Tonight’s meeting of the Eastern Transport Coalition included a presentation from John Stone, project officer at GAMUT, the Australian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport.
John spoke about the case for Federal funding of public transport and the need for the Commonwealth to provide such funding in return for operational reforms at a State level. In Victoria such reforms should include the creation of a holistic statutory authority that is responsible for both roads and public transport. This would end the imbalance that exists between VicRoads and the Public Transport Division in the Department of Infrastructure (DOI) by ensuring that all transport projects are assessed equally. Furthermore reforms should include operational measures such as ensuring that buses connect with rail services, so as to provide an integrated transport system that functions as one network.
Requiring such reforms in return for federal funding would ensure that the Commonwealth would receive maximum return for its investment and would prevent waste at a state level. The fact that states such as Western Australia and Queensland have been able to invest in new rail lines after undertaking departmental reform demonstrates that rail extensions can be provided efficiently and economically.
Issues such as congestion and greenhouse emissions, are a national issue and it therefore requires a nationwide response through federal investment in urban public transport infrastructure. Federal involvement would not shift blame from State to Federal Governments but would instead provide accountability and ensure that State Governments would honour their commitments.
The Eastern Transport Coalition will be preparing a discussion paper to advance the campaign for federal involvement in urban public transport.