Outer Metropolitan Melbourne

For Melbourne to be a world-class connected city, our transport networks must reach well beyond its centre. RACV recognises how important our outer suburbs are to the overall health and vitality of our city, but is concerned about the following facts:

  •  Victoria’s population is forecast to increase from just over 6 million to approximately 10 million by 2050. Most will settle in Greater Melbourne, many in outer suburbs.
  • By 2031, our population in the outer suburbs will have overtaken the total population of Melbourne’s inner and middle suburbs.
  • It is estimated that by 2050, Melbourne’s transport networks will need to cope with 23 million trips per day, nearly double the current figure of 12.5 million.
  • To help cope with this population growth and set up outer Melbourne for success, RACV's 2018 Growing Pains plan sets out our recommended 142 transport infrastructure projects.

Use the interactive map below to see the projects and show your support for each project by voting.

RACV asked residents of Mernda, Officer and Point Cook about transport issues in their areas. Watch the videos below. 

A great place to live

Melbourne’s outer suburbs are a great place to live. The extra space, proximity to nature and affordable land make the outer fringe an attractive place for Melburnians to buy their first home, settle or retire. But none of the financial and lifestyle benefits of living in the outer suburbs can be realised if daily commutes are exhausting and even local travel is a struggle.

RACV wants outer communities to enjoy a wide range of transport options that are seamlessly linked, safe, convenient, efficient and affordable. To achieve these goals, RACV calls for urgent upgrades to ageing and stressed transport networks in our more mature outer suburbs in the north, east and south, plus the timely provision of transport infrastructure in our ever-expanding growth corridors, including some of our newest in the south-east, north and west.

A growing problem

For 10 years Victoria’s population growth has been the strongest of any Australian state or territory.

Victoria’s population will continue to grow and is forecast to increase from just over 6 million to approximately 10 million by 2050. Despite strong projected growth in Victoria’s regional areas, the vast majority will settle in Greater Melbourne, which continues to face the challenge of housing our growing population.

While new housing will be created through higher densities and urban renewal in the central city and established inner and middle suburbs across Melbourne, much of our new population is moving to its outer suburbs. By 2031, our population in the outer suburbs (which are the subject of this report) will have overtaken the total population of Melbourne’s inner and middle suburbs.

Expansion into the outer areas is not new for Melbourne. Land is cheaper on the fringe and many residents value space over proximity to the city. The State Government’s Plan Melbourne notes that Melbourne’s greenfield lots are the second-cheapest among Australia’s capital cities.  

Melbourne’s outer south-east has long been a corridor of major growth. By 2031 it is expected that Casey will have established itself as our most populous region with well over 400,000 residents, as many as Canberra. And after many years of steady growth in the south-east, growth is apace in Melbourne’s west and north. Data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that population growth in the south-east is being matched in our northern and western districts. Tarneit in the outer west had the largest population growth of any suburb in Australia over the past 10 years to 2016 and Doreen and Truganina ranked second and third for fastest-growing suburbs.

Not only is the direction of growth expanding across outer Melbourne, so too is its intensity. Plan Melbourne notes that in recent years, average residential densities have increased from 15 to around 18 dwellings per hectare. Medium and high-density housing is now a standard component of new subdivisions so that the average population density of suburbs such as Plumpton in the west will be the same, or higher, than some of Melbourne’s established inner suburbs.

As growth continues, so does pressure on our transport system. It is estimated that by 2050, Melbourne’s transport networks will need to cope with 23 million trips per day, nearly double the current figure of 12.5 million. With close to half of Melbourne’s new housing and much of the city’s future supply of industrial land planned for our growth areas, the outer suburbs will shoulder a high proportion of the escalating transport load.  

It is vital that Melbourne’s growth areas are set up for success. Our governments must ensure that the right infrastructure is in place to accommodate this unprecedented and continuing growth in population and travel demand.

Outer-suburban pain

In the outer suburbs, transport networks have fallen behind and are not meeting the demands of our population. Inadequate public transport, gaps in the road network and congestion are creating barriers to mobility, including access to critical services, education and employment opportunities.  

In our outer suburbs, numerous arterial roads are currently at or beyond capacity, creating significant issues of congestion, delay and safety. In our more established outer suburbs, roads and public transport networks are ageing, do not meet current standards of safety and no longer meet demand. Rural-style roads with gravel shoulders that previously connected sparse settlements now carry thousands of commuters a day. Many radial routes that connect the outer suburbs to middle and inner Melbourne are effectively in gridlock during morning and afternoon peak periods. In growth areas, roads that were planned as neighbourhood and inter-regional connections remain lines on a map. 

In our public transport network, metropolitan railway lines play a crucial role in our daily commutes. Train travel has increased by 70 per cent in the past 10 years, and is expected to double again in the next 20 years. But the rail system is straining under prolonged growth in demand, and overcrowding is a daily issue for commuters on all lines. Railway stations that were previously the ‘end of the line’ are now well short of the urban-growth boundary, leaving entire communities without efficient access to education and employment. At stations, car parking is full before 7am, forcing commuters to start their travel day earlier and earlier just to secure a place in the car park.

The early provision of infrastructure plays a significant role in the long-term success of new communities. Inadequate public transport services can impede mobility and accessibility and foster dependency on cars that can be difficult to reverse, even after public transport is provided. The importance of public transport in new communities is well understood and all growth-areas are designed for buses to be within safe walking distance of peoples’ homes. But Research prepared by the Victorian Auditor General revealed that almost one-quarter of growth-area households are falling short of current proximity targets. Lag times between planning new suburbs and providing public transport exceeds all reasonable expectations. For example, the time taken to fund rail services to growth areas usually exceeds 30 years, more than a generation.

In the growth areas and many established outer suburbs, bus services are often the only option for those who rely on public transport to get around their local area or travel further afield. But the bus system is failing to meet the needs of these communities. Service deficiencies are widespread, including inadequate network coverage, poor frequency, reliability and connectivity to other transport modes, and insufficient hours and days of operation.

Outer Melbourne needs a well-funded, multi-year investment program to meet these transport challenges and ensure that residents of our outer areas are well connected to employment and their community.

What RACV wants

For Melbourne to be a world-class connected city, our transport networks must reach well beyond the central area. Melbourne continues to grow and the outer suburbs deserve a fast, convenient and high-quality transport system linking areas of housing and employment and also providing access to goods and services, health care, education and recreation.

RACV calls on the State and Federal Governments to fund an ongoing program of outer-suburban transport projects. Our 2018 list of 142 transport infrastructure projects are listed in the Growing Pains brochure. These include road infrastructure projects within each of the 14 local council areas to address missing links, increase capacity and improve safety, plus railway infrastructure projects to create new lines, extend the reach and capacity of existing lines and improve access and facilities at railway stations. RACV estimates that over $13 billion dollars is required to address the backlog of projects in the shorter term. Much more will be needed to commence a range of medium to long term road and public transport projects.

Our infrastructure projects are shown on the interactive map below.

RACV further calls for progressive reform in the design and supply of bus services across the outer suburbs, including measures to improve timetabling, route planning, co-ordination between modes and customer information. RACV will advocate for improved public transport services across Greater Melbourne. Look out for updates on the RACV website.

Past reports

Growing Pains in Outer Melbourne- 2012

RACV's blueprint of road and public transport improvements needed to address the critical backlog of projects in 16 municipalities across outer Melbourne and Geelong. The package of over 150 road and public transport projects identified will deliver a comprehensive and connected transport network and offer people living in outer Melbourne greater choice in how they travel. A full copy of the 2012 report can be downloaded here.

Footpath Connect - 2016

RACV released a supplement to Connect Outer Melbourne focusing attention on connecting footpaths to bus stops, a critical link in the better use of public transport. Having good public transport is critical in outer Melbourne. But none of the economic, environmental and health benefits of using public transport can be realised if people can’t get safely and conveniently to the bus stops in the first place because there is no suitable footpath. RACV called for the State Government to work with Local Government to develop and fund a plan to link high-use bus stops in outer Melbourne to the footpath network with an immediate State Government injection of $2.3 million to fund the construction of these vital links. A copy of the report can be downloaded from the Footpath Connect page.

Connect Outer Melbourne - 2008

RACV released the predecessor to our Growing Pains reports - Connect Outer Melbourne. RACV presents Outer Melbourne Connect as a responsible blueprint comprising road improvements, rail line extensions and significant public transport service improvements. RACV identified 85 projects to better serve private motoring, public transport services and freight operation. These projects require a $3 billion investment by the State Government for road infrastructure, plus ongoing funding for bus service improvements. A copy of the 2008 report can be downloaded here.

The Missing Links - 2002

RACV produced a special report titled The Missing Links, which presented a plan for upgrading transport infrastructure in outer metropolitan Melbourne. The Missing Links identified seventy-four critical road and public transport projects and a much needed $2.2 billion investment in the arterial road network, with $1.4 billion for road upgrades and $800 million for new road projects.

Regional Victoria

Beyond Melbourne’s outer suburbs, Victoria’s regional centres and peri-urban areas are predicted to host a growing share of the state’s population growth, driven by the attraction of lifestyle, open space, job opportunities, affordable housing and services. This population growth must be supported through the provision of safe, efficient and equitable transport options.

Growing Pains in regional Victoria

In August 2014, RACV released 'Growing Pains in Regional Victoria'. The report outlines the key transport planning principles and major projects needed to better connect regional cities and rural areas to each other and to Melbourne. The report also identifies the localised road, public transport, cycling and walking projects needed in Victoria’s ten largest regional cities of Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Greater Geelong, Horsham, Latrobe, Mildura, Greater Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga.

As the state’s population grows, Victoria’s regional centres will develop further in their own right as centres of employment, population and activity. RACV has consulted with the regional Victorian community, our members, local government and industry to identify the transport projects needed to strengthen the transport links that connect regional population centres, not just to Melbourne, but to each other and to the communities surrounding them.

What RACV wants

RACV has called for an injection of $4.6 billion in regional Victoria over the next decade to address critical road and public transport deficiencies, which are limiting the travel opportunities for regional communities and putting the brakes on economic development. Investment in the projects identified in ‘Growing Pains in Regional Victoria’ is urgently needed to support liveability and economic growth in Victoria.

The projects identified will improve travel to and within regional Victoria and provide greater transport choice for how people travel. Key connections that affect the whole of regional Victoria are necessary to provide safer roads and create the links and capacity to cater for current and future demand in regional Victoria.

The road, public transport, cycling and walking projects needed in Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Greater Geelong, Horsham, Latrobe, Mildura, Greater Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga have been identified. These ten local government areas are home to the largest regional cities outside metropolitan Melbourne, with wellestablished economies and the potential to expand further.

While it is difficult to cover local issues in every regional town and community, RACV believes the relevant transport planning principles included in this report should be applied across the state. In all regional areas, roads should be safe and well-maintained and where possible, public transport access to and between towns and railway stations should be provided. 

RACV wants to see a balanced and integrated approach to the transport needs for regional Victoria so that our regional cities, smaller rural communities and urban fringe areas continue to be great places to live. We simply cannot rely on the drip-feed of annual budgets to fill the backlog of projects needed in regional Victoria. An ongoing program of works is needed; one that includes the road network, the rail network, the principal bicycle network and the essential public transport services to operate on the infrastructure. Investment in roads should benefit all road users by providing footpaths, separated cycling facilities, bus stops and space for private and commercial vehicles. Strong bipartisan support is required for the transport vision and projects we have proposed now, rather than developing more plans that result in additional years of delay.

On behalf of our two million members, RACV calls on the Federal and State Governments to adopt our blueprint of road and public transport projects in regional Victoria and deliver an accelerated and ongoing program of works over the next decade. The State Government must work with regional Victorian councils and commit to a pipeline of regional transport projects that will be integrated with the ‘Plan Melbourne’ strategy for metropolitan Melbourne. The Victorian Government, with support from the Federal Government, needs to develop a long-term investment strategy. Innovative funding methods that include borrowing at a state and federal level and engagement of the private sector through public-private partnerships are needed to ensure successful delivery of this plan.

Download a copy of the Regional Growing Pains report here