Maroondah City Council through the Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) is an associate member of the Metropolitan Transport Forum, which like the ETC is an advocacy group comprising of metropolitan local governments.
The Metropolitan Transport Forum meets on a monthly basis and typically includes a presentation focused on a specific transport related issue. The August meeting included a presentation and report by Dr. Rolf Bergmaier who investigated the current institutional arrangements in regard to transport and planning.
Dr. Rolf Bergmaier’s report found that the current bureaucratic structure is skewed heavily in favour to VicRoads, which as a statutory authority is able to speak publicly on government policy and includes its own budgetary allocation. In contrast to the Public Transport Division of the Department of Infrastructure Dr. Bergmaier found that the additional layers of bureaucracy faced by the Public Transport Division made it difficult to directly interact with the Minister for Transport or to conduct sufficient public consultation.
As has been evidenced throughout the last seven years the current flawed arrangements are costly and can prevent the achievement of outcomes acceptable to the community. This is evident through the cost blowouts and project delays experienced on public transport related projects such as the Craigieburn rail extension and the Knox tram extension and the producing of flawed plans for the grade separation of Middleborough Road.
The streamlining of Victoria’s current institutional arrangements to provide an integrated transport authority where roads and public transport are assessed on equal merits and from budgetary allocation is not a new concept. The Premier’s hand picked Infrastructure Planning Council made this very same recommendation back in 2002 and likewise the draft congestion inquiry report compiled by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) has also identified the need for reform.
The Bracks Government needs to follow the lead of their Western Australian counterparts and create an integrated transport and planning authority. This approach which resulted in a combined transport budget has seen renewed expansion of the rail network, a redesign of the bus network to ensure operational and service efficiencies and the integration of land use planning to maximise the potential for sustainable transport.
As has been seen over the past seven years the economic and social costs of mismanagement and waste can have a crippling effect on the provision of infrastructure and service delivery resulting in costly and inferior outcomes for the community.
In 2002 the Bracks Government ignored this advice and as a result has presided over the mismanagement of a myriad of public transport related projects. It would be absolute folly for the Government to once again ignore this advice.