights the walking is a fundamental part of the public transport system. Nearly every trip involving public transport made in Melbourne also includes some walking at either the origin or destination.
The analysis finds that for trips from home, the median length of a walking trip to a train station is 721 metres, while the median walk to a bus stop is 390 m and to a tram stop is 360 m. These are in line with the commonly accepted distances of 800 m to a train station and 400 m to a bus stop.
Despite ongoing efforts by state and federal governments to facilitate driving to train stations through increasing numbers of free car parks at suburban stations, walking is easily the most common way for people to access stations. Almost half of people walk from home to the station (48%), compared to about one in five (21%) who drive a private vehicle and a further 14% who are a vehicle passenger. When trips to train stations from all locations (including from workplaces) are considered, two thirds of people accessing the train system walk.
One of the goals of this research was to better understand travel patterns to centres in middle and outer suburbs, and the impact of centre design on people’s mode choice. A range of selected centres were classified into mainstreet style strip shopping centres (like Altona, Blackburn, Reservoir and Mount Waverley), self-contained, car-oriented centres of similar size (such as Casey Central in Narre Warren South, Croydon Central and Westfield in Airport West), and larger selfcontained, car-oriented centres.
While this study finds car parking and vehicle access is typically not a high priority for shoppers and discourages walking, the Victorian planning system encourages the development of vehicle oriented suburban centres. Moreland Council found that 24% of the Coburg activity centre within 200 m of the station is dedicated to ground level parking. It is important to change the direction of activity centre and train station planning to develop multi-modal, people-oriented centres in the suburbs and growth areas.
Overall, the evidence supports policy approaches which seek to integrate land use and transport, with housing, activity centres and public transport located in close proximity. Where we have made driving convenient, people drive. If urban design is not car-dominated and destinations are within walking distance, a high proportion of people will walk, even in the outer suburbs.
Main recommendations for government:
- Adopt a target for walking mode share. Based on this research, a target of 20% of all trips to be walked in their entirety by 2035 would be appropriate.
- Develop a walking strategy with action plan and attached funding
- Establish a fund for the development of safe, convenient walking routes (Principal Pedestrian Networks) within 800 metres walk of train stations and/or activity centres. This should be an ongoing investment, with $100 million over 4 years as a minimum starting point.
- Maintain, strengthen and implement policies that seek to locate housing within convenient walking distance of activity centres and high frequency public transport. This is likely to be within 800 metres of activity centres and train stations and 400 metres of tram and high frequency bus stops.