The Age has included an editorial on the growing strain on the Westgate Bridge and the lack of public transport available in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.
The Age states:
Back in 2002, Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said West Gate was a “top priority”, but added: “We have in place longer-term policies to bring about a shift in demand by getting commuters to use passenger trains.”
Except that public transport is not in place in the new suburbs. Transport infrastructure has completely failed to match the pace and pattern of suburban growth. So, while soaring petrol prices give commuters more reason to use public transport than ever before, West Gate is still hopelessly congested.
While the editorial focuses on Melbourne’s west, the same can be said for much of Melbourne’s outer suburbs, where public transport has failed to be provided:
Referring to suburban growth, the Government’s public transport director, Jim Betts, conceded recently that “we didn’t plan effectively in advance for public transport and we didn’t fund it properly. We’ve got to try and do it better.”
Yet public transport is still treated as an afterthought.
Within the outer east, residents are often left without Sunday or evening public transport services. In many parts of the outer suburbs even major thoroughfares, such as Maroondah Highway lack readily available public transport. This has resulted in centres such as Doncaster East and Chirnside Park being isolated to everyone except car drivers.
The closing remarks in editorial ring true:
Melburnians need the Government to “do it better” in providing efficient mass transport systems.
Governments of all levels need to do it better. While the funding of public transport is a State Government responsibility, local councils have a significant responsibility in advocating for upgraded services.
For the past two years, since I founded the Outer East Branch of the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), I have continually stated that Maroondah Council must develop its own Integrated Transport Strategy to provide an advocacy tool to solicit greater public transport funding.
Two years later Maroondah Council has now provided a draft version of its Integrated Transport Strategy and this document is expected to adopted within the new year.
Strong advocacy from local government is essentially to ensure greater public transport for our outer suburbs.