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Labor transport policy: Good upgrades, but big gaps remain

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed the launch of Labor’s transport policy, and said that it contained a number of worthwhile initiatives that would make life easier for passengers, but warned that it was not a comprehensive vision for fixing Victoria’s public transport woes.

PTUA President Daniel Bowen said it was pleasing to see a number of the PTUA’s priorities[1] in the ALP’s policy, and that the deployment of staff to all Metro electrified stations was significant step forward.

“Although it is unclear how many stations would be staffed from first to last train, there are obvious benefits for safety and security, as well as for customer service. Live monitoring of CCTV and additional transit police would also improve security”, said Mr Bowen. “We’ll keep pushing for all stations to have fulltime staffing, but this is a big boost.”

Mr Bowen said that Geelong train commuters are big winners, with weekday interpeak train services to be upgraded to every twenty minutes (currently hourly) under Labor. The policy also pledged a further twenty V/Locity carriages to help cut overcrowding on V/Line services.

And Monash University students would see an end to the long waits and crush loads on buses at Huntingdale[2], with a new bus interchange and shuttle buses to campus running every 3-4 minutes in peak. The PTUA also welcomed more bike cages at stations.

But Mr Bowen criticised the $56 million to be spent on 2060 park and ride spaces. “At an average cost of more than $17,000 each (and with those at Glen Waverley priced at over $68,000 each), these car spaces are not good value for money. You should not need to drive to a railway station to use public transport. Better connecting bus services would be more beneficial to all train users, not just those lucky few who can get to a station by 8am to get a car space.”

Mr Bowen said that the biggest gap was for bus and tram users. “The policy has little for buses and trams. Not a single tram line will be extended, and Labor has not announced any new Smartbus routes – despite the success of the existing ones.

“There is funding for upgraded local and regional town bus services, but we’ll have to wait to see the detail around it to be able to judge.

“It is also disappointing that nothing has been announced around the reform of public transport management and planning, which will continue to result in poor connections across Melbourne[3]. There is no pledge to build stations at Campellfield, Cave Hill or Southland. No promise to upgrade suburban train, tram and Smartbus frequencies to provide a comprehensive frequent network across Melbourne.

“And there is no movement from Labor on rail lines to Doncaster or Rowville, unlike the Coalition, who have promised feasibility studies into both. Perhaps Labor has forgotten that the Rowville rail line was their policy back in 1999.

“But overall there are some positive upgrades in Labor’s policy, particularly around station staff. We call on the Coalition to match Labor’s pledges on staffing and services, and look forward to seeing the rest of their policies”, concluded Mr Bowen.

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[1] PTUA’s public transport priorities for 2010-2014:

[2] Huntingdale chaos brings renewed call for Monash/Rowville rail

[3] Poor connections leave passengers waiting