With the success of the Eastern Transport Coalition’s recent public transport summit and State Government announcing that it will release a new transport plan in November of this year, it was timely to review the group’s mission statement and objectives to reflect the growing need for public transport improvements.

The ETC’s mission statement has been revised to reflect the importance of accessibility, as well as the need for an integrated public transport system that will improve the liveability of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. The mission now reads as follows:

The Eastern Transport Coalition will advocate for integrated and accessible sustainable transport in the Eastern region of Melbourne to improve liveability and reduce car dependency.

This mission statement will ensure that that the ETC will remain a strong advocate for public transport improvements within its member councils.

Tonight’s meeting also included a presentation from the Bus Association of Victoria to provide some input into the impending bus service reviews for Maroondah, Knox and the Yarra Ranges. It is unsurprising that bus routes that have received improvements, such as frequent services and longer operating spans, have seen patronage increases, especially the Ringwood to Frankston SmartBus which has seen almost a 60% increase in patronage.

The success of the Ringwood to Frankston SmartBus, as well as other SmartBus routes demonstrates that people will use bus services when they are fast, frequent, direct and readily available. The State Government must therefore respond by accelerating its implementation of the SmartBus program so that the orbital network is completed by the end of 2010, rather than the original completion date of 2015. This would assist in providing transport choice for residents that live beyond the reaches of the rail network.

Likewise local routes need further improvements with the the State Government’s minimum service standard of hourly frequencies being inadequate. These routes should be provided with a half-hourly frequency, which would enable better connections with the rail network and other bus services.

The bus network across Melbourne’s eastern suburbs requires substantial improvements and the State Government must use the bus service review process to deliver bus services that provide transport choice for Melbourne’s outer east.

I have stressed to my council colleagues the importance of engaging the community over the bus service reviews. Council will be hosting its own forum to discuss bus improvements once the State Government releases its timeframe for the service reviews. This will ensure that council is providing feedback that is consistent with the views of our community.

We must continue making a difference to secure public transport improvements within Maroondah and Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

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: alex@alexmakin.com.au