This morning, at Heatherdale Station, I conducted the Eastern Transport Coalition’s survey to ascertain the extent in which commuters drive to avoid paying the excessive cost of a zone three fare.
The overwhelming support for the Eastern Transport Coalition’s campaign for the abolition of zone three was extremely encouraging with a significant majority of commuters mentioning that they regularly drive to avoid the cost of the additional cost of a zone three fare.
The existence of zone three is an oddity that only occurs in the eastern and southeastern suburbs of Melbourne and is due to the experimentation of the now aborted ‘neighbourhood zones’ in the mid 1980s. In fact prior to the introduction of the neighbourhood system Ringwood and the outer east was located within zone two, demonstrating that the removal of zone three is both possible and feasible.
It is clear that the existence of zone three is causing excessive traffic congestion through the center of Ringwood, as commuters are clearly choosing to drive to avoid the additional cost of zone three. This also has a detrimental effect on bus services as commuters from as far away as Chrinside Park, Lilydale or Bayswater are choosing to drive to avoid zone three rather than catch buses to their nearest rail stations. As a result the amenity of Heatherdale is affected due to the excessive and unnatural demand for car parking simply due to the fare boundaries.
Hurstbridge is located further from the CBD than Ringwood or Belgrave and yet is located in zone two, demonstrating that the Government appears intent to place an additional financial burden on the eastern suburbs. The continued existence of such inequity makes a mockery of the government’s catchcry of creating ‘a fairer Victoria’.
Melbourne needs fair public transport fares, which do not unfairly penalise the eastern and southeastern suburbs. Furthermore there is a need to remove the high additional cost that exists when travelling between more than one zone since the current additional cost creates a strong disincentive for using public transport.
I would to thank everyone that completed the survey. Your participation in this campaign will help Maroondah and the Eastern Transport Coalition in its fight for fair public transport fares.
I would also like to thank the station hosts at Heatherdale who were incredibly supportive and understanding of the ETC’s campaign. The commuters of Heatherdale Station are fortunate to have such friendly station hosts that truly understand the value of customer service.