MPs not keen on Car-Free Challenge — Users Suggest Relaxed Guidelines

The Public Transport Users Association has suggested some relaxed guidelines for the seven-day car-free challenge, after one of the six Geelong MPs flatly refused to take part and no response was received from the others.

Convener of the Geelong Branch, Tim Petersen, said the MPs’ lack of enthusiasm was not surprising, given the poor level of public transport services in the region.

Under the revised guidelines, MPs who accept the challenge will only have to use public transport between their homes and their electorate offices, where their cars could be parked and used for work purposes.

MPs had been asked to indicate by last Friday (23/06/06) if they had accepted the challenge to go about their daily duties without driving a car, by choosing any seven consecutive or non-consecutive days over the next two months. The PTUA has not received any direct responses, although the MLA for South Barwon was reported in Saturday’s Geelong Advertiser (24/06/06 p. 19) as labelling the proposal “absolutely ludicrous”.

No acknowledgement has been received from any MPs in the fortnight since the invitation was sent. Most had not made a decision by the requested date, although some were on holidays.

Convener Tim Petersen said the poor response was a vote of no confidence in Geelong’s public transport system, which clearly failed to provide a reasonable alternative to driving.

“We always knew the Challenge would be difficult. Public transport service levels can be so poor that even getting to and from one appointment can take half a day.”

“MPs should be asking what the State Government will do to bring services up to a useable standard. The recently released 10-year plan for public transport certainly isn’t going to do it.”

Mr Petersen said that the revised guidelines will at least ensure that MPs get some experience of relying on local public transport to get around within Geelong. MPs will still be encouraged to walk, cycle or use public transport whenever possible throughout their working day.

MPs have been asked to indicate if they will accept the revised Challenge by Friday next week (7/07/2006).

Contacts: PTUA Office (03) 9650 7898 / Geelong Branch: geelong at ptua.org.au