The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has rejected the proposed busway to Mernda as a second-best solution, saying the rail line should be extended instead.
“When it comes to major infrastructure, you should do it right, do it once,” said PTUA president Daniel Bowen. “The existing rail reservation is still there, and should be used for rail.
“With a growing community, there are real concerns that the busway won’t have the required capacity, and that it will have to be eventually upgraded to rail. That will be a major inconvenience to the community, as well as a complete waste of money.
“In the meantime, passengers will face the unnecessary inconvenience of having to transfer between trains and buses in order to complete their journey. For those who have to drive to a bus station, that will mean two changes of mode just to get to Epping, the CBD or the inner suburbs.”
Mr Bowen said that while the government was to be applauded for proposing that every train would be met by a bus, previous experience had shown the implementation of connections was often lacking.
The PTUA has been concerned at cost blow-outs for rail projects, and Mr Bowen noted that other cities are able to build railway track at a much lower cost, with Perth’s 70 kilometre Mandurah line coming in at $960 million, or around $14 million per kilometre, which included underground sections.
“The government has downgraded Mernda from rail to a busway because they are unable to keep costs down; it’s as simple as that.”
Mr Bowen said that the government should release their research showing that the busway is a better option than rail for Mernda. “The new Transport Integration Act endorses a principle of transparency in decision-making that we are not seeing in this instance.
“Given tens of thousands of residents moving into the suburbs around Mernda and Doreen, a government with foresight would be providing a railway line, not a busway which may not cope with demand,” Mr Bowen concluded.