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Melbourne Airport wants more buses as rail link dispute drags on

written by Jake Nelson | January 17, 2024

Melbourne’s premium SkyBus service connects the airport with Southern Cross Station in the CBD and Frankston Station in the city’s southeast. (Image: SkyBus)

Melbourne Airport is calling for improved local bus services as the stoush over its rail link continues.

Aside from the premium SkyBus service, which serves Southern Cross Station in the CBD and Frankston in the southeast, only four bus routes serve the airport – 478, 479, 482, and 901 – with the 482 only operating on weekdays.

Of the four Public Transport Victoria (PTV) bus routes available, only the 902 operates after 7:45pm or more than once an hour, and many residents of surrounding suburbs have poor access to airport buses despite the airport employing more than 18,000 people.

Melbourne Airport chief of ground transport Jai McDermott said that while SkyBus does a “great job” connecting with the city and Mornington Peninsula, staff and passengers from the north and west of Melbourne are being “let down” by a lack of local bus services.

“We remain committed to an airport rail line with a fit-for-purpose, future-proof and cost-effective underground station, but while we work towards a link that puts passengers first, immediate action is needed to fix the airport’s woeful local bus services,” he said.


“Many airport staff are shift workers, but the current lack of services mean public transport is simply not an option for people who live in our surrounding suburbs.”

According to McDermott, travellers and staff based near the airport are often forced to drive, as cabs are reluctant to take people to local destinations.

“Improved suburban bus connections would help overcome this problem while unlocking more job opportunities for more people in Melbourne’s north and west by providing better transport options,” he said.

“As a significant employment generator for Melbourne’s north and west, Melbourne Airport needs frequent, reliable bus services to connect to places such as Keilor, Sunbury, Taylors Lakes, Sunshine and further afield.

“We need more PTV buses that start early, finish late and run every 15 minutes. While our carpark pricing starts from just $12 a day, this should be for people who want to drive, not people who are being forced to drive.”

The call comes amid a continued stalemate over a proposed rail link to Melbourne Airport, with the state government and the airport unable to agree on whether the airport station should be underground, as the airport suggests, or elevated, as the government prefers.

In an intervention in November, Transport Minister Catherine King said she would appoint an independent negotiator to end the long-running dispute over the rail link, which has been delayed beyond its intended opening date of 2029.

“Certainly, this has been an ongoing issue that both the Victorian and Commonwealth governments have had to grapple with as to how the station or where the station will be,” she told ABC Radio.

It is hoped that once complete, Melbourne Airport’s link will take passengers into the CBD within 30 minutes, and trains will arrive at 10-minute intervals.

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