Public Meeting: Help ensure a better station for Laburnum

Tonight on behalf of the Public Transport Users Association I had the opportunity to address the Laburnum community in regard to the grade separation of Middleborough Road.

Laburnum Community Meeting

While grade separations are a good initiative it is unfortunate that the State Government has released for Middleborough Road that are fatally flawed. Over one hundred attendees flocked to this public meeting to voice their concerns over the lack of consultation and secrecy that has surrounded this project. Considering that the State Government promised to deliver the grade separation of Middleborough Road since 2002 it is abysmal that the government has been unwilling to engage the community over the past four years.

Residents of Laburnum are rightfully concerned about plans that diminish access to Laburnum Station and appear to view the concerns of public transport users and local residents as an afterthought. The current proposal will hamper pedestrian access to Laburnum Station and will fail to take into account cycling access. While residents overwhelmingly supported grade separation initiatives there was next to no support for the current Middleborough Road proposal due to the failure to engage the community and address public transport concerns.

A number of resolutions were passed including:

  • That the community supports grade separations but not the current Middleborough Road proposal;
  • That there must not be a net reduction in services to Laburnum Station;
  • That there must be an improvement to the amenity of Laburnum Station;
  • That pedestrian and cycling access to Laburnum Station be improved.

The Laburnum community is right to expect better. The State Government must admit that the process to date has been flawed and must now engage the local community to create a project that meets public expectations. Unfortunately the State Government will continue to deliver poor results until the Bracks Government finally creates an open and accountable transport authority that is charged with meeting the goals of improving public transport usage. After six years of broken promises, cost blow-outs and delayed projects the Bracks Government must surely realise that an overhaul of VicRoads and the Department of Infrastructure is required.

The Laburnum Community must not be expected to embrace flawed designs simply because the Government is unable to provide the expertise and leadership required for such projects.

Maroondah Leader: More work still to be done

The local media plays a critical role through monitoring local and ensuring accountability for residents and ratepayers. It is therefore fitting that the campaign promises made by newly elected councillors are periodically reviewed to ensure that elected representatives are honouring their commitments.

This week the Maroondah Leader reviewed the campaign commitments by the three newly elected councillors:


Promises: Stop the rot and listen to the community.

Results: Cr Makin said he listened to the community when he attended meetings of the Croydon Conservation Society, Maroondah Bushlinks and the Heatherdale Rd Action Group.

Promise: Stop inappropriate development.

Results: The Ringwood Transit City project is the main tool Cr Makin said he would use to halt unsuitable development.

Promise: Strengthen anti-graffiti laws.

Result: Cr Makin said he wanted Maroondah to follow the zero-tolerance stance of the City of Casey, a council that takes it on itself to remove graffiti off all buildings. With the council’s graffiti policy currently being reviewed, Cr Makin said this was the perfect opportunity for his input. He said that after the review was released, he planned to initiate programs to use spray cans in a productive way, like competitions for students or mentor programs.

While I believe I am continuing to honour my election commitments it is imperative to remember as the there is definitely more work to be done.

The Victorian Senior: Transport plan fails to deliver

While offering tokenistic gestures such as free public transport on Sundays for seniors, the State Government’s Transport and Liveability Statement ultimately fails to provide a frequent, reliable and readily available public transport system for the two-thirds of Melbourne that live beyond the rail network.

The Victorian Senior has reported on the failure of the State Government to provide a useable public transport system for Victoria’s senior citizens:

VICTORIAN seniors are being severely disadvantaged by poor transport systems. That’s according to the Public Transport Users’ Association which has condemned the State Government’s $10 billion Transport and Liveability Statement as failing to deliver for current and potential transport users.

The minimum bus service levels to be introduced by the government over the next four years will fail to provide a service level comparable to Melbourne’s train or tram network and hence will fail to provide a level of service that would encourage public transport usage.

Public Transport Users’ Association spokesman Alex Makin said two thirds of all Melburnians lived beyond the train and tram network, and only had the options of buses or taxis if they did not drive.

Mr Makin said older people relied on transport for essential services and shopping for everyday needs. “Elderly pensioners and self-funded retirees who do drive are faced with rising petrol prices, which cut into their available funds for basic living requirements,” he said.

An holistic and comprehensive reform of Melbourne’s bus routes are required to ensure that routes along main roads provide a frequent, direct and readily available service.

Mr Makin said major reform of public transport, in particular bus services, was needed. “We have buses travelling infrequently and along complicated routes,” he said.

“We need to move to a model where frequent bus services along main roads are provided, which link to smaller buses that travel along minor roads. “He accused Transport Minister Peter Batchelor of cherry picking a limited number of bus routes, mostly in marginal seats, for service upgrades.

It is irresponsible for Transport Minister Peter Batchelor to ignore the needs of the community and in particular the needs of Senior Victorians who are struggling under the burden petrol prices and social isolation.

Maroondah Journal: MAV takes a stand on 'unfair' zoning fares

The Maroondah Journal has reported on the latest efforts to abolish the inequities that exist within Melbourne’s public transport zone system, with the Municipal Association of Victoria joining the call for fare reform:

The Municipal Association of Victoria will lobby the Government to abolish zone three fares after representatives voted at a state council meeting last Thursday.

The motion to abolish zone three fares was proposed by Maroondah Council to ensure equity for Melbourne’s outer eastern residents relative to other parts of Melbourne. This inequity is evident through the fact that an annual ticket for zones, two and three costs $1999 compared to $1633 for just zones one and two.

Public Transport Users Association outer-east convenor Alex Makin said zone three ticketing affected outer east residents.

“Residents within the outer metropolitan areas pay the most for transport, [but they] receive the least level of service,” Mr Makin said. It’s time for the government to start listening to peak bodies like the MAV. It’s time to listen to residents and councils.”

Melbourne’s public transport zones are currently inequitable and penalise Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs. With suburbs such as Hurstbridge, which are further out than Ringwood, Dandenong or Lilydale being located in zone two it is clear that there is no logic behind the current zone boundaries other than an attempt to penalise outer eastern residents.

International Cities, Town Centres and Communities (ICTC) Conference

The International Cities, Town Centres and Communities (ICTC) is an annual conference which explores the revitalisation of town centres and main streets. This year’s event was held in Newcastle, a town that has experienced firsthand the revitalisation of its foreshore regions and its central business district.

The development patterns and urban form prevalent since the 1960s is unsustainable and ‘big box’ shopping centres while long regarded as an anchor for suburban retail expenditure are a detriment to creating liveable and vibrant suburbs. Through an urban design movement known as ‘new urbanism’ there is a push to revitalise traditional ‘main street’ shopping districts to provide places for the community to shop, interact and provide a variety of entertainment and commercial possibilities.

A number of cities within the UK and the US are designating central commercial areas as ‘business improvement districts’ allowing the business community to take direct control over the streetscape and the improvement of the commercial retail mix. Within Australia a special rates scheme, such as the scheme provided within Main Street Croydon, provides the implementation of a similar concept.

The equivalent of ‘main street’ within Ringwood is Maroondah Highway, currently a six-lane road which splits Ringwood Station and the commercial and retail precincts into two. Maroondah Highway is its current form is a detriment to revitalising the centre of Ringwood and the State Government must ensure that Maroondah Highway is narrowed to at least four lanes once the Ringwood Bypass is completed. Pedestrians form the lifeblood of any commercial district and pedestrian amenity must be improved to transform Ringwood into a vibrant commercial and retail centre.

Among the topics covered there was a presentation by Ian Robson from the Public Transport Authority in Perth. Ian covered the success that Perth and the Western Australian government has had in achieving urban renewal through genuinely integrating transport with land use planning. The Perth equivalents of Melbourne’s ‘activity centres’, known as Transport Orientated Developments (TOD) provide true integration between the creation of vibrant suburban centres and the provision of improved public transport infrastructure of services. Unlike the increasingly flawed process of Melbourne 2030, the Perth Metropolitan Strategy provided more than just rhetoric but a detailed implementation plan that has seen the establishment of new rail lines and improved bus services.

Community engagement is seen as critical and this was covered in both a local and statewide context. Thorough and genuine community engagement is required to ensure the development of plans that are acceptable and beneficial for the wider community and this ongoing engagement must be strengthened as we strive towards creating sustainable development.

ICTC demonstrated that the return to pedestrian friendly vibrant centres is not only desirable but also possible if leadership is provided by relevant the governments and their agencies. The opportunity to transform Ringwood must not be lost.

For further details on the International Cities, Town Centres and Communities (ICTC) Society or on the conference please visit

Maroondah Journal: transport group slams measures

Despite the rhetoric from the State Government, the recently released State Budget has failed to provide the required improvements to Melbourne’s public transport system. In this regard the Maroondah Journal has reported on the Public Transport Users Association’s (PTUA) response to the State Budget:

Maroondah residents will get no benefit from the additional public transport funding announced in the state budget, the Public Transport Users Association says. The group has again called for Transport Minister Peter to resign, saying the budget fails to deliver for public transport users.

The State Budget papers have clearly shown that the State Government is failing to advance towards its own target of increasing public transport modal share to 20% by the year 2020. In fact despite rising petrol prices public transport modal share has slid backwards from 9% to 8% due to the fact that two-thirds of Melbourne is not provided with fast, frequent and readily available public transport.

PTUA spokesman and Maroondah councillor Alex Makin said the limited upgrades would not entice people onto public transport. “After all the fanfare, the Government’s transport statement and budget have failed to deliver. Commuters will have to wait several years before most of the upgrades implemented, and meanwhile must endure ongoing delays, cancellations and crowding.”

The State Government had the opportunity to radically improve Melbourne’s bus network within the recent State Budget. Unfortunately however Transport Minister Peter Batchelor squandered this opportunity by simply selecting a very limited number of bus routes situated mostly within marginal seats for service upgrades.

He said Mr Batchelor has “cherrypicked” a limited number of bus routes from marginal seats, while neglecting the rest of Melbourne.

After six years of government and six years of Peter Batchelor as the Minister for Transport, Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs deserve action and not just continued tokenistic gestures. The Bracks Government must start afresh and appoint a Transport Minister that is capable and delivering genuine and comprehensive public transport improvements.

Maroondah Leader: $2.7m to kickstart project

The Maroondah Leader has reported on the recent State Budget announcement regarding the continuation of design options for the redevelopment of Ringwood Station.

RINGWOOD’S long-awaited railway station redevelopment moved a step closer with $2.7 million funding for preliminary work announced in the State Budget.

The $2.7 million includes funding for the following:

  • $1.5 million for detailed design work for the station redevelopment;
  • $300,000 for a traffic and transport study;
  • $200,000 for VicUrban (the designated project managers);
  • $600,000 for improvements to Maroondah Highway which will include the implementation of a new signage strategy.

Progress towards the redevelopment of Ringwood Station is most definitely welcome, it is imperative however that bus service levels are also improved to ensure an integrated approach to enhancing public transport within Maroondah.

Public Transport Users Association spokesman Alex Makin said the Ringwood station funding was welcome but Transport Minister Peter Batchelor appeared to have “cherry-picked a very limited number of bus routes mostly in marginal seats for service upgrades while neglecting most of Melbourne”.

Unfortunately most of the designated 25 bus routes to receive service level upgrades appear to been chosen to benefit marginal ALP seats while mos of Melbourne including Maroondah continues to remains neglected.

Southern Rocycling

The contest mention for Universal Metals (trading as Southern Rocycling) was heard at Ringwood Magistrate’s Court today where Southern Rocycling pleaded not guilty.

This means that since Southern Rocycling pleaded not guilty, a trial will proceed on Thursday the 7th and Friday the 8th of September. Maroondah City Council is proceeding with vigour to ensure that the concerns of residents are well represented.

MX: Tax relief ticket cuts in sight for commuters

Melbourne’s MX newspaper has reported on the latest efforts to provide much needed taxation incentives for public transport users.

Australia’s top transport brass voted unanimously at the weekend for an inquiry into tax breaks for train, tram and bus passengers.

If approved, monthly and yearly tickets could be eligible as tax deductions.

Taxation reform is required to ensure that commuters who use public transport are provided with similar taxation incentives to commuters that drive cars. The current inequitable arrangements strongly disadvantage public transport commuters.

Public Transport Users Association spokesman Alex Makin welcomed the idea, but said disincentives for motorists were needed as well as commuter incentives.

“Fringe benefits tax provides an incentive to use your car for as much mileage as possible, and that obviously hampers efforts to encourage public transport users,” he said.

Given the unanimous backing from the participants within the Australian Transport Council it is crucial that the Federal Government legislate to ensure taxation equity between car drivers and public transport commuters.

Rowville End Of Suburbia Screening

Rowville located within Melbourne’s outer east has a history of being long neglected in regard to the provision of public transport. Despite Rowville’s current situation as a public transport wasteland historically this was not supposed to be the case with plans for the construction of the Rowville rail line first proposed in 1969 via an extension from either Glen Waverley or Huntingdale.

While the John Cain government sold the reservation beyond the Glen Waverley line, the reservation to Rowville via Huntingdale still exists within the Wellington Road median.

In 1999 the then Bracks Opposition promised as part of its commitment to the outer east to “address the fixed infrastructure requirements for the region and in particular identify a preferred train route to Rowville via Glen Waverley or Huntingdale” (Rebuilding a Transport Network, Labor’s Plan, 1999). Six years later the Bracks Government has still failed to deliver a feasibility study into the Rowville rail line.

Due to continued inaction from the State Government Knox City Council conducted a pre-feasibility study into the Rowville rail line in 2004. The study found that the line was feasible and could be constructed from Huntingdale with very little land acquisition.

This Sunday the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), Environment Victoria (EV) and Knox Environment Society (KES) held a free screening of the documentary the End of Suburbia which explores the consequences of a limited oil supply which is resulting in rising petrol prices and the corresponding financial hardship on suburban life.

Rowville End of Suburbia Screening - Audience and facilitators

With just under 100 people in attendance it is clear that the Rowville community is demanding better public transport to alleviate car dependence and social isolation.

The State Government must not continue to bury its head in the sand and ignore the needs of outer metropolitan Melbourne.

It is time to deliver real results and substantial public transport improvements to Melbourne’s outer suburbs.