Shaping a new Public Transport Authority

The most significant policy commitment of the incoming Baillieu Government is the creation of a Public Transport Development Authority for Victoria. Getting this one right will make all the difference between Victoria having some of the best public transport in the world, and a continuation of the current mediocre, politically poisonous setup.

The good news is that Transport Minister Terry Mulder now has a wealth of interstate and overseas experience to draw on when constituting and recruiting the government’s PTDA. Zurich, Vancouver, London, Perth and to some extent Brisbane all provide good examples of what to do. While they embody a number of different specific organisational structures and relationships, they share common features that make them successful. For the benefit of PTUA members, we list these briefly here.

Full coordinating responsibility

Diagram of organisations running public transport in VictoriaA successful PTDA is a ‘one stop shop’ for system planning and operational coordination. Individual operators work under contract to the PTDA, with the PTDA being the single point of contact for the public and for other public authorities, including the Department of Transport. This contrasts with the current arrangement where over 100 entities share final responsibility for aspects of the system (see this diagram).

Statutory authority

The PTDA should be constituted as a statutory authority under an amended Transport Integration Act, with equivalent standing to Vicroads, and an independent board like that of Vicroads.

International expertise

Senior personnel must be recruited from the best network planning talent available internationally, not merely within Australia and not by redeploying local resources.

Community engagement

The PTDA board should conduct its meetings in public, the way a municipal council does. Following the example of Vancouver Translink, meetings should allocate a session where submissions can be received from the public.

Superseded bureaucracies

Planning functions currently vested in other entities such as the Transport Ticketing Authority, Metlink and the Director of Public Transport should be transferred to the PTDA, with the other entities reverting to service delivery and contract management agencies.

More details: www.ptua.org.au/campaigns/govern

This article is from the PTUA’s December 2010 newsletter. Please join to receive regular newsletters.