On the bus – public transport to Fishermans Bend

Fishermans Bend is supposed to be Melbourne’s next new urban development precinct, but there is something lacking – decent public transport.

Hoards of passengers waiting outside Southern Cross for the bus to Fishermans Bend

On the bus

The Fishermans Bend urban renewal area has been divided into four precincts.

With permits already granted for high rise development across much of the Montague Precinct.

But no plans have been made to improve public transport.

With four bus routes the only link between Fishermans Bend and the Melbourne CBD:

  • 235 – City – Fishermans Bend via Williamstown Road
  • 237 – City – Fishermans Bend via Lorimer Street
  • 234 – Garden City – City (Queen Victoria Market)
  • 236 – Garden City – Queen Victoria Market via City

Routes 235 and 237 depart from outside Southern Cross Station.

Transdev bus eastbound on Collins Street passes Southern Cross Station

But no facilities are provided for waiting passengers.

Decent sized crowd waiting outside Southern Cross Station for the route 235/237/238 buses to Fishermans Bend

Not even a token bus shelter.

Passengers waiting at Collins and Spencer Street for a bus towards Fishermans Bend

These buses travel along Collins Street.

Transdev bus #974 rego 8256AO on a route 237 along Collins Street near Southern Cross

Where they get stuck in traffic.

Transdev bus 0184AO on route 235 stuck in Collins Street traffic outside Southern Cross Station

Behind queues of single occupant cars.

Route 237 stuck in traffic on Collins Street outside Southern Cross Station

While being overtaken by trams, which have their own dedicated tracks.

A2.261 on route 48 parallels Transdev bus #433 7833AO on a route 232 service along Collins Street

But still the passengers pile onboard buses in spite of the shabby service.

Passengers board a Fishermans Bend-bound bus at Southern Cross via both front and back doors

Can you imagine how many more people would leave their car at home if the bus service was improved?

So what to do?

A tram bridge between Docklands and Fishermans Bend is a frequent idea that does the rounds – through it won’t be cheap.

But in the meantime, a bus shelter at Southern Cross Station won’t break the bank.

Ventura bus #837 7691AO on route 691 at Ferntree Gully station

And what about some real bus priority.

Route 234 and 236 share the tram tracks along Queensbridge Street.

Transdev bus #598 6862AO on route 234 at Queens Bridge

So why can’t the same thing happen along the Docklands end of Collins Street?


Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning Victoria animation showing approved developments in the Fishermans Bend urban renewal area.

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22 Responses to “On the bus – public transport to Fishermans Bend”

  1. Andrew says:

    I’ve been delayed in Queensbridge Street coming from the city in a packed tram by one bus waiting to turn left into Power Street followed by a bus going straight ahead and then my tram stuck behind them. It was perhaps less than four minutes but that is some time to be stationary in a tram. I really am not keen having buses on tram tracks.

    Snap decision when on a bus from Port Melbourne. Get off at Spencer Street and catch a train or tram to Swanston Street and a tram home, or stay on the bus to William Street and 58 home. I made a terrible mistake choosing the latter. It had been a very fast trip until then.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The traffic lights there are a bit of a mess – turning and straight ahead movements sharing the same lane.

      Transdev bus #557 5941AO on route 234 at Queensbridge and Power Street

      The same problem applies at junctions where tram routes split. But in recent years turning tracks have been added at St Kilda Road / Southbank Boulevard, St Kilda Road / Park Street, St Kilda Road / Toorak Road and Clarendon Street / Light Rail junctions to separate the movements.

      Z3.187 and B2.2099 on route 58 turn at Park Street into St Kilda Road

  2. Mike says:

    Here’s an idea. Reclaim the Arbory bar for public transport. Run a tram from there across the unused half of the Sandridge bridge, joining to the Queensbridge St tracks. Branch off at City Rd down to Fisherman’s Bend.

    Long term, if they could figure out how to avoid the Elizabeth St drain, that line could tunnel under the station in a combined tram/pedestrian tunnel to join with the Elizabeth St tracks and also provide a much-needed pedestrian link, allowing the existing subway to be restored to a paid area-only tunnel.

  3. gjh says:

    In relation to Andrew’s comment, the real issue outbound in Queensbridge St is that the traffic lights at the corner of Power St aren’t properly optimised for left-turning buses. But it’s a bit academic right now anyway, because the 216/219/220 routes aren’t currently operating at that point (and I’m not sure about the 605 while the works in Southbank Blvd are occurring). Off topic, I wonder if the southern parts of the 216/219/220 routes will ever be reinstated here, as it may be logical for them to terminate at Domain station? At least this would be slightly less illogical than terminating them in Commercial Rd as at present.

    But, more generally, I’m not sure that I see any logic in the inherent assumption that that trams ought to be higher in the priority pecking order than buses.

  4. Anon says:

    Extra services were added in peak periods on both routes in October 2017.
    Buses cannot share tram tracks in Collins Street because the tram platforms are too close together so not enough horizontal clearance.

    • Transportguy says:

      But no reason why at very least cant share tram tracks between tram stops

      • Marcus Wong says:

        Sounds like the Eastern Freeway bus lanes – merge back into traffic for each on and off ramp!

        • Transportguy says:

          Maybe so but even that merging on and off tram tracks to get around stop issue may still save time given in normal traffic lane there is many days its taking 20 or so minutes go 1km or even less!

          • Marcus Wong says:

            Rebuilding the platform stops to allow buses through would be prohibitively expensive given the tracks are built into the deck of the Collins Street bridge – even staggering the stops on the same track centres might not be enough.

  5. Tom the first and best says:

    The Light Rail conversion of the Port Melbourne line was a mistake. Montague would be much better provided for by heavy rail and would make a bay ferry system (for the far side of the bay) to Station Pier a potential option.

  6. Philip says:

    I worked in the “existing industrial” part of Port Melbourne for six weeks last year, after my employer relocated there from a previously comparatively accessible location.
    I found that the two main problems were Collins St congestion (which you mentioned) and the right turn from Wurundjeri Way onto Lorimer Street. That intersection is hideous and there is only a 10-second space in it for right turns onto Lorimer St. The result is queuing every morning, with the bus commonly having to wait through four cycles of the lights (8 minutes in total) to turn right. Add this to a five-minute delay in Collins St and the 7-minute journey to my stop near Hall St usually became 20 minutes. One day it took 40 minutes. It’s only a 30-minute walk.
    The tram bridge would be a great way to improve access to that area, but interim measures should include removing car traffic from Collins St west of Spencer St. Why are cars even there? The road didn’t exist 15 years ago. The Batmans Hill Dr queue can fill up quickly with southbound traffic that has turned right from Collins St in Docklands.
    In the short time I made this dreadful trip, my favourite source of frustration was the time a car was stopped illegally on Collins St outside the ATO, just before Batmans Hill Drive. It was too close to the tram stop for the bus to fit between the two. And it turned out to be a Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria car, containing two enforcers who just thought they’d stop right there behind all the taxis and do SFA for a few minutes.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Thanks for mentioning your first hand experiences – sounds like a dedicated right turn lanes for buses at said intersections would massively speed up services.

    • Ryan says:

      Spot on Philip (esp. regarding cars on Collins St west of Spencer). I don’t catch any of those Port Melbourne services but I do occasionally catch the 232 to Altona North via this same path and usually experience 10-15mins to travel 2 blocks and attempt to turn left (Batmans Hill Drv?) – It has me at a loss as to why there even needs to be commuter cars in this stretch. The traffic control should also be setup at this intersection so that there is always space turning left from Collins St for any bus rather than cycles being blocked by cars travelling Southbound. Of course… most of that comes to naught around the corner when hitting the Westgate Fwy with absolutely no priority or bus lanes… but still, removing 15mins of the trip would be a start.

  7. […] The route was discontinued in 2014, replaced by route 235, 237, 234 and 236 services between Fishermans Bend and the CBD. […]

  8. M says:

    An easier fix than a bridge over the Yarra might also be a tram branch from the Route 109 Port line into Fisherman’s bend – possibly along Bridge St and Plummer St.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      One of the official tram route proposals to Fishermans Bend used Plummer Street.


      The main advantage of the tram bridge over the Yarra would be more efficient utilisation of trams on the existing Collins Street routes to Docklands, rather than having to merge with route 109 trams on the existing tracks via South Melbourne and Spencer Street.

  9. Liam says:

    What makes the whole area particularly brain dead is the need to cross a 60kph strode (Williamstown Road or Lorimar Street), unaided to reach most of the bus stops. This is not the way to serve 80 000 people, and exemplifies the contempt with which the Victorian transport department treats bus passengers.

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