Both the Herald Sun and the MX have today reported that Wyndham City Council, (in Melbourne’s outer west) has formed an internal working group to undertake a scoping study for the Wyndham City Council to construct, own and operate its own tramway system.
This demonstrates that an ever increasing number of councils throughout all of Metropolitan Melbourne are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of action from the State Government in delivering tangible public transport service improvements.
Most pertinent is Wyndham Council’s strongly worded language used in their scoping study report:
The State Government has identified a desire to achieve 20 per cent of all trips in Melbourne to be undertaken on public transport by the year 2020. It is clear from the budget initiatives over the past several years that there is no intent within the State Government to provide any serious investment in public transport infrastructure within Melbourne and certainly very little within Wyndham.
The City of Wyndham has joined a growing list of organisations, such as the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), Save Our Suburbs (SOS) and council bodies such as the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) and Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF) which are becoming increasingly dissatisfied and frustrated over State Government inaction in substantially improving public transport.
This is expressed in the Wyndham City Report which introduced the scoping study:
If the City of Wyndham is not to be left bereft of a reasonable public transport system, such as the tram system proposed here, it is clear that the residents of Wyndham must plan, implement and operate such a system themselves.
While strongly worded statements from Councillors or indeed any politician is nothing new – it is new to find these statements within an official council adopted report.
The Cities of Hume and Knox have conducted public transport feasibility studies. The City of Greater Dandenong funds its own metcard operated bus services and the Shire of Yarra Ranges recently conducted a public advocacy campaign for improved bus services. Now Wyndham is looking at funding and constructing its own tram network.
The response from the State Government has made it clear that they have no action plan of their own:
“We wouldn’t have a problem with that at all and the Government would want to work with the council to get the best possible outcome for the community,” [Kate Leonard, spokesperson for Transport Minister Peter Batchelor]
Instead we hear the same often repeated quote: ‘transport would improve as the Metropolitan Transport Plan, released late last year, meant a better bus system was on its way.’
Empty promises about improving bus services are all well and good, but when will the State Government finally provide action to support its policy commitment of improving and increasing public transport usage?
Werribee, located within Wyndham, is, like Ringwood, a nominated Transit City. One of the aims of the Transit Cities program is to encourage public transport usage – yet this will not be possible unless the State Government urgently funds much needed public transport service improvements.