Sustainable Transport

The Age: Tolls urged to cut traffic

By March 14, 20074 Comments

The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission report into traffic congestion was releases today, along with the State Government’s response to its recommendations.

The report, which was covered in The Age, has painted a dire picture for Melbourne’s worsening traffic congestion and its recommendations, which included much needed rail extensions and better bus services, rightfully called on the Government to take immediate action in tackling this situation.

Public Transport Users Association president Alex Makin said the report revealed holes in the Government’s transport policy. “There’s a need pointed out by the commission to accelerate bus and train projects, but the Government rests on its laurels saying these issues have been addressed in last year’s transport plan,” Mr Makin said.

The State Government can no longer afford to ignore Melbourne’s worsening traffic congestion. Melbourne requires expansion of the rail network in line with urban growth, logical extensions to the tram network and vastly improved bus services. It is only through providing real transport choice, in the form of being able to catch public transport, that the Government can mitigate rising traffic congestion.

Alex Makin

Alex Makin

Alex Makin is a councillor for the Mullum Ward in the City of Maroondah. Alex has been a councillor since 2005, representing ratepayers, businesses, community groups and residents. I aim to continue making a difference and welcome any thoughts you may have in regard to life, community and business in Maroondah. Phone: (03) 9870 8202 or 0408 311 645 Email:


  • marion harper says:

    I am secretary of preston’reservoir progress assoc. reservoir
    tenant group inc. and the melbourne unitarian peace memorial
    church and each of these organisations after discussion emphati
    cally support the government taking back transport into their
    hands, what is your policy on this?

  • Alex Makin says:

    Hello Marion,

    Thank you for your email message.

    Unfortunately the current franchising arrangements make it far too easy for the government and the private operators to simply shift blame and not take responsibility. Ultimately the current arrangements provide very little accountability meaning that even very simple issues remain unresolved. As an example, the current arrangements make it difficult for the government to instruct bus operators to connect with train services resulting in many instances where buses depart just as trains are pulling into a station.

    The PTUA is calling for a model similar to he one adopted in Western Australia, where there is a government agency that coordinates and plans public transport. The actual running of services, should be tendered on a fee-for-service basis, where the operator (whether government or private) needs to meet a number of performance criteria.

    This has worked tremendously well in Perth, where the private bus operators are required to ensure coordinated services with the train network. The problem in Melbourne is not so much the fact that we have private operators but that we have current arrangements that prevent clear accountability and coordination.

    The Government should be responsible for anything that is outside the logical interest of a specific operator. This means the government should be responsible for network-wide planning, overall coordination and service standards. The operators should simply be responsible for running their service and maintenance requirements.

    This model would also compel the government to act on measures that improve the efficiency of public transport, such as tram and bus priority, since it would mean that there is a financial saving to government if operators can complete their requirement at a lower cost.

    Hope this helps you. Please do let me know if you would like any further information.



  • Marion harper says:

    Thankyou for your response. Our attitude is very definite, we do not support private operators running our public transport system and certainly not being heavily subsidized as they are. We are tired of privatization and PPPs which are simply in our view a means of the taxpayer subsidizing private for profit companies.

    The Government should get back to its primary responsibility of providing essential services and not spent our money and its time in other frivolous activities such as ‘major events’ And other unimportant issues while people struggle to exist. The government and the opposition continue to refer to ‘middle Australia’ and ‘working Autralia’ as if the bottom and non working Australians don’t exist.

    I work for a community that is on the bottom and their concerns are simply to find enough money to eat. Sometimes I despair of politicians, I am sure you do also.

    Thanks again for listening to my moans!! Marion

  • Alex Makin says:

    Hello Marion,

    I certainly agree with your sentiments. The current arrangements achieve nothing more than allowing buck-passing to the benefit of the government and this is seen across many areas such as public transport.

    It is crucial that the government, with a sufficiently empowered transport agency, takes control of the coordination, scheduling and requirements of public transport. Ultimately the government should be responsible for setting the standards (frequency, operating hours, coordination between modes, etc.) and these must be at a level that provides a real choice in using public transport.

    As an example, the current approach of the State Government where it simply tells two-thirds of Melbourne to put up with hourly bus services is sorely inadequate. The government must ensure that public transport is a viable choice to entice people to use the system and thus mitigate congestion, increase social mobility and reduce greenhouse emissions.

    The government is well aware of what is required, back in 2003 the Department of Infrastructure completed a Train, Tram and Bus Plan. These plans (which were supposed to form the core basis of Melbourne 2030) clearly stated that at least 15 minute service frequencies and services through to midnight, seven days a week were required for Melbourne’s train, tram and bus routes that travel along main roads. It is an indictment on the former Transport Minister that these three plans were buried and simply eroded into the less than impressive Transport and Liveability Statement.

    The fact that services still largely fail to coordinate (a relatively basic task) clearly demonstrates that the current arrangements are a failure.

    I certainly agree that we need to make our politicians aware of such issues. The current contractual expire in November 2008 but the government must state its intent by the end of November this year and it is important that the community is involved in saying it wants better public transport.

    Thank you for continuing this conversation, it is great to see your interest in public transport and please do let me know if you have any further queries.



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