PTUA welcomes rail investment, calls for more funding for services

Passengers boarding a tram

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) welcomed today’s Victorian Budget, with substantial investment in rail infrastructure, as well as expansion of the accessible tram fleet.

“The planned upgrade to the Geelong line, and the long-awaited Airport rail line are very welcome”, said PTUA spokesperson Daniel Bowen. “It’s also great to see funding for regional rail upgrades and zero-emissions buses, and the Suburban Rail Loop kick-started.

“Suburban Rail Loop is the type of project that can help the shift from a car dependent to a sustainable transport community – in contrast to the government’s major motorway projects such as North East Link and West Gate Tunnel, which unfortunately are pulling Melbourne in the opposite direction.”

Mr Bowen said the investment in trams was a big step forward. “100 new low-floor trams will make a big difference, though obviously this will need to be followed-up with further investment to make the whole tram fleet accessible, and the government must work harder at accelerating the rollout of tram platform stops.”

Mr Bowen said that funding for bus and tram network planning was also welcome, and along with the infrastructure projects, planted the seeds for future service upgrades.

“The sooner service improvements such as on-road priority, bus route reform and frequency upgrades can be delivered, the better”, said Mr Bowen.

“Labor has an impressive record on infrastructure. But public transport isn’t just about infrastructure. It’s also about fast, reliable, frequent services – these are key to encouraging people to use the system, and getting the maximum return for the substantial investment in that infrastructure.”

Public transport service provision per capita has declined in recent years, according to figures compiled by Monash University[1]. Mr Bowen said that “while this budget funds some extra bus services, overall, public transport services are not keeping up with population growth.”

Mr Bowen said that as the state comes out of COVID-19, it is vital that the government supports the recovery, particularly by targeting public transport upgrades at the outer suburban and regional communities hit hardest by the economic downturn.

“Good quality public transport has a vital role to play in ensuring that people right across Melbourne and Victoria have good access to jobs, education and opportunity – without the financial burden of every adult in the household having to own and run a car.

“More frequent trams, trains and buses across the day are desperately needed to cut waiting times, improve connections, and provide a viable alternative to driving”, concluded Mr Bowen.

[1] Government News: Melbourne population boom outstrips transport