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Media Release


Free Christmas travel "gimmick" obscures lack of service

The Public Transport Users Association today described free public transport on Christmas Day as a "gimmick" given that tens of thousands of Melburnians will have no public transport at all on five days between Christmas and the New Year.

PTUA President Paul Mees said:

"The PTUA has never called for free public transport, either generally or on Christmas Day, and is not concerned that patrons will have to pay to travel this Christmas. Free travel is a gimmick that obscures the real issue, which is of fundamental importance."

"The real problem is that two-thirds of Melburnians do not have access to any public transport services at all on Christmas Day. While trams and trains are running to the normal Sunday timetable, fewer than a dozen bus routes are running across the whole of Melbourne. Very few Melbourne bus routes operate on Sundays or public holidays, and most of those that do close down on Christmas Day. As a result of the poor Sunday and holiday services, and the even poorer Christmas services, thousands of Melburnians will be isolated over the Christmas-New Year period," Dr Mees said.

No buses at all for five days

Dr Mees cited the example of the City of Greater Dandenong, which has a population of 126,000. Dandenong is a low-income area and 12.8% of households have no car (compared with the Melbourne-wide average of 11.2%, from 1996 census figures). Dr Mees said: "Over the nine day period between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, there are no bus services at all in Greater Dandenong for five of those nine days. Given that one household in eight has no car, this means thousands of people will be stranded."


"The story is similar in most other outer suburban areas. There are no buses at all for five of the nine days in Melton, Wyndham (Werribee) or Whittlesea."

"The Bracks government was elected on a platform of improving public transport and shifting the transport policy balance away from an obsession with freeway-building to a more equitable situation. But nothing has been done about the dreadful state of suburban public transport. Instead, Transport Minister Peter Batchelor has announced a $400 million extension of the Eastern Freeway, and is lobbying the Federal government for billions of dollars in funding for new freeways such as the Scoresby Freeway."

"It's time the thousands of Melbourne residents trapped at home received a Christmas present from the State government. It's time extravagant freeway-building took a back seat to providing basic mobility for everyone", said Dr Mees.

PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 21 December 2000