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Media Release

03/05/2001

Public Transport Group Welcomes Government Study But Wants To Know More

The Public Transport Users Association has cautiously welcomed the $2 million study of public transport options in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne announced yesterday by Transport Minister Peter Batchelor, but says some critical issues must be resolved before the study commences.

PTUA President Dr. Paul Mees said:

"We are pleased to see that the government seems at last to be acting on its 1999 election pledge to study ways of improving public transport in the outer eastern suburbs, and the amount allocated to fund the study seems to be about right. But there are some key questions that must be cleared up before the community can decide whether the study is going to be genuine or just another whitewash."

The transport policy Labor took to the 1999 Victorian election states:-

Regional transport plans

Labor will develop a series of regional plans during its first term. These plans will be comprehensive…. They will be developed in an enhanced planning regime within the Department of Infrastructure and will include local transport companies, local councils, relevant community organisations and user representatives.

The first of these regional transport plans will be in the outer eastern suburbs. This will be the first regional transport plan to be developed and will act as a demonstration model for other outer suburban regions of Melbourne. The plan will improve quality of life now and into the future, through increased mobility, patronage and a reduced dependence on excessive car use… The recommendations from the plan will be specific and detailed to allow for a subsequent cost benefit analysis, Environmental [sic] Effects Statement and community consultation.

(Transport Policy, Rebuilding the Transport Network, pp. 10-11.)

Dr. Mees called on the government to confirm that the promised process and objectives of the study remained in force. "In particular", said Dr. Mees, "we need to be reassured that the study will be community-based and that it will be directed to reducing dependence on cars."

"We have some concerns about the possibilities for reduction of car dependence, because the Transport Minister's press release seems to imply that the Scoresby Freeway is not going to be assessed as part of the study. Given that the Kennett government's 1998 Environment Effects Statement found that the freeway would increase car use, we believe it should be on the study's agenda too." Dr. Mees said.

The PTUA also expressed concern that projects like the tram extension to Knox, which were firm commitments in 1999, appear to have been downgraded to "feasibility studies". "We hope this does not indicate a lessening in commitment to these vital projects", Dr. Mees said.

Lastly, the PTUA also called on the Federal government and Opposition to guarantee that no funding application for the Scoresby Freeway will be considered until the public transport study is concluded. "The guidelines for Roads of National Importance state that, to be eligible for funding, a project must 'form part of an integrated transport and land use strategy'. By commissioning the public transport study, the Victorian government is conceding that there is no integrated transport strategy for Melbourne's outer east. Therefore, the Scoresby Freeway cannot be considered for funding until such a strategy has been produced." Dr. Mees said.

Contacts:
PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 03 May 2001