The Public Transport Users Association held its thirtieth AGM this evening marking a milestone in the advocacy for better public transport in Melbourne. Thirty years ago the cancellation of a Lilydale train, led East Ringwood resident Frank Casey to seek a group of like-minded individuals to form an organisation focused on public transport advocacy.
That organisation originally known at the Train Travellers Association (TTA) later became the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) to represent its focus on all modes of public transport. The dedication shown towards the organisation is evident through people such as Patrick O’Connor who remained a committee member from its foundation days through to his passing in 1998.
Over the past thirty years the PTUA has had a number of successes including uniform weekend timetables for train and tram services, the introduction of NightRider services, all-night services on New Years Eve, the grade separation and subsequent upgrade of the Boronia interchange and the introduction of SmartBus services that provide more frequent and later running bus services and not just electronic signs.
The PTUA has also been growing at a local level with branches established in Geelong (seven years), the outer east (three years), the southeast and the northeast meaning the PTUA is able to cover much of Melbourne with local expertise in a responsive manner.
This year alone the PTUA focused on the Transport and Liveability Statement and condemned this plan when it failed to deliver key promises and appeared to abandon the goal of 20% public transport modal share by the year 2020.
These highlights were featured in a video that showed archived media footage of the PTUA’s various campaigns over the past thirty years. It is worth noting that Channel Seven won an award for amateur footage taken by the PTUA in demonstrating the chaos that occurred to a due a lack of public transport on the 2003/2004 New Year’s Eve.
The new slogan for the PTUA was also unveiled – Standing Up for Passengers since 1976.
The PTUA’s AGM included a celebration of not just the past thirty years but also for the future of the organisation. With a state election just eight weeks away the efforts of the PTUA in demonstrating the importance of public transport will be crucial in ensuring that Melbourne has relief from rising petrol prices and worsening traffic congestion.
In the post-AGM meeting I was elected as Vice-President in recognition of the importance the success that the outer eastern branch has had to date. With a number of marginal seats being located in eastern Melbourne, the outer east is well poised to demonstrate the importance of public transport in this year’s State Election.