Destination Fishermans Bend
Buses 235 and 237 service Fishermans Bend. The 235 via Williamstown Rd, and the 237 via Lorimer St. Both services turn around outside Westgate Park, though at different places.
Both of these services will be boosted to an 8 minute frequency at the morning and afternoon peaks. Services will also run until midnight on weekdays from October. Outside peak times, the buses will run every ten minutes.
The announcement was made on 22 September by then Public Transport Minister, now Deputy Premier, Ben Carroll, alongside the member for Albert Park, Nina Taylor.
A few weeks earlier, Minister Carroll released Melbourne’s Tram Plan. A quick scan of the plan returned only one mention of Fishermans Bend. Short, medium and long term are described as horizons 1, 2 and 3 in the plan. Short term priorities are improving accessibility along entire tram corridors such as we enjoy on route 109. Horizon 3, the longer term, is sketchy. Tram network extensions will support economic growth and renewal areas.
It looks like the future of transport in Fishermans Bend in the short to medium term is going to be buses. (The Fishermans Bend Framework (2018) included two tram routes: one along Plummer St and one along Turner St.)
Is the absence of trams in the short to medium term fatal to the Fishermans Bend plan? Peter Parker from the Melbourne on Transit blog doesn’t think so. He supports the addition of more weekend services but argues insted for a train service, Metro 2, when the density warrants it.
Mobility is the objective. Buses are massively cheaper. The infrastructure, roads, already exists. Buses are flexible. Routes can be modified. Services added. Some people say that Melburnians don’t like buses, that Melburnians are tram people. So much depends on how buses are treated in the transport system. If buses were given priority, as trams on some routes enjoy, they would provide a valid alternative to trams. It’s the frequency, convenience and connectivity that matter. All buses will be electric by 2025 so the unpleasantness and air pollution associated with buses will no longer be an issue.
On the bus
Yesterday I caught the first Fishermans Bend bus that came along from Collins St, opposite Southern Cross Station. It was the 237, via Lorimer St. In the light traffic of the early afternoon, the bus headed smoothly down Lorimer St. It was school holidays and a group of teenagers headed straight up he back. They were going to a party. One or two people got off at each stop. I got off at Sardine St, just before the Westgate Bridge, and entered Westgate Park, just metres from the Yarra River.
Bird song foregrounded the Westgate Bridge traffic noise. Superb blue wrens darted across the path and welcome swallows swept above the surface of the freshwater lake. I climbed the hill, created to give city views, to get a sense of the relationship of the Park with the city from which I had travelled.
I left Westgate Park at Wharf Rd where the 235 bus turns round to return to the city. Late afternoon, getting busier now. A handful of people got on at each stop including tradies and workers from the many industries in Fishermans Bend. Increasingly, the bus got held up in traffic. It took a while to re-enter a traffic queue on Salmon St outside Kraft, more time waiting for a break in the traffic to turn left into Williamstown Rd, more time getting held up again at the left turn into Montague St from Normanby Rd. The bus was full by the time we reached Ingles St.
The 237 and 237 bus services provide good coverage for most destinations in Fishermans Bend as the maps below show. If buses are to be the short and medium term form of transport for Fishermans Bend, then greater priority needs to be given to them – on road, at traffic lights and through the Montague St/Westgate Freeway interchange.
The buses’ give the destination as Fishermans Bend. But it could give the destination as Westgate Park via Lorimer St, or Westgate Park via Williamstown Rd.
In 2026, the City of Melbourne will take over the management of Westgate Park from Parks Victoria. Over the next two years, the Council will be planning for the future of the Park. Part of that planning should be about making the most of the excellent public transport access to Westgate Park through improved entrances and wayfinding.