The Eastern Region Integrated Transport Group (ERITG) consists of eight Outer East Councils to provide a regional approach to public transport advocacy.
The current council members include:
- Greater Dandenong
- Yarra Ranges
While each member council provides varying degrees of municipal specific public transport advocacy the aim of the regional focus is to provide a united approach to lobbying efforts. ERITG has become much more focused since the last time I spoke and the group is developing a clear sense of advocacy and a list of projects it sees as a priority.
As such it is of no surprise that the poor level of bus services throughout the Outer East is a key focal point for the ERITG.
As the Outer East Branch Convener of the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) I was invited to provide a presentation outlining key campaign priorities.
- The victory over the Ringwood to Frankston SmartBus (which also actively involved Knox and Greater Dandenong Councils);
- The need for the Doncaster Road Tram Extension (which will allow for the streamlining of bus services);
- and the active and constructive involvement the PTUA and also the Ringwood Transit City Community Coalition (RTCCC) is providing within the Transit Cities of Ringwood, Box Hill and Dandenong.
This outline of current activities was reinforced by the major topic of my presentation, the fact that Melbourne’s current Metropolitan Bus Contracts will expire in 2007.
The renegotiation over contracts and the fact that a State Election will be held in 2006 provides a real opportunity to ensure a comprehensive reform of Melbourne’s bus services. The concept of zero-based planning; that is the complete redesign of the bus network to ensure frequent and direct services that run seven days a week from 6am to midnight is a real possibility, if this supported by a cohesive push from councils, bus operators and community organisations such as the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).
To assist in achieving the objective I proposed the establishment of a Steering Committee comprising of member councils, the Bus Association of Victoria (BAV, which is the peak bus industry group) and the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA). I am pleased to say that this motion was passed by the ERITG and that a terms of reference providing an appropriate scope for this committee will be established within the next month.
This is a major step forward in the campaign for comprehensive improvements to the bus network and which will ensure great mobility and relief from rising petrol prices for residents in the outer east.
I am hopeful that with a collective approach we will ensure a major public transport for public transport in Melbourne’s outer suburbs and the outer east.