The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) today expressed frustration with Roads Minister Tim Pallas’ failure to speed up road-based public transport, especially buses, due to lack of action on priority measures.
“Roads Minister Tim Pallas needs to stop dragging his feet and start listening to the community, transport experts and his own advisors who all support giving buses proper priority on Melbourne’s roads”, PTUA spokesman Christopher Trikilis said. “If buses are to be an integral part of our transport network, then we need to ensure they are given their due priority on roads. Buses carrying 50 passengers shouldn’t be held up by cars averaging only one person each.”
Despite the fact that many of Melbourne’s tram routes have dedicated lanes, including in the inner city, Melbourne remains the only city in Australia without full-time dedicated bus lanes in its CBD and surrounding areas, making journeys for bus commuters already facing overcrowding problems slow and uncompetitive with driving. VicRoads also has the infrastructure and technology available to make proper priority work in favour of public transport vehicles.
“Instead of allowing buses to have segregated lanes and proper traffic light priority to ensure they aren’t stuck in congestion, Mr. Pallas is happy to have buses and trams remaining slow and ineffective. For example, full-time bus lanes along Lonsdale Street, Victoria Parade and Hoddle Street would see a 20% saving in peak travel time and result in more buses keeping to timetable and carrying more passengers. It’s as if the Roads Minister was actively undermining the Public Transport Minister’s efforts to improve public transport,” said Mr. Trikilis.
DART, or the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit, is an upgraded bus system along the Eastern Freeway corridor due to start operations in 2010. However, due to chronic overcrowding and growing congestion on inner-city roads, bus times are growing and speeds are decreasing, making public transport a less-viable alternative for travel. These problems are set to get worse with the opening of EastLink in mid-2008 adding thousands of extra vehicles into the corridor.
“The PTUA continues to call for proper priority for all modes of public transport, especially with traffic light priority and dedicated lanes. The Minister must either show that he conforms to government policy of improving public transport and install proper bus priority within the next 12 months, or explain why he is selling the community short,” concluded Mr. Trikilis.