Public Transport and starfish

I’m a GreenStar Assessor.  I’m also a public transport geek and there’s nothing I find more frustrating than submissions that miss out on points because the GSAP can’t use public transport as efficiently as I can, unless it’s projects that don’t use the Building User Guide to encourage people to catch public transport and ride bikes.  Often it’s both, and then I start ranting, see below.

I think at this point I should also say that I’m a true believer.  Transport is one of the most significant greenhouse gas impacts people have and I believe that people who are working in the sustainability field are in it to save the world.  For me, if you don’t use public transport regularly, and you’re not riding a bike, you’re not really trying hard enough.  (Yes, I know, I appear much more forgiving in real life, but really, I’m judging you.)

Last week I went to South Morang for a site visit.  I have a theory that if you take a bike and a train you can get to most places in Melbourne within 20min longer than the same car journey will take, but you can read on the train so it’s worth it.  According to google maps, my South Morang visit would have taken about 35 minutes.  By train and bike it took about 50min and my theory holds.

Anyway, here’s how to get the maximum available points out of the commuting public transport credit for a building:

  1. Look up the building location using a map that shows all the nearby bus routes, tram routes and train stations.  In Melbourne the best of these is the Melways.
  2. Make a note of every transport option within a 1km radius of the site and look up their timetables.
  3. Discard the ones that have a travel frequency greater than 30min.
  4. Read through the timetables to identify every destination within a 15min travel time, particularly looking for shopping centres and train stations.
  5. Look up those destinations in your mapto identify buses, trams and trains that connect to your primary travel routes.
  6. Follow the instructions in the GBCA Transport Calculator Guide

So now you fully understand the public transport available nearby, COMMUNICATE IT TO THE BUILDING OCCUPANTS!!!  It’s great to get points for the location of the building, but what’s the point if everyone drives there?  Ideally, every building users guide includes a map showing the location of each bus, tram stop and train station, with notes about their final destination and what services that primary mode connects to.  This information should be included even when the project doesn’t get any points for the commuting credit – maybe people can combine a bike with a train that’s 3km away, and you could be the one who made the difference and got that car off the road.  That’s how I save the world, one starfish at a time.