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Media Release

7/11/2005

Government Must Focus on Public Transport to Save Melbourne 2030

In unveiling a five year vision for public transport, The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has called on the government to include rail extensions, frequency upgrades and a major overhaul of transport planning beginning in next year's state budget to save the Melbourne 2030 vision of a liveable city.

"After six years of excuses, it's crunch time for Melbourne's transport system," said PTUA spokesperson Alex Makin. "The government can either commit to an immediate program of public transport upgrades, or start explaining why it thinks Melbourne deserves increased congestion, air pollution and no escape from rising oil prices."

Recent attention has focused on supposed bottlenecks in Melbourne's road network such as the Westgate Bridge and Eastern Freeway. "There is almost perfect correlation between road congestion pinchpoints and atrocious public transport," said Mr. Makin. "Trains are few and far between in the western suburbs, and tram and bus connections are lacking, so of course commuters are going to hit the Westgate with more and more cars."

Despite being promised as part of the original plans for the Eastern Freeway, a train line to East Doncaster that would ease pressure on the freeway and inner north has gone no further than the drawing board.

Melbourne 2030 promised to get people out of their cars and focus development around activity centres with high quality public transport links to the rest of the city. "We've seen aggressive high density development under the banner of Melbourne 2030, but public transport seems to have been forgotten in successive budgets," said Mr. Makin. "Meanwhile road expansion continues apace with grave implications for social isolation, oil consumption, air pollution and greenhouse emissions."

In September 2002, the government's Infrastructure Planning Council pointed to a disconnect between planning and transport funding, especially the privileged position of VicRoads compared to other transport functions.

"We're calling on the government to properly integrate planning and transport, and to ensure all funding decisions fully reflect economic, social and environmental factors such as pollution, induced traffic and mobility for non-drivers," said Mr. Makin. "If transport and planning were properly integrated, we could see vastly improved public transport without increasing overall transport spending."

On top of road maintenance and safety initiatives, the state government commits over $250 million each year to metropolitan road projects and links. Although the government has set a target of doubling public transports share of motorised journeys to 20 per cent by 2020, metropolitan public transport development has averaged less than $15 million per year.

"Our submission outlines a multi-year program of public transport improvements that will get the government back on course to achieving its 20 per cent target, as well as offer relief from congestion and rising oil prices," said Mr. Makin. "This program is no more than what the government regularly spends on upgrading Melbourne's road system, and does much more to offer sustainable transport choices to all Melburnians whether they drive or not."

Highlights of the PTUA budget submission include:

  • A new train line to East Doncaster to ease pressure on the Eastern Freeway and inner north;
  • Extensions of existing heavy rail lines to Sunbury, Baxter and South Morang;
  • Various tram extensions to improve connections with train and bus services;
  • Reform of bus routes to make them faster and more user-friendly; and
  • Increased frequencies and hours of operation on all train, tram and bus services.

"The level of commitment to public transport in the next state budget will reveal whether the government is really committed to Melbourne 2030, or is just paying lip service to the concept of a liveable city," concluded Mr. Makin.

The full five-year-plan (PDF 852K)

Contacts:
PTUA Office 9650 7898


Last Modified: 7 November 2005