FAMILIES in suburbs with poor access to trains, trams or high-frequency buses are being forced to buy a car for every adult, a new study of car ownership has found.
The study, compiled by the Bus Association of Victoria, has identified Melbourne's highest areas of car ownership. Those suburbs include Narre Warren South, Strathmore, Cranbourne East and Ringwood North.
A new rail line to Rowville, running past Monash University, would drastically reduce their car reliance, Ms Rowe said.
The new study also shows that Melbourne's pockets of low car ownership are found:
> Where there is a dense grid of high-quality public transport.
> In some low socio-economic areas, such as around Broadmeadows, St Albans and Dandenong.
> Near activity centres such as Ringwood, Box Hill and Frankston.
> Near university suburbs (such as Clayton, Caulfield, Bundoora and Maribyrnong) and prisons.
But some suburbs with good access to public transport remain notably heavy car users, including Toorak, Brighton and Black Rock.
The Bus Association's policy manager, Chris Loader, who compiled the data, said areas with low car ownership levels had plenty of public transport options, which moved in many directions - not just into and out of the city.
Professor Adams said the Bus Association study showed that ''if you provide people with alternatives [to the car] they'll jump at them''.
He said buses were ''a blind spot'' for Melburnians. They weren't popular partly because a lack of dedicated bus lanes meant they were often stuck in traffic. Melbourne should consider allowing buses - and eventually taxis - to run along tram corridors separated from car traffic, he said.
''A car for a family is anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000 a year, if you take on things like petrol, where you live, depreciation,'' he added.
Would your household have less cars if public transport was better?Caption: In Rowville, the Rowe family has five cars on the go. Lynette Rowe said her sons would like to use public transport more but the irregularity of bus services and the distance from train and tram lines meant it was unrealistic.