Budget brings slow progress on public transport

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed upgrades to public transport announced in the state budget, but warned that more needed to be done to provide Victorians with sustainable transport choices.

“There are certainly some welcome upgrades that have been announced, but nowhere near what’s really needed to provide relief from chronic traffic congestion and record oil prices”, said PTUA president Daniel Bowen. “While some will notice some improvements to their services, people who currently have no choice but to drive will find little relief, and will continue to fall victim to rising petrol prices.”

Mr Bowen said that upgrades to Nightrider buses were very welcome, with regular overcrowding on the current hourly services. And he welcomed rail infrastructure upgrades that would help boost services, but said that it was unclear why they are so expensive, with over $90 million to be spent on extra track and a third platform at Laverton. “And $30 million has been announced to fix trackwork at Craigieburn, less than a year after the line was upgraded for electric trains. Meanwhile station carpark upgrades, at $29 million for 1700 new spaces, are costing an incredible $17,000 per space, which would be better spent upgrading feeder bus services.”

But Mr Bowen said the PTUA is very concerned that progress on the government’s target of 20% of motorised trips by public transport by 2020 has slipped. Budget papers reveal that while there has been a surge in trips on public transport, road usage has also increased, so public transport mode share has actually dropped[1], from 8.8% to 8.6%.

“The government is actually going backwards. It’s an astonishing result given recent petrol price rises — if the government were truly committed to giving Melburnians the choice of leaving their car at home, they would be providing fast, frequent tram train and bus services across the city”, said Mr Bowen.

Budget papers also showed the government is slipping on their target of getting more port freight onto rail[2], down from 16% to 15%, resulting in increased truck traffic around Melbourne and Victoria.

“While there are welcome upgrades in this budget, more needs to be done to provide public transport options that meet the needs of Victorians”, concluded Mr Bowen.

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[1] Growing Victoria Together – 20% by 2020 target – Budget Paper 3, Appendix B, page 378.

[2] Growing Victoria Together – 30% by 2010 target – Budget Paper 3, Appendix B, page 377.

Contact the PTUA