Victorians have spoken on need for public transport over roads

The Public Transport Users Association has congratulated the ALP and Premier-elect Daniel Andrews on their historic election victory, but has reminded the new government that Victorian electors will hold them to their promise to cancel the East West Link project.

“We’re very hopeful that this result in Victoria is where Australian politics starts to redeem itself,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton. “No more backflips, no more lies, no more wishy-washy spin doctoring by politicians who don’t do what they say.”

“One clear message from this election result is that Victorians want public transport, and they neither want nor care for the East West Link tollroad,” Dr Morton said. “The new Andrews Government has a mandate to ensure the East West Link is dead and buried. There are countless reasons to do so. Not only would it fail to deal with Melbourne’s traffic problems; not only would it unleash a wave of destruction and pollution over inner Melbourne; even worse, it is a fiscal vacuum cleaner that would strangle future initiatives on health, eduction and transport across Victoria for the next quarter century.”

Crowded train

“We are therefore particularly cheered at Mr Andrews’ actions today in restating his commitment to stop the road and seeking advice on the release of East West Link contracts and business case documents.”

“Every government that has gone to an election with any version of this reckless and destructive project has lost that election,” said Dr Morton. “Jeff Kennett floated the project and lost in 1999. John Brumby’s transport plan backed Westlink as the first stage of Rod Eddington’s east-west road, and lost the election in 2010. Now this year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott himself called the election a referendum on the East West Link – and for the third time it has been lost.”

“Victorians have made it clear they would rather change the government than allow this dog of a project to proceed. Even to the extent of dumping a government after a single term, when it promises to prioritise public transport investment but then turns around and wants to build a big road instead. This should make it clear that in the 21st century, no government should count on winning votes on the back of big road projects.”

Dr Morton urged the new government to consolidate its victory with a programme of public transport infrastructure and service investment. “First of all, Mr Andrews must demand that the Commonwealth put its $3 billion of funding back where it was originally, which was to support the Metro Rail Capacity Project,” he said. “The rail tunnel from Footscray to South Yarra via Parkville provides the equivalent of three West Gate Bridges of passenger capacity, and will help free up the West Gate itself for freight transport. Meanwhile, an upgrade to high-capacity signalling can boost the capacity on all our other rail lines by 50 per cent or more.”

“But regardless of the fate of Federal funding, the fact we won’t be flinging the road lobby some $500 million every year for the next 25 years means there’s plenty of room for ongoing investment in ‘first class public transport’ in the suburbs and in country Victoria,” said Dr Morton. “We’ll be able to afford to extend suburban rail, to fill the gaps in our tram network, to create a fast and effective bus network across our suburbs and regional cities, and to run more services every 10 minutes.”

Dr Morton said an Andrews Government needed a vision for 21st century transport and city life to rival the world’s other most liveable cities such as Vancouver, Copenhagen or Vienna. “Grade separation of level crossings is an important step to help people get around, but it’s not nearly enough by itself,” he said. “The world’s great cities didn’t get where they are by building roads, but by supporting sensitive urban development with excellent public transport, walking and cycling networks. These are planned and managed by strong yet nimble public agencies with the right people and the right budget.”