Bus Service Rests in Government Hands

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The State Government has constantly claimed that its top priority for public transport was upgrading service levels on the bus network.There is basis behind this rationale, after all the average bus service finishes at 6:58 pm while train and tram services operate through to midnight and only 18% of Melbourne's buses operate on Sundays.As such the last thing you would expect is the government to refuse funding two existing and successful weekend bus services, but this is exactly what the government has decided to do.While the funding of public transport is clearly a state government responsibility the City of Greater Dandenong has for the past eighteen months operated two weekend bus services. The State Government has however in an utter display of hypocrisy refused to takeover the funding of these two services thus denying people in Melbourne’s Sunday and Saturday evening travel.Continue reading this entry to view the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) media release condemning the insincerity shown by the State Government towards Melbourne’s southeast.

Media Release – Tuesday, 10 January 2006
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Bus Service Rests in Government Hands

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has accused the State Government of hypocrisy in denying evening and Sunday bus services for Dandenong and Springvale.

“The City of Greater Dandenong is to be applauded for funding bus services in the face of continued inaction from the State Government”, PTUA spokesman Alex Makin said. “The council clearly saw that its residents were being neglected and funded these services to provide people with the basic right of mobility.”

While the funding of public transport is a State Government responsibility, the City of Greater Dandenong, in a first for Melbourne’s east, voted in 2004 to fund two integrated public transport bus services to ensure evening and weekend bus services in areas that had previously lacked such coverage. There was a clear expectation at the time that the State Government would fund the services after an initial trial period.

“The ultimate goal should be the seamless transition from council to State government funding, as such it may be necessary for the council to fund the services until June. This will ensure that there are no excuses from the State Government in providing funding within the next budgetary cycle”, Mr. Makin said.

The City of Greater Dandenong found that 18,000 trips had been made since the service started in December 2004 with an average of 330 passengers each weekend. 11% of households within the City of Greater Dandenong do not have access to a car, a higher percentage than the Melbourne wide average of 9%.

The State Government, despite its aim to increase public transport modal share to 20% by the year 2020 and its continued acknowledgement over the need to improve Melbourne’s bus network, has currently refused to fund the services. John Pandazopoulos, Member for Dandenong stated that it would be ‘pretty silly’ for the government to fund these extended services.

“The Minister for Transport must commit funding from June through the upcoming budget. A failure for the State Government to fund these services will demonstrate a complete hypocrisy and a lack of regard for Melbourne’s southeast. Greater Dandenong Council has demonstrated that public transport works, the State Government must now deliver upon its own rhetoric and fund weekend and evening services”, Mr. Makin concluded.

About the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA):
Founded in 1976, the PTUA is the recognised consumer organisation representing passengers of public transport. The PTUA is a non-profit, voluntary organisation with no political affiliation, which lobbies governments and public transport authorities in the interest of all users of public transport.

ALL MEDIA COMMENTS: ALEX MAKIN ON 0409 136 213
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