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Media Release


Transport Plan Labelled 'A Disgrace'

The draft Outer Western Suburbs Transport Strategy has been labelled 'a disgrace' by the Public Transport Users Association. The Strategy was released in May for a period of public comment which closed last week. PTUA President Dr. Paul Mees said:

"This disgraceful document epitomises everything that was wrong with transport planning and urban planning under the Kennett government. The strategy was put together by a cabal of road engineers from Vicroads and municipal councils, and Department of Infrastructure bureaucrats, without any public consultation or involvement whatsoever. As a result, the document is basically a wish-list of road engineers' toys - new six-lane roads, new freeways, new freeway interchanges - with token references to public transport and bikes tacked on as concessions to 'political correctness'."

Dr. Mees, who lectures in transport and land use planning at the University of Melbourne, added: "If this document was handed in by one of my students, I would not only fail it but suggest the student think seriously about another career. The report fails all the key tasks any credible transport strategy should accomplish."

"Firstly, it fails to ask (because its authors didn't bother to consult anyone) what kind of outcomes the local community wants from its transport system. Had it done so, it is likely that the community would have responded with something like the 'triple bottom line' agreed on at the recent State Summit chaired by Bob Hawke. This is that we want to improve the environment, and social equity, and economic efficiency."

"The second thing the strategy should do is compare the existing situation and current trends against these goals. Currently, in Melbourne's outer West, we have unsustainable transport patterns (very low public transport patronage and growing car and truck use, leading to noise and pollution); people without cars are second-class citizens because public transport is so poor; and economic efficiency is being compromised because the rail system is under-utilised, while roads are congested."

"The third thing the strategy should then have done is look at the options for changing the current, undesirable trends. Instead of offering people the choice of using public transport for some of their travel, the document proposes to redouble the disastrous road-dominated policies that are causing current problems."

Dr. Mees cited the City of Wyndham as an example. "Wyndham is a rapidly growing area with over 80,000 residents, but there isn't a single bus route that runs at all in the evenings, or on Sundays, or on public holidays. Meanwhile, in much wealthier areas like Kew, Balwyn and Malvern, trams run frequently until midnight every day of the year. What is the strategy's response? It simply ignores this problem."

"Meanwhile, over in Melton, there are also no Sunday buses. And the rail service is hopelessly infrequent too. The response? The study says electrification of the line 'is not warranted', but doesn't propose any other solution either."

"Level crossings have been a serious source of dissatisfaction in the Outer West. For example, the crossing at St Albans divides the community and delays local traffic. Again, the study has nothing to offer. And St Albans has no evening or Sunday buses either, but the strategy does not propose that any be provided."

Dr. Mees added that it is important to understand that the study report claims it is intended to address transport requirements for the next 20 years (p. i). "If its recommendations are accepted, they will lock Melbourne's Outer West into a cycle of poor public transport, dependence on cars, traffic congestion and pollution for a generation."

Dr. Mees pointed out that before the 1999 State election, the ALP promised to conduct a series of regional transport studies that, unlike those of the Kennett government, would treat all modes of transport (not just roads) seriously and be based on genuine community participation. "The first such study is scheduled for the Outer Eastern suburbs, and already there, local councils such as Knox and Greater Dandenong have taken the lead and begun to bring residents together to talk about changing direction. This approach should be the model for the West, and the current Outer Western Suburbs Transport Strategy should be scrapped.", Dr. Mees concluded.

PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 5 August 2000