Category Archives: News

Melbourne’s public transport is in crisis

Melbourne's public transport is in crisis - brochure coverMelbourne’s public transport is in crisis — and your vote can make a difference.

  • Cancellations
  • Poor connections
  • Crowding
  • Trams stuck in traffic

Read the full brochure (PDF 338 Kb)

The current privatisation arrangements need to end. There could be a role for private operators — as subcontractors providing the services specified by a public authority — but the ‘franchise’ model introduced in 1999 by the Coalition and renewed in 2004 and 2009 by Labor hasn’t worked. Scores of organisations are arranged in an impenetrable maze of bureaucratic confusion, and with no central control there is poor coordination between services, poor planning, and buck-passing.

Find out more about why public transport management and planning needs a shakeup, and send your local candidates an email at the Public Transport That Works web site.

This brochure is directed at residents of Melbourne’s inner suburbs, but remember, wherever you are: If you want better public transport, in this election, look carefully at the policies of all the candidates. Make your vote count.

PTUA comments on TTF report on funding/concessions

PTUA comments on the Transport and Tourism Forum report on public transport funding:

We shouldn’t fall for the trap of believing that public transport should make a profit. It doesn’t recoup its costs any more than the public health system, the education system, law enforcement or for that matter the road system – these are all subsidised by taxpayers for the good of everyone. Even those who never use public transport recognise that if it wasn’t there, there would be chaos on our roads.

Melbourne’s public transport fares are already some of the highest in Australia, and for suburban trips, fares are often more expensive than just getting in the car. The danger of increasing fares further is that it will lead to a decline in patronage, requiring an even bigger taxpayer subsidy, and adding to the traffic on the roads.
Continue reading PTUA comments on TTF report on funding/concessions

Free public transport on Friday

Frankston line, 9:20amIn order to try and make up for the widespread train service disruptions on Tuesday, all Melbourne (zone 1 and 2) public transport (trains, trams and buses) will be free on Friday. Further information from Metlink.

Weekly, monthly and yearly ticketholders can apply for a free daily ticket from Metro.

V/Line users with a ticket that was valid on Tuesday can apply for a free travel voucher.

While we don’t expect that those who faced long delays will be placated by a free day’s travel, the PTUA encourages eligible users to submit a claim form. And we encourage you to make sure ensure the government knows that you care about public transport, and want to see more and better services. Make your voice heard.

PTUA welcomes endorsement of Every 10 Minutes campaign

The Public Transport Users Association has commended Melbourne’s new train operator, Metro Trains Melbourne, for its support of the PTUA’s ‘Every 10 Minutes to Everywhere’ campaign.

In a statement to The Age on 16 January, Metro Trains chief executive Andrew Lezala referred to the PTUA’s campaign to run trains, trams and buses every 10 minutes, and said “this was the correct approach”. “I like the tram network because the frequency is such that you do not need to understand the timetable.” The train network needed that frequency, he said.
Continue reading PTUA welcomes endorsement of Every 10 Minutes campaign

Study Casts Doubt On Extended Clearway Benefits

A seven-month travel time study has found no noticeable improvement in tram travel times from extended clearway hours on Sydney Road in Brunswick.

For some time, PTUA Secretary Tony Morton has been travelling to and from work with a stopwatch. His aim is to measure—carefully and scientifically—what it is that’s making Melbourne trams so slow. His stopwatch counts up the ‘dead time’ on tram journeys: the lost time when the tram isn’t actually picking up or dropping off passengers, yet is not moving.
Continue reading Study Casts Doubt On Extended Clearway Benefits

The truth behind South Morang

Originally posted at Transport and (in abridged form) in the PTUA Newsletter.

TrackworksEver since the Victorian Transport Plan last December flagged that the South Morang rail extension would finally be built, there has been speculation as to why the cost was so high. At $650 million for a 3.5 kilometre extension, many pondered if it would include gold-plated rails and platforms.

When the 2009 state budget actually committed funding to it, the price had dropped slightly to $562 million, but this was due to the initial figure including running costs, apparently for several decades. Even counting the duplication from Keon Park to Epping at the same cost as the extension, it was still five times higher than the per-kilometre cost of the Craigieburn project completed just two years ago.

A feature article in The Age in June highlighted the issue, with local activists delighted at the commitment but mystified over the price, the opposition claiming taxpayers are being dudded, and public transport advocates (such as myself) fearing that the high price will discourage governments from future rail extensions. The Department of Transport offered the explanation that the project was a “more holistic approach to scoping the expansion of the Epping line”, but apparently didn’t clarify this in any great detail.

We (the PTUA) subsequently met with the Department, and finally discovered the real truth behind the term “holistic”. It turns out the scope of work is much bigger than just the South Morang extension plus duplication from Keon Park.

The way it was described, it includes:

  • Keon Park to Epping
    • duplication, obviously including track and overhead
    • two or three pedestrian grade-separations
    • station upgrades, and an additional platform at Thomastown
    • upgrades to 4 level crossings to latest standard
    • resignalling, including removal of bidirectional signalling on the existing single track (it conflicts with the proposed location of the second track), and re-signalling most of the rest of the line, almost down to Clifton Hill
    • stabling at Epping, with driver facilities to enable future changeovers to move away from Flinders St
    • extra substations
  • Epping to South Morang
    • dual track, overhead. We were told the old alignment can’t be used without modification, as there are grade separations and other issues with it
    • signalling
    • Dalton Road grade separation. Due to proximity of Epping train maintenance facilities (which can’t be moved), relocation of local roads (which can’t be disconnected from Dalton Rd) and the nearest creek (which the track must get over), this is said to be a reasonably complicated component, on a similar scale to Springvale Road grade separation
    • 3 bridges over creeks
    • bike/ped path along rail route, and included in bridges
    • grade separation of Pindari Avenue and Civic Drive
    • a new substation
    • communications systems including radio towers
    • South Morang station, including bike, bus, car parking, and provision for further extension to Mernda
  • Hurstbridge line
    • signalling upgrades on parts of line, to help harmonise frequencies to work better with the Epping/South Morang line
    • stabling at Eltham, including driver facilities, and which will require the moving of some existing trackwork

The scope of works goes some way to explaining the cost. Perhaps it doesn’t bring it down to the level of Perth’s Mandurah line, but at the very least it brings it back down to somewhere near Planet Earth.

It seems to makes some sense to include in the project scope upgrades that will help the rest of the Clifton Hill group run better. If things turn out to plan, in 2013 (just in time for the 2014 state election) the benefits should be felt not just to residents in South Morang, but also elsewhere along the Epping and Hurstbridge lines.

What is a real mystery is why the Department doesn’t publicise the true scope of the project. While the information is apparently no secret, as a number of groups have been briefed on the project breakdown, neither has it been made public.

Surely flagging the real scope of the project, with all the resultant benefits, would be better for the government than hiding the details away and having major newspapers writing feature articles highlighting the apparent cost overruns and implying incompetent project management.

Rail Inquiry submission released

The PTUA submission to the Victorian upper house Select Committee on Train Services has been released.

PTUA submission (PDF, 449Kb)


The present inquiry has been prompted by an ongoing and widespread pattern of failure in Victoria’s train services, culminating in the near-total shutdown of the metropolitan system in extreme heat conditions in late January 2009. In keeping with the terms of reference, this submission does not aim to catalogue the failures that have occurred in Victorian train services in recent years, but to analyse the underlying factors.
Continue reading Rail Inquiry submission released

Brumby to blame for poor Federal transport priorities

Public transport infrastructure announced for Melbourne in this year’s “nation building” Federal Budget may not deliver any real benefit to passengers – and the Brumby State Government is entirely to blame, says the PTUA.

“All indications are that when it comes to Victorian public transport, Wayne Swan will be ploughing all the available money into the metro rail tunnel,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. “But it’s a completely unnecessary project. We have already doubled the capacity of the city’s rail network: we did it in the 1970s, with the City Loop, yet everyone seems to have forgotten. All this new tunnel will do is soak up all the money that should be used to extend rail and bus services into our growing suburbs.”
Continue reading Brumby to blame for poor Federal transport priorities

PTUA Advances Liveable Transport Plan Alternative

Connecting To The Future - cover imageMelbourne’s train services would double, buses would run every 10 minutes on every arterial road, and more country rail lines would be restored. And this would only cost 40% of the government’s $38 billion transport plan, according to a new report released today by the PTUA.

The Connecting to the Future report is billed as the alternative to the Victorian Transport Plan. Its proposed package of improved public transport services and targeted road works includes rail extensions to Rowville, Doncaster, Mernda, Clyde, Mornington and the Airport, tram extensions, return of conductors to trams and staff to all stations, country train lines, level crossing removals, rural road and bridge repairs, and a massive boost to bus services.
Continue reading PTUA Advances Liveable Transport Plan Alternative