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.