Do we really need more carparks? Surely a significantly upgraded bus service would be a better use of the money?I think in outer suburban areas such as Sydenham as discussed a mixture of both large commuter car parking areas and improved frequent bus services (running every 10 to 15 minutes) are required to get commuters to the train station.
Improved buses are helpful and reduces car dependency but if there is no car parking at all at many outer suburban stations, many would be train commuters will drive instead, so it makes sense to have some car parking.
Do we need them? No, Do the punters want them? Yes. So much so that even the poor old federal government is now funding commuter car parks to win votes.
Parking is important for those who travel outside of regular bus hours, people with a disability, or the unplanned trip. It is unfortunately not sold like that here is Australia, where the car is still king. Most suburban carparks have enough spaces to fill only 1 train (roughly 800 crush depending on the set), there will never be enough carparks for everyone, nor should we even try and build them.
The Bus and active transport are key to this. Better bus routes with longer hours are they way to go. Every 20 minutes should be the minimum for suburban feeder bus routes, running from 4am - 11pm weekdays and reduced hours on the weekends. Back in the Pre COVID days I would regularly start work at 7am in the city, to meet this start time I need to catch a 5.40am train (the next service is at 6.18am, don't ever start me on that one) The first local bus routes does not leave the terminus until 5.50. It is the same in the evening, if you finish work at 7pm you reach the outer suburbs after 8pm, with many local feeder routes finishing up at 9pm.
The state government tried to change the contracts for ALL Melbourne bus routes last year, but the union and big players like Dysons and Ventura kicked up a fuss about it. Currently bus operators are paid on route Km, not performance or patronage. This explains the many useless suburban routes we have, it's about extra km's to get the extra $. Government wanted to change this to performance based targets similar to Metro & YT and also buy back the fleet after 10 years. Had this gone ahead we might have ended up with 2 or 3 operators across Melbourne with the fleets being owned by the state.
With any reform plans shelved for the time being I suspect we will see many more carparks in the future.