Wyndham Council to Government : Let Us Do Your Job

Both the Herald Sun and the MX have today reported that Wyndham City Council, (in Melbourne’s outer west) has formed an internal working group to undertake a scoping study for the Wyndham City Council to construct, own and operate its own tramway system.

This demonstrates that an ever increasing number of councils throughout all of Metropolitan Melbourne are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of action from the State Government in delivering tangible public transport service improvements.

Most pertinent is Wyndham Council’s strongly worded language used in their scoping study report:

The State Government has identified a desire to achieve 20 per cent of all trips in Melbourne to be undertaken on public transport by the year 2020. It is clear from the budget initiatives over the past several years that there is no intent within the State Government to provide any serious investment in public transport infrastructure within Melbourne and certainly very little within Wyndham.

The City of Wyndham has joined a growing list of organisations, such as the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), Save Our Suburbs (SOS) and council bodies such as the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) and Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF) which are becoming increasingly dissatisfied and frustrated over State Government inaction in substantially improving public transport.

This is expressed in the Wyndham City Report which introduced the scoping study:

If the City of Wyndham is not to be left bereft of a reasonable public transport system, such as the tram system proposed here, it is clear that the residents of Wyndham must plan, implement and operate such a system themselves.

(Source: http://www.wyndham.vic.gov.au/gui/files/tramreport.pdf)

While strongly worded statements from Councillors or indeed any politician is nothing new – it is new to find these statements within an official council adopted report.

The Cities of Hume and Knox have conducted public transport feasibility studies. The City of Greater Dandenong funds its own metcard operated bus services and the Shire of Yarra Ranges recently conducted a public advocacy campaign for improved bus services. Now Wyndham is looking at funding and constructing its own tram network.

The response from the State Government has made it clear that they have no action plan of their own:

“We wouldn’t have a problem with that at all and the Government would want to work with the council to get the best possible outcome for the community,” [Kate Leonard, spokesperson for Transport Minister Peter Batchelor]

Instead we hear the same often repeated quote: ‘transport would improve as the Metropolitan Transport Plan, released late last year, meant a better bus system was on its way.’

Empty promises about improving bus services are all well and good, but when will the State Government finally provide action to support its policy commitment of improving and increasing public transport usage?

Werribee, located within Wyndham, is, like Ringwood, a nominated Transit City. One of the aims of the Transit Cities program is to encourage public transport usage – yet this will not be possible unless the State Government urgently funds much needed public transport service improvements.

Outer East PTUA Branch Meeting – Ensuring Mobility

Perhaps unsurprisingly the issue of rising oil prices dominated this month’s PTUA East and Outer East Branch Meeting. It is clear that rising oil prices are eroding disposable income resulting in serious repercussions for the future economic viability of Melbourne and the Outer East.

Research from the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) has shown that better access to public transport would provide residents with the income necessary to pay off their housing mortgages up to eight years earlier. Excessive car dependence is clearly trapping residents into a greater level of financial instability.

Lower levels of disposable income are also detrimental to businesses, particularly smaller and localised businesses. It is a fact that as disposable income decreases there is less income available for people to spend on other goods or services. Less consumer consumption will result in lower profit margins for business.

The oil shocks and resulting recessions of the late seventies and early eighties are testament to the economic damage that is caused by skyrocketing oil prices. The difference now of course is that growth from China and India is fuelling these increases and that supply is unable to be increased to meet this unprecedented demand.

Various ‘solutions’ have been provided to reduce the price of petrol, yet the RACV has failed to understand that the removal of taxation on petrol will do little to stop the adverse affects of further pricing increases.

The fact is that the only way to avoid the adverse effects of petrol price increases is to reduce the current level of excessive car dependency that currently exists in Melbourne and particular within our outer suburbs.

Maroondah Leader: Group mad over axing three key bus routes

The Minister for Transport, Peter Batchelor, has continued to persist with his ill-advised refusal to include bus services along Maroondah Highway, Canterbury Road and Wonga Road as part of the Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN).

The Maroondah Leader has pursued this issue:

A TRANSPORT lobby group has lashed out at the Transport Minister for not including three key bus routes within a network earmarked for improvements.

The Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN) is a key part of Melbourne 2030 and essentially outlines which bus services will be upgraded with longer operating hours and service frequencies.

Silvan Province state Liberal MP Andrew Olexander tabled a report in parliament recently asking Transport Minister Peter Batchelor to include three key bus routes within the Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN).

Mr Batchelor rejected the appeal. His spokeswoman, Kate Leonard, said it was “not appropriate” to include the routes “as they do not provide direct links between activity centres”.

It is absolutely false to claim that bus routes along Maroondah Highway (route 670 Ringwood to Lilydale via Croydon and Chirnside Park), Canterbury Rd (route 679 Ringwood to Chirnside Park via Heathmont and Lilydale) and Wonga Rd (route 364 Ringwood to Doncaster East via Ringwood North and Warrandyte) do not provide direct links between activities. All three bus routes operate in a direct manner connecting Ringwood with surrounding activity centres, such as Croydon, Chirnside, Lilydale and Doncaster.

Ringwood Transit City Community Coalition spokesman Alex Makin said all bus routes served major roads within Maroondah and connected a number of activity centres.

Unfortunately it is becoming clear that the incompetence of the ill-advised Transport Minister, Peter Batchelor is jeopardising Maroondah and the goal of increasing public transport modal share.

“Given that Maroondah Highway, Canterbury and Wonga roads are key thoroughfares into and out of Ringwood, it is becoming increasingly doubtful that the vision of the Ringwood Transit City or even Croydon as an activity centre will be achieved,” Mr Makin said.

Ministerial Ignorance Terminates Transit City

Media Release – Monday, 1 August 2005

Ministerial Ignorance Terminates Transit City

The Minister for Transport has openly admitted to the continued public transport neglect within Maroondah through mistakenly classifying the Ringwood Transit City as a ‘low density and dispersed residential area’.

“It is a dire insult to our community that Peter Batchelor, the Minister for Transport, has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for this mistake and has instead relied on contradictory statements in a poor attempt to explain why three key bus routes in Maroondah were excluded from the Principal Public Transport Network”, Ringwood Transit City Community Coalition (RTCCC) Spokesman Alex Makin said. “The outright refusal to correct this oversight means that Maroondah residents, such as the retirees of Cherry Tree Retirement Village will remain socially isolated due to a lack of Sunday and evening bus services”.

On the 6th of October 2004, Andrew Olexander, Member for Silvan Province, in discussion with the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) Outer East Branch requested the inclusion of three additional bus routes within the Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN). The chosen bus routes included services along Maroondah Highway (route 670 – Ringwood, Croydon, Chirnside Park and Lilydale), Canterbury Road (route 679 – Ringwood, Lilydale via Kilysth and Heathmont) and Wonga Road (route 364, Ringwood to Doncaster East via Ringwood North and Warrandyte). All bus routes serve major roads within Maroondah and connect a number of activity centres. The PPTN includes bus routes that will receive service upgrades as part of Melbourne 2030.

“Peter Batchelor’s excuse to exclude these vital bus services ranges from comical at best or simply deceitful and tragically ill-informed at worst, Mr. Makin said. “The claim that these three bus routes ‘do not provide direct links between activity centres’, is simply false. Route 670 for example, connects the activity centres of Ringwood, Croydon, Chirnside Park and Lilydale and runs along Maroondah Highway for its entire duration, despite ill-informed claims to contrary.”

“It is abhorrent to deny the key thoroughfares connecting Ringwood, such as Maroondah Highway with fast, frequent and readily available bus services particularly while there are plans to increase the population densities within Ringwood and Croydon. Higher densities will be severely detrimental to Maroondah if public transport services are not increased. The very notion of Ringwood as a Transit City is close to being terminated due to the ignorance of Peter Batchelor”, Mr. Makin concluded.