The Age: Crossing work off target

Amid a State Budget that was simply a disappointment for Melbourne’s public transport system, The Age has reported on the government’s continuation inability to meet its own performance targets:

THE State Government will not achieve its target of improving 38 level crossings across the state, saying works are hampered by a skills shortage.

Budget papers released yesterday revealed VicTrack aimed to improve 38 level crossings in 2005-06, but work will be finished on only 20.

The State Government appears unable to manage Melbourne’s public transport system due to a continuous record and cost blowouts and project delays.

PTUA spokesman Alex Makin said the Government had already failed to meet its “low” targets and yesterday’s budget failed to deliver improvements to public transport. He again called on Mr Batchelor to resign.

State Budget Burdening Suburbs

Unfortunately the recent State Budget like the Transport and Liveability Statement released before it completely failed to provide Melbourne’s outer suburbs with a reliable and readily available public transport system.

In response, the following was issued by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA):

Continue reading “State Budget Burdening Suburbs”

Yarrunga Retirees Group

The Yarrunga Retirees Group is one of the many community groups that operate through the Yarrunga Community Centre which is located in Croydon Hills within Maroondah.

Upon invitation I spoke to the Yarrunga Retirees Group about the need for improved public transport within both Maroondah and Melbourne overall. While areas located close to rail stations are reasonably well served by public transport the government has failed to provide an adequate bus network that will allow convenient travel between neighbouring suburbs.

Unfortunately the Transport and Liveability Statement is unlikely to provide much benefit to the Maroondah community meaning that residents in Maroondah will not be spared the increasing financial hardship caused by rising prices.

Bus services must be fast, frequent, direct and readily available to ensure that Melbourne is provided with services that provide a ready alternative to car travel.

Improvements to public transport are a necessity not a nicety and with both an aging population and rising petrol prices the need to improve public transport should be evident.

For information on the Yarrunga Community Centre please visit

Footmen Club – 30th Anniversary

Tonight marked the 30th anniversary of The Footmen Club, an association of leading business people who provide assistance to individuals facing severe financial hardship. Weg Green, renowned comic provided caricatures of the public.

While Australia is not as strongly regarded for its philanthropic culture as the United States, this does not mean that a culture of providing financial aid from the corporate sector does not exist.  In both countries the distribution of wealth is widening and it is therefore crucial that all sectors of the community provide assistance where they can.

The celebration of 30 years is a proud achievement for a club dedicated to such a noble goal.

Ringwood Chamber of Commerce: Around Our Town

The Ringwood Chamber of Commerce’s Around Our Town event provides an opportunity for the business community to hear about the latest developments within the fields of business and Maroondah.

Tonight’s event focused on the Ringwood Transit City and the potential that Ringwood has to offer for both the business community and for residents. Ringwood is experiencing strong residential and commercial growth and this coupled with the much needed redevelopment of Ringwood Station and other public transport improvements has the potential to transform Ringwood into a truly vibrant and suburb.

The Ringwood Chamber of Commerce provides invaluable support to the business community through facilitating these information sessions.

Ultimately the redevelopment of Ringwood Station is the lynchpin that will strengthen the revitalisation of Ringwood. The upcoming State Budget to be presented on Tuesday the 30th of May must include funding for Ringwood Station for the redevelopment to occur by 2008.

The Ringwood and broader Maroondah community have been waiting far too long for the redevelopment of Ringwood Station, it is time for the State Government to act and provide the necessary funding for the redevelopment to occur.

For further information on the Ringwood Chamber of Commerce please visit

Maroondah Journal: Transport plan 'not enough'

The Maroondah Journal has reported on the local effects of the Bracks government’s recently released Transport and Liveability Statement:

While eastern suburbs’ Labor MPs, transport agencies and the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) applauded the strategy, Public Transport Users Association spokesman Alex Makin criticised it.

While initiatives such as minimum service standards for bus routes will potentially assist in reducing social isolation (a key concern of VCOSS), the minimum standards only require an hourly service until 9pm, meaning that the services are largely inadequate to shift people car drivers and onto public transport.

The need to provide minimum standards that offer a higher level of service frequency was identified by the Bus Association of Victoria (BAV) which called for a minimum of at least 30 minute intervals. The PTUA also called for a higher standard through requesting the introduction of 15 minute service frequencies for all main bus routes. Unfortunately the State Government ignored these requests, despite the fact that the government’s own research identified that a 15 minute service frequency was the minimum required before modal shift (ie shifting car drivers onto public transport) would occur.

“Unless you live next door to a train station or a [new] orbital bus route, you are likely to miss out on any tangible benefits,” he said.

Ultimately it was the failure to benchmark progress against the goal of realising 20% public transport modal share by the 2020 which resulted in the Statement’s inability to provide a fast, frequent and readily available bus network. It is due to this failure that the PTUA called for the resignation of Transport Minister Peter Batchelor.

Calling for Transport Minister Peter Batchelor’s resignation, Mr Makin said the Government had failed to provide the east with the 15 minute frequency bus services required to lure motorists onto public transport.

“This statement seems to be geared towards providing span above substance”

The Bracks Government has failed Melbourne both now and into the future, if the content of the Transport and Liveability Statement is not revised. The Statement as it currently stands fails to provide two thirds of Melbourne with a viable alternative to rising petrol prices, car dependence and worsening traffic congestion.

After six years of constant rhetoric this Transport and Liveability Statement must be condemned for being little more than media spin.

Youth Volunteer Recognition Evening

Tonight I attended Maroondah’s youth volunteer recognition evening. Maroondah’s youth volunteer recognition evening is a key event within national Volunteer Week and was created to acknowledge the many young people that volunteer their time to causes and activities within Maroondah. Held in EV’s, Maroondah’s youth centre, the presentation evening paid tribute to the hard work that these young volunteers have continued to provide.

Volunteers are invaluable to our community and it is great to have such opportunities to recognise the importance and value of volunteers. All nominees must be congratulated for their continued efforts.

Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) Meeting – Presentation by Peter Batchelor

Tonight’s Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) meeting featured a presentation by the current Minister for Transport Peter Batchelor in regard to the Transport and Liveability Statement.

While bus services are receiving much needed funding, the government’s minimum service standard are sorely inadequate.  Likewise the failure for the government to provide much needed infrastructure investment in new rail and tram extensions has demonstrated that the State Government and its current Transport Minister lack the foresight and vision necessary to realise the goal of increasing public transport modal share to 20% by the year 2020.

The State Government must realise that the eastern suburbs and Melbourne overall requires more than just ‘business as usual’ as petrol prices continue to diminish the income of suburban residents.

Meeting Our Transport Challenges – The Media Verdict

News of the government’s transport and liveability statement featured in both the Herald-Sun and The Age with both papers focused on the poor response the statement had received: Herald-Sun:

THE Bracks Government’s election-year transport statement has been met with both praise and disappointment. Winners such as Connex, Metlink and the Bus Association of Victoria were among the grinners. But the major motoring body was unhappy that the transport statement fell short on roads. And commuter and green groups slammed the Government for not going far enough on public transport.

The negative response was due to the fact that The Transport and Liveability Statement delivered media spin above any real substance:

The Public Transport Users’ Association said that despite an extension of bus services, many Melburnians would still be in transport black holes. “This statement is just the latest of a continuing saga of plans that have simply been regurgitated to provide endless re-announcements with very few tangible improvements,” spokesman Alex Makin said.

The failure of the Statement to provide tangible improvements to public transport has demonstrated that despite the continued rhetoric the government is unable to integrate planning and transport needs.

“The failure of this statement to radically boost the frequency of bus services and to immediately implement much-needed rail extensions is a result of the failure to create an efficient planning and public transport authority. “This statement was the last opportunity to give credibility to Peter Batchelor and the Bracks Government.”

The Age provided further details:

THE State Government’s 25-year transport blueprint has met with a mixed response, with public transport and road lobbies declaring it too little too late, but others warmly welcoming it.In one of its most important pre-election showpieces, the Government outlined a $10.5 billion package that touched on the full range of transport modes, from adding lanes to freeways to fixing up local bike paths. But so disappointed was the Public Transport Users Association that it called for Mr Batchelor’s resignation.

The Government has unfortunately failed to deliver any tangible improvements to public transport to make it competitive with car travel. After almost seven years, the Bracks Government should have already begun implementing its vision for public transport. Unfortunately the Govenrment has simply failed to implement a cohesive and integrated vision despite the fact that increasing petrol prices are placing a severe financial strain on households.

“This statement was the last opportunity to give credibility to Peter Batchelor and the Bracks Government,” said spokesman Alex Makin. “Peter Batchelor has botched his portfolio and must now resign so the Government can start afresh.”

While the decision to call for Peter Batchelor’s resignation was not taken lightly it is imperative that the government realises that it must deliver a plan that will provide an alternative to car dependence.

Both Labor and the Opposition agree that transport is a high-order issue in an election for the first time in decades.

With the State Election to occur in November this year it is imperative that both the Baillieu Liberal Opposition and the Bracks ALP government deliver a platform to will provide tangible public transport improvements and not continued hype and broken promises.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said Victorians had again been let down by the Government. “They’ve been waiting for seven years, suffering traffic jams, suffering transport delays which are only getting worse, and now they find that the best this Government can offer them is another five years before a major project kicks in,” he said.

The Age succinctly surmised the failure of the Statement by comparing it to the State Government’s goal of increasing public transport modal share to 20% by the year 2020:

In assessing it, let’s use the Government’s benchmark: getting Melburnians out of cars and onto public transport. Labor’s aim in 2002 was that by 2020, 20 per cent of all motorised trips would be by public transport. The figure then was about 9 per cent and has increased a little since. Effectively the Liveability statement is the belated action plan to achieve this goal.

With the State Government failing to provide much needed rail extensions to South Morang, Rowville and Doncaster and a failure to provide at least fifteen minute bus services it is clear that the Government has no intent to fulfil its own goal.

Little surprise then, that the 20/20/20 goal is mentioned once, only in passing, in this long-awaited statement supposedly dedicated to it.

Is the Government really Meeting Our Transport Challenges?

The State Government has finally released the much anticipated and over hyped Transport and Liveability Statement. Dubbed Meeting Our Transport Challenges the statement ultimately fails to live up to its name.

While the statement claims to contain a 10 year blueprint for Melbourne’s transport needs and includes an outlook for 25 years it fails on a number of accounts:

  • Failure to provide for the timely construction of the long overdue and previously promised South Morang rail extension through making Melbourne wait until at least 2016 for this much needed extension. This means the South Morang and Whittlesea community will have been kept waiting for at least 17 years after the initial promise was made in 1999 to build the rail extension;
  • Failure to demonstrate the integration between transport and planning through the immediate construction of new rail stations at Lynbrook/Lyndhurst (Cranbourne line), Point Cook (Werribee line) and Lakeside (Pakenham line). Rapid growth is being experienced at these residential estates and yet residents will be waiting until 2012 for the construction of these stations.
  • Failure to account for rail electrifications to Baxter (on the Frankston line), Sunbury and Melton at any stage within the next 25 years. This is despite the fact that urbanisation has already exceeded many parts of the suburban rail network;
  • Failure to plan and construct any tram extensions within the next 25 years, including the much needed tram extension of route 48 along Doncaster Road to Doncaster Shoppingtown and the previously promised tram extension to Knox City;
  • Failure to facilitate an aggressive and much needed rollout of fast, frequent and readily available bus services across all of Melbourne’s main roads;
  • Failure to envisage the previously promised Rowville rail line and the Doncaster rail line within the next 25 years.

While the Statement does include a timeframe for previously the announced four orbital bus routes it anticipates an extremely long and excessive 10 year implementation timeframe.

Likewise while minimum standards for bus services are to be introduced the services will only be required to provide a minimum one hour frequency meaning the services will remain uncompetitive with car travel.

While some components of the statement are to be welcomed such as the introduction of later night train and tram services on a Friday and Saturday night (with buses being once again neglected) and the introduction of a new coordinating authority, known as the Coordinator-General, the government ultimately failed to meet our transport challenges.

Meeting Our Transport Challenges will simply continue to condemn the two thirds of Melbourne that lacks access to the rail network to continued car dependence resulting increasing financial hardship due to rising petrol prices and worsening traffic congestion.

With the display of such a poor vision for Melbourne’s future it is perhaps little wonder the government has silently dropped its goal of 20% public transport modal share by 2020.