Melbourne’s transport-rich and transport-poor areas

Inspired by Daniel Bowen’s review of service levels at Melbourne’s rail stations, I wanted to compare numbers of train, tram and bus departures across Melbourne as a whole.

This map draws on Public Transport Victoria’s timetables in GTFS format, showing total number of train, tram and bus departures on a representative weekday (17 April 2019). Stops within 150m of each other are amalgamated, to combine bus or tram stops on opposite sides of the road, or at an intersection (but sometimes also inadvertently collecting a larger grouping of stops, for example in the CBD).

Use the layers control (top right) to see train, tram and bus separately.

The disparity between tram and bus services is striking, with many tram stops having over 200 or 250 departures per day, and many bus stops under 150.

As the tram services are mostly confined to inner suburbs, this is reflected in higher service levels in inner suburbs, compared to outer. Where tram routes penetrate the outer suburbs, they provide corridors of better service than in most bus-only suburbs a similar distance from the CBD.

The next map shows the same departure counts a different way. The city is divided into a grid of hexagon cells spaced 500m apart, and the number of departures per cell (aggregated for all transport modes) is counted up.

Individual location results can depend on whether a stop grouping happens to fall within a single cell or be split between two or three. But the same overall patterns emerge as in the first map. The highest levels of service are in the inner suburbs served by the tram network, and along the radial train lines. The few radial SmartBus routes show up more strongly in this map.

The number of departures is only part of the story in measuring transport disadvantage. Whether the services go anywhere useful, and how quickly they get there, are also important.

But these departure counts do help reveal the (unsurprising) imbalance in levels of service across Melbourne.

The underlying satellite imagery is also useful in revealing how the transport network fails to cover some of the built-up areas at the western, northern and south-eastern edges of the city. Many of the uncovered areas are industrial, perhaps reflecting transport planning that measures how well routes cover where people live, but not necessarily where people work.

Data credits: public transport data from Public Transport Victoria under CC BY 4.0

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