Brimbank and Melton among most vulnerable to rising oil prices

Deer Park and Kings Park have been named among the most vulnerable suburbs in Australia in a new report from Griffith University examining vulnerability to rising oil prices [1]. The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has responded by calling for urgent state and federal investment in expanding the coverage of high quality public transport in the area, such as electrifying and duplicating the railway lines to Sunbury and Bacchus Marsh.

“Recent patronage growth shows that people are willing to use public transport if it meet their needs,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. “This new report shows many families are missing out on decent services, so they’re literally forced to own multiple cars and use them heavily. People in Brimbank and Melton are among the worst affected.”

The report comes hot on the heels of warning from the CSIRO that petrol prices may be headed towards $8 per litre over the next decade [2]. The International Energy Agency (IEA) is also believed to be downgrading its oil supply estimates in an about-face on past optimistic projections [3].

“Petrol prices keep trending upwards,” said Mr Bowen. “Each time prices pause for breath, a new shock comes along to keep pushing them higher. Families in Brimbank and Melton and the entire economy will continue to suffer unless we reduce our dependence on cars.”

Mr Bowen also cautioned against pinning hopes on cuts to fuel taxation. “Commonwealth Treasury recently revealed that a 5 cent cut in fuel excise would only save motorists $1.50 per week, but cost the federal government $1.8 billion each year [4]. That could pay for major improvements to public transport and rail freight that would save Australian families so much more.”

The Griffith University report also warned against worsening the divide between public transport ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ by directing new investment to central and middle suburbs. The report’s authors warned that major infrastructure projects such as inner city tunnels could drain funding away from urgently needed improvements to outer suburban public transport such as rail extensions and interconnecting local bus services.

Mr Bowen echoed the report’s warnings. “Public transport already caters for the vast majority of journeys to the CBD. The desperate need – where people are currently offered no practical alternative to driving – is non-CBD journeys. Instead of blowing all our money on duplicating inner city infrastructure, we need an expanded, properly integrated network of fast and frequent services right across Melbourne.”

In order to makes public transport a real option for more journeys in outer suburbs, the PTUA has launched a campaign called “Every 10 minutes to Everywhere” [5]. The campaign calls for frequent tram or bus services on all major roads across the city, connecting to train services to give go-anywhere convenience that rivals private motor vehicles.”

“With people in Brimbank and Melton among the worst affected by lack of public transport, the Brumby government’s upcoming transport plan needs to ensure suburban rail extensions and bus upgrades don’t lose out to big ticket items currently attracting all the attention,” concluded Mr Bowen.

Examples of suburban vulnerability in Brimbank and Melton:

  • Very high vulnerability: Deer Park, Kings Park
  • High vulnerability: Sunshine