OFF-PEAK public transport fares, an expansion of the car parking levy and an overhaul of bus services are among key recommendations made by Infrastructure Victoria to tackle growing congestion in Melbourne.
The independent infrastructure advisor has made the recommendations in its latest research paper, 'Five-year focus: Immediate actions to tackle congestion', which outlines a range of measures government can implement in the next five years to improve Melbourne's transport network.
Chief Executive Officer Michel Masson said the research examined opportunities to reduce pressure on the transport network, which was struggling to cope with growing demand.
"Road congestion is forecast to get worse over the next 15 years and on some parts of the network, increases in journey times and declines in reliability will be significant," Mr Masson said.
"Our research is looking at how we can ease this pressure and we have identified initiatives that could be delivered quickly, are low cost and build on existing measures that have proven effective."
Mr Masson said the recommendations sought to spread demand more evenly across modes and times to ease pressure on the network, particularly at peak times.
"We know there are many people who don't have a lot of flexibility about how and when they travel, but our community research has indicated there are other people who could travel at different times or by different modes," Mr Masson said.
"Our recommendations seek to encourage people who do have travel flexibility to either use public or active transport rather than driving, or shift the time they travel to outside the peak period.
"Improved bus services and active transport initiatives aim to give people a good alternative to driving, off-peak fares provide an incentive to travel at a different time and expanding the car parking levy helps to discourage people from driving in areas well served by public transport.
"If we spread how and when people travel more evenly, the performance of the entire transport network can improve and everyone will benefit," Mr Masson said.
Other recommendations include better allocating road space to improve traffic flows, overhauling how public transport fares are set and better road connections in parts of the outer suburbs.
The latest research builds on work undertaken for Victoria's 30-year infrastructure strategy, which included a recommendation for a transport network pricing scheme to be rolled out within 5 to 15 years.
"In the longer term a comprehensive and fair transport network pricing regime will be the most efficient and effective way of addressing congestion in Melbourne," Mr Masson said.
"This package focuses on short term measures that can be implemented over the next five years to deliver immediate improvements and make it easier for people to get around the city."