This morning I was discussing the State Budget with Red Symons on ABC 774. From a public transport perspective the state budget was an improvement over previous budgets. The purchase of ten additional six carriage trains was a measure the PTUA was calling for and it is pleasing that this will proceed.
The additional trains, which are expected in 2009, will alleviate the chronic overcrowding that is occurring on Melbourne’s train network. Bus improvements are also progressing including the long awaited Stud Road SmartBus which is now expected in 2008.
Unfortunately, despite rising patronage, the State Budget was generally underwhelming with very little provided above the lacklustre projects identified in Meeting Our Transport Challenges, released in May last year. The newly appointed Minister for Public Transport, Lynne Kosky, has so far failed to provide a new vision for the public transport portfolio meaning that most of Melbourne is still without frequent, reliable and readily available public transport.
The Minister now has twelve months to prepare a new vision for Melbourne’s public transport system and to reverse the neglect the portfolio suffered under her predecessor.