Working on my public transport map for Melbourne has made me discover a whole lot of bus routes that I never previously knew about.
It did make me wonder which one of the roughly 350 bus routes in metropolitan Melbourne have the shortest distance.
At 115 kilometres, the 901 is already well known for being the longest.
Flipping that around, the 509 along Hope Street in Brunswick has previously been claimed as the shortest route in Melbourne. It takes about 15 minutes to travel from Barkley Square to its terminus next to Citylink in Brunswick West, a distance of 3.5 kilometres.
However, there are quite a few other contenders for this title. Even one municipality across in Moonee Valley, the 467 from Moonee Ponds Station to Aberfeldie takes only 12 minutes to complete its journey of 3.5 kilometres.
Other finalists include (in ascending order of distance):
- 773 (Frankston to Frankston South) – 9 minutes to travel 3.9 kilometres
- 431 (Yarraville to Kingsville) – 11 minutes to travel 4 kilometres
- 518 (Greensborough to St Helena West) – 14 minutes to travel 4 kilometres on its inbound leg
- 929 (Pakenham Station to Pakenham North) – 10 minutes to travel 4.2 kilometres
- 740 (Mitcham to Vermont East) – 17 minutes to travel 4.8 kilometres
- 831 (Berwick to Kingsmere Estate) – 14 minutes to travel 4.9 kilometres
- 779 (Frankston to Belvedere) – 13 minutes to travel 5 kilometres
- 770 (Frankston Station to Karingal) – 20 minutes to travel 5.3 kilometres (towards Frankston Station)
- 798 (Cranbourne to Selandra Rise) – 17 minutes to travel 6.2 kilometres
- 898 (Cranbourne East to Cranbourne Station) – 18 minutes to travel 6.2 kilometres
- 927 (Pakenham Station to Pakenham North) – 15 minutes to travel 6.6 kilometres
The fourth longest at the moment is the 777 from Karingal Hub Shopping Centre to McClelland Drive. It is a close contender for second place, but because of the loop in the shopping centre it comes in very slightly longer than the 441 at 3.3 kilometres.
The 441 in Werribee comes very close in third place. This tiny route of just six stops (heading towards Werribee Station) takes 8 minutes to go from one end to the other. Its total length from end to end is 3.2 kilometres – 300 metres shorter than the 509 and 467. But because it operates as a loop, if you were heading in the other direction (towards Westleigh Gardens), it is slightly longer at 3.8 kilometres.
In just over a fortnight, this route will no longer be one of the top 10 shortest in Melbourne. It will be extended further into the Riverwalk Estate as of 28 July 2019. It will now take 10 minutes for the bus to traverse the new route of 4.7 kilometres.
In second place is the 401, which has a route length of 2.6 kilometres from North Melbourne Station to Melbourne University. It is currently disrupted due to the Metro Tunnel works, terminating at Pelham Street, so this may change in the future once the new Parkville Station is built.
So which is actually the shortest…?
The crown for shortest bus route in Melbourne must go to the 673 from Lilydale Station to Lillydale Lake (yes there are two ‘l’s). This is a route of only 2.5 kilometres from end to end, not including diversions. However, it is timetabled to take 15 minutes – quite a long time to cover this distance. (Thanks to Peter Parker for pointing out this omission!)
Many of these short routes are legacies from many decades ago. Others are the beginnings of routes into new residential estates that are either proposed or under construction. At some point in the future, many will be extended as development continues to expand.
If I’ve missed any, please let me know in the comments. I didn’t do GIS analysis of route lengths although that would be possible. I might do a future post with a list of each route length in a spreadsheet or something similar.
Update: an earlier version of this post declared the 441 as the shortest. Peter Parker pointed out the 673, which, by distance, is actually the shortest. Thanks to everyone for your comments.