This afternoon Lindy Burns from ABC 774 interviewed me at an outside broadcast located at Southern Cross Station to discuss public transport issues in the lead up to the November state election.
Lindy stated that public transport and transport in general were major issues for the November State Election and highlighted the improvements that are required to ensure a frequent, reliable coordinated and readily available public transport system. As an example, in 1992 the frequency of trains were improved on the Sandringham line and overall coordination was increased. Due to these service improvements patronage increased by 38% demonstrating how crucial frequency improvements are to improving public transport modal share.
Unfortunately, over the last seven years the State Government has delivered nothing more than just tokenistic public transport improvements and nowhere is this more apparent than the bus network, which still fails to provide frequencies comparable to the train or tram network.
The $10.5 billion that was allocated over the next decade through the Transport and Liveability Statement (known as Meeting Our Transport Challenges) is more than enough to solve Melbourne’s transport woes but grossly misallocated. Rather than petty gestures priorities should have included rail network expansion in areas such as South Morang and Cranbourne East, both of which were promised rail extensions back in 1999. Instead the State Government is forcing the people of South Morang to now wait at least 10 to 15 years for their promised line and yet Whittlesea is fortunate compared to Cranbourne East, where the government has decided to neglect Melbourne’s fastest growing urban corridor by failing to plan or deliver the Cranbourne East rail extension.
While rail extensions are crucial for Melbourne’s growth areas, there is also a need to enhance the level of bus services to a standard comparable to the well-patronised tram network. Currently, most of Melbourne’s bus network is very confusing due to highly convoluted routes that are in a dire need of being overhauled.
The success of Perth, which has prioritised public transport projects, through doubling its rail network and providing frequent bus services, has allowed enhanced mobility and demonstrates just how far behind Melbourne is when it comes to international and national best practices.
With just over four weeks to the next State Election it is imperative that our political parties commit to securing the economic, social and environmental success of Melbourne by pledging to deliver real public transport improvements. After seven years of rhetoric Melbourne’s public transport system needs urgent action.