New minister faces big challenge

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has wished departing Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky well, noting that her successor will have a big job ahead to reform Melbourne and Victoria’s public transport network.

“Lynne Kosky has been much maligned, but she inherited a number of problems from former minister Peter Batchelor, including poor maintenance practices and the poison chalice that is the Myki ticketing system”, said PTUA President Daniel Bowen.

Mr Bowen said that while Ms Kosky had been criticised for failing to take responsibility and action on the train system, she had started to fix the problems through increased investment in maintenance and infrastructure, the full effects of which are likely to be felt in the next 12-18 months.

“But there is much more to do, and the poor planning and decision making processes that led to our current transport mess are still in place.

“Melbourne is a growing city, and needs more services into growing areas, frequent trains seven-days-a-week, frequent buses properly timetabled to connect at stations, and better traffic light priority for trams.

“To get all this done, we need a public transport minister who will reform the management of the network; a minister prepared to tackle the Department of Transport’s problems of a lack of accountability and poor service planning. Deciding to establish a new Public Transport Authority, in line with the recent Senate report[1], would show that the new minister is serious.

“Right across Melbourne residents are crying out for better public transport that provides a genuine alternative to car travel. The challenge for the new minister is to deliver it.”

[1] The Inquiry into the Investment of Commonwealth and State Funds in Public Passenger Transport Infrastructure and Services, which reported in August 2009, included the point that “Australian Government funding for transport initiatives should be conditional on reforms to state and territory transport and planning departments to create central coordinating agencies along the model of the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia.”