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Department of Transport and Planning - Responding to coronavirus

We’ve been responding quickly to keep people safe and support them moving differently during the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to be agile, responsive and innovative as the state recovers, recognising the vital role transport plays in Victoria’s economic recovery.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, travel demand in Victoria has shifted significantly in two ways:

  • overall travel demand has fallen as activities have been restricted and many people work from home.
  • the nature of travel demand has shifted with a reduction in shared modes such as public transport and growth in individual transport modes such as bikes and cars.

As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we expect some people to continue to work from home more and travel patterns to change. We are also looking at how we keep the networks moving as people return to work and school while keeping people safe and confident to use public transport.

Changes to working patterns may mean less pressure on managing peak-hour commuter travel into and out of the CBD and more focus on managing work travel differently across the day, as well as improving connections that support living and working locally. 

These shifts in demand are occurring in other cities around the world as well as closer to home.

Supporting economic recovery

While we are continually gathering data to help us understand where, when and why people will travel, what we already know is our transport infrastructure projects are a vital part of our recovery from the pandemic, creating thousands of jobs for Victorians and preparing our transport system for generations to come in our state.

While Victorians were staying at home to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Victorian Government has been pushing ahead with critical maintenance and infrastructure projects – getting our road and rail network ready for safer and more reliable journeys.

A growing population and increasing urban density are driving the need to maximise the volume of freight moving on high-capacity road and rail links between vital logistics centres. At the same time, we need to manage increasing volumes of deliveries within our growing urban areas.

In response to this growing demand, we’re investing $80 billion in road and rail projects to help move more people and goods than ever before, and support Victoria’s place as the economic powerhouse of the nation.

In addition to getting on with the Big Build, we are working to make sure transport will continue to support public health, be adaptable to new travel patterns and community needs, and capitalise on the many opportunities to use transport to innovate and drive economic growth. 

Our focus will be on initiatives that meet the changing needs of our community, improve services, and make the most of information and technology to get more from our transport network. This includes, for example, a $340 million package of measures to create more space on our roads by putting extra technology and people in place to keep drivers and freight moving.

Transport in regional Victoria

Shifting work locations from central Melbourne will also have an effect on regional travel, economies and communities with more opportunities for people to relocate to regional centres.

This may change the demand for regional rail services and road links between regional centres and Melbourne CBD. We will get on with our plans for more trains more often to regional centres, and deliver the upgrades to highways, arterial roads and intersections across regional Victoria, while also strengthening local bus networks and delivering new flexible solutions like on-demand travel.

Through our regional rail upgrades, we’re connecting communities, reducing congestion on busy roads, delivering better services and supporting thousands of jobs. We’re working to upgrade every regional passenger train line in the state through the Regional Rail Revival program(opens in a new window).

We’ve delivered more services to regional Victoria through a new timetable, on more comfortable, reliable VLocity trains, delivering country Victorians the transport amenities they deserve.

The freight industry is critical to the success of regional economies. That’s why new approaches may be needed to support supply chain performance and maximise the efficiency of the road network.

Having a plan

Given these significant challenges and uncertainties, and the importance of the transport system in driving Victoria’s economic and social recovery from coronavirus, there is a need for a strategic framework to underpin the transport response during the recovery period and beyond.

The Department of Transport and Planning’s new strategic directions will help us prioritise policies and investments and guide our response to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

We are also getting on with projects already underway, including a predictive crowding indicator, more services and off-peak fares.

What we’ve already done

We have delivered measures like hand sanitisers at stations and more intensive cleaning to improve hygiene. We’ve also invested $22 million to support our commercial passenger vehicle industry and committed $340 million to manage congestion on our roads using better road management and technologies.

We have introduced off-peak fares and added hundreds of new train and tram services each week to spread demand across the day and enable passengers to avoid crowded services.

Passengers can now track their train and see how busy a service or station is ahead of time with RideSpace. The free online tool is available on Google Maps, displaying real-time passenger volumes on trains, on individual platforms and at stations across the entire metropolitan train network. This will help passengers make informed decisions about the best time to travel.

We’ve also changed the way buses operate to make boarding quicker and easier by making buses cashless and allowing all-door boarding. This means less time wasted at stops and quicker journeys. We’re looking at some of our busiest bus routes to take full advantage of these changes, trialling new buses and road prioritisation to make journeys even quicker.

On the latest version of the PTV app, you can also view the location of your bus service on a map in real-time.