PTUA celebrates 30 years

The Public Transport Users Association last night celebrated their 30 years at their 2006 Annual General Meeting. Apart from the usual AGM business of electing the next year’s committee, members and guests watched a video of some highlights of the PTUA’s activities over the past few decades.

Group celebrates 30 years of public transport advocacy

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) celebrated thirty years of sustainable transport advocacy on Thursday night with a meeting for members and former committee members in Flinders Lane in the city. Accompanied by champagne and birthday cake, the association unveiled its new slogan: “Standing up for passengers since 1976”.

PTUA President Daniel Bowen recalled the story of founder Frank Casey, who one night in February 1976 was travelling home when his train was stopped at Ringwood due to a fault. Passengers were forced to walk, find taxis or squeeze onto buses to continue their journeys, but the last straw was when the train recovered and was seen to leave the station to continue its journey to Lilydale, empty.

“Frank Casey was rightly annoyed by this, and wrote into the Melbourne Herald”, said Mr Bowen. “But he showed much foresight in not just whinging about his journey, but identifying the root causes of the incident and what could be done to fix it.”

Casey called for other disgruntled commuters to join together. Consequently the Train Travellers Association was formed in April 1976, broadening to become the Public Transport Users Association in 1984.

Mr Bowen remarked that many of the issues had remained the same through the organisation’s life, such as regular fare rises above the level of inflation, lack of staff, unreliable services and successive governments pouring billions into fruitless freeway expansion. But he said that the view on other issues had changed with time — for instance in 1976 the TTA had opposed the outright banning of smoking on board public transport.

Mr Bowen also noted that, dating back to 1984, the PTUA name is older than that of many other players in Victoria’s public transport industry: Connex (1999), Metlink (2003), Yarra Trams (1999), the Department of Infrastructure (1996), Bus Association of Victoria (1996) and VicRoads (1989). V/Line is older, dating back to 1983.

Members were treated to a retrospective video, highlighting some of the media work the PTUA has done over the decades. The video is available for viewing at www.ptua.org.au

The PTUA has active branches in Geelong and Melbourne’s Outer East, and continues to lobby for public transport improvements across Victoria, as well as offering members newsletters and discounted Metcards.

Media coverage of this story: MX, 11 October 2006: Stop that sparked a union