Smartbuses a “glimmer of hope” in Melbourne’s inadequate bus system

Smartbuses have met the international benchmark for public transport efficiency, but the rest of Melbourne’s bus system is falling behind.

Melbourne’s public bus system is performing poorly in comparison to the rest of the world, a study by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has found.

Using a method of a lower score equalling a better performance, the study has ranked the Melbourne system with an average of 1.7, significantly higher than the ideal score of 1.1 – 1.3.

The PTUA attributes “meandering” routes and infrequent services to the poor result.

Smartbuses however came in at an efficient 1.0 – 1.2.

These newer vehicles, first introduced a decade ago, use bus lanes, priority traffic light signalling, and more direct routes to provide faster, and more regular, services.

Professor Graham Currie, Monash University Chair of Public Transport, says they aim to “create railways using buses.”

“They’ll be the backbone of the city,” he said.

With only one third of Melbourne residents living within walking distance of a railway station or tram stop, many residents rely on buses as their only feasible form of public transport.

However Smartbuses routes only cover a small part of Melbourne, with the rest still serviced by regular buses.


Taui Mead, 18, is a regular patron of the Smartbus 900 route.

“The service is good, the timing’s good, it’s transport that I like to use,” he said.  

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