The Age: Labor's train plan 'on the wrong track'

One of the key tenets of Meeting Our Transport Challenges (MOTC), the State Government’s plan for Melbourne’s public transport system, was the construction of a third track between Caulfield and Dandenong. This project alone is expected to cost up to one billion dollars and will take a decade to complete delaying many other public transport projects.

Unfortunately the State Government has failed to examine simpler methods, such as a streamlined timetable and more efficient operations, which could be implemented in as little as six to twelve months.

Melbourne University transport expert Paul Mees said 11,000 people travelled to the city in the morning peak each weekday and the current number of services meant an average of 524 commuters were carried on each train. Dr Mees, who has prepared his own timetable with a more regular pattern of service, argues that if services were spread out across the peak, every passenger using the line would have a seat. It would also allow room for new suburban and V/Line services.

A consistent stopping pattern consisting of two train configurations, one express and one non-express pattern, as opposed to the current confusing mixture of numerous stopping patterns, would assist both passengers and rail schedulers through allowing a consistent and reliable level of service.

Public Transport Users Association vice-president Alex Makin applauded the idea of a simplified timetable. He said many commuters found the mix of express, part express or stopping-all-station services confusing. A repetitive timetable would allow the network to recover quickly if trains were late.

It is entirely unreasonable to expect Melbourne’s public transport users to wait up to ten years for a dramatic improvement in services, when far simpler options such as a reconfigured timetable could be considered in a much shorter timeframe and deliver greater benefits.

Maroondah Journal: Footpath strategy on display

Maroondah’s pedestrian strategy has reached draft status and is currently available for public comment. This provides the opportunity for the to comment on the strategy and the need for footpaths and the needs of pedestrians within Maroondah.

The Maroondah Journal has reported on the draft strategy and the strong level of community support for footpath improvements in Maroondah.

Cr Alex Makin said the “strategy allows us [Maroondah] to form a funding mechanism and plug some of the gaps.”

All trips involve a form of walking and a well-developed footpath network is required to help ensure maximum mobility for Maroondah’s residents.

“I urge the community to get behind the strategy. It’s imperative that feedback is received. We need to identify the areas that are of grave concern to the community.”

The Maroondah Pedestrian Strategy is available for comment from the Maroondah City Council website at

MX: Kosky defends buyback

According the MX, the State Government has been forced to repurchase the old Hitachi trains due to dire shortage of train rollingstock.

Buying back second-hand “sweatbox” carriages at more than seven times their sale price was good value for Victorian taxpayers, Transport Minister Lynne Kosky said today.

Defending the State Government’s purchase of two Hitachi trains from rail enthusiasts last year, Kosky said it was a fast and cheap answer to a commuter deluge.

The Minister for Public Transport Lynne Kosky has been forced into this situation due to the incompetent handling of the transport portfolio by Ms. Kosky’s predecessor, Peter Batchelor.

In 2003 the PTUA cautioned the State Government against scrapping the Hitachi fleet and this was reinforced by Government documents that also confirmed a dire shortage of trains. Unfortunately the then Minister unwisely chose to disregard this advice.

Public Transport Users’ Association vice-president Alex Makin said Kosky had reaped what former minister Peter Batchelor had sowed through neglect.

“The State Government needs to bring forward the purchase of new trains,” he said.

Given that the State Government is now in a situation of purchasing old rollingstock it is imperative that the upcoming State Budget includes the purchase of new trains to complement the existing rail fleet.

The timeframe planned by the former Transport Minister, with new trains not expected until 2012, must be brought forward so that the new rollingstock is available as quickly as possible to ensure a reliable rail system.

Anzac Day 2007

Anzac Day is fast approaching and Ringwood and Croydon branches of the Returned Services League (RSL) are set to hold a number of memorial services to remember those lost at war.

Anzac Day commemorations will be held on Wednesday the 25th of March:

Ringwood RSL will hold a Dawn Service at the Ringwood Memorial Clocktower at 5.45am with an Anzac Day breakfast following in the RSL Club Rooms.

Croydon Sub-Branch of the RSL will hold a Dawn Service at the Croydon War Memorial at the intersection of Kent Avenue, Croydon Road and Wicklow Avenue at 5.45am with a breakfast following at the Club Rooms.

Ringwood Spiders Jumper Presentation Evening

The Ringwood Spiders (formerly the Ringwood Blues) are based at Jubilee Park and provides an opportunity for people with an intellectual disability to participate in a football team. The Ringwood Spiders are part of the state-wide Football Integration Development Association (FIDA) league which includes teams from right across Victoria.

Tonight’s jumper presentation evening provided an opportunity to meet the team members and to officially launch the new football season. I wish the Ringwood Spiders the best of luck as they enter another year of football.

Salvation Army Companion Club

This morning I was invited by the Salvation Army Companion Club to speak about my experiences as a Councillor on Maroondah City Council and to discuss the role of Council within the community.

The discussion focused on the plans for Ringwood, the need for public transport improvements and the urgent need to upgrade Ringwood Station. Issues relating to footpaths were also extensively discussed and I will be able to use this input will help shape Maroondah’s pedestrian strategy. The strategy, which is currently in draft status, will provide a framework in regard to footpath maintenance and construction and will help to define Maroondah’s responsibilities in regard to our footpath network.

The Salvation Army Companion Club is a social club for men and women over 50 years old and includes a range of activities and speakers to ensure lively discussion. I would like to thank the members for their hospitality for a very lively discussion around life within Maroondah.

Eastern Transport Coalition – April 2007

Tonight’s Eastern Transport Coalition meeting continued to discuss the need for Federal involvement in urban public transport, as well as measures to continue holding the state government accountable for public transport outcomes in the outer east.

The current focus includes direct lobbying of MPs to ensure that public transport remains high on the state political agenda. With the recently released congestion inquiry demonstrating the ever increasing economic cost of congestion and the growing need to abate rising greenhouse emissions, the impetus for expanding and improving Melbourne’s public transport system has never been greater.

Federal involvement in urban public transport would help ensure that the State Governments deliver upon their commitments for sustainable transport and would ensure a holistic approach to the national problems of congestion, social isolation and greenhouse emissions.

Media Release: Have your say on the environment in Maroondah

Maroondah City Council is inviting the community to have your say about environmental issues at an Environment Forum to be held on the evening of Monday 7 May at the Karralyka Centre.

Councillor Alex Makin said the forum will allow Maroondah residents the opportunity to discuss what is important to them with respect to the environment.

“The forum will look at topics such as water conservation and quality, biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, transport, litter and waste,” said Cr Makin.

“Council is seeking feedback from the community on environmental and sustainability priorities. This forum will allow council to respond to these priorities and assist the community to become more sustainable on an individual basis,” said Cr Makin.

“The information gained from the community will be used in the future direction of Council policy. This is your opportunity to voice issues relating to our urban sustainability that are important to you,” said Cr Makin.

The Environment Forum will take place at the Karralyka Centre, Mines Rd, Ringwood East (Mel Map 50 A6) on Monday 7 May from 7pm to 9.30pm.

For further information, or to register your attendance please call 9298 4360 or email by Monday 30 April.

Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau 39th AGM

Tonight the Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau held its Annual General Meeting to report back to members and to elect a committee for the following twelve months.

The Maroondah Citizens Advise Bureau provides assistance, such as food and advice, for people in need and works extensively with a number of other charitable organisations. The Citizens Advice Bureau provides crucial support for some of Maroondah’s most vulnerable residents.

I was co-opted onto the managing committee during the middle of last year and am pleased to have been elected onto the committee for the next twelve months. The Citizens Advice Bureau like many voluntary organisations is facing challenges in recruiting new volunteers and it is essential that community awareness increases as the Citizens Advice Bureau enters its 40th year.

For more information on the Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau, one of the longest established bureaus in Melbourne, please contact the Ringwood Office on 9870 3233.

Delegates' report: Water conservation and community advocacy

A pressing theme that has emerged over the events I attended in the previous month has been that of the environment and in particular the need for water conservation.

On the 23rd of March I attended the SaveWater Awards, convened by the SaveWater alliance, a non-profit association which includes membership from our water authorities and government agencies. The purpose of the SaveWater Awards, as its name suggests, is to encourage water conservation within government, private enterprise and the wider community and it was great to see many examples of innovation and a strong commitment to conserving water.

In particular the local government category has shown a number of examples that we can follow and Hume City Council must be congratulated for winning the local government category of the awards. Hume City Council is set to save more than 70 mega litres of drinkable water per year through the use of recycled water, water tanks and drought resistance turf. Kingston and Monash City Councils, the two other finalists in the category, have also introduced a number of water saving initiatives and combined the three councils a total 82 mega litres of drinking water is being saved.

This is the equivalent to 33 Olympic sized swimming pools and it demonstrates some of the proactive examples that are occurring in local government. It is also sets a high standard and in fact I would very much like to see Maroondah City Council as a potential finalist for next year’s awards. I will be tabling the Clearwater Awards publication.

Whether someone believes in the notion of climate change is irrelevant, the fact is that long term trends are showing an ever increasing bleak picture for Melbourne’s water supplies and the onus is on us to lead by example.

The good news is that in some areas Maroondah City Council is playing its part, since on the 30th of March I had the pleasure of participating in training session conducted on the use of rainwater gardens hosted at Maroondah’s council offices.

The training session was conducted by Clearwater, a non-profit organisation hosted and supported by Melbourne Water, and covered the potential benefits of using rainwater gardens to improve the quality of stormwater run-off by collecting excess rainwater run-off. What was great about this session is the fact that this is an area where Maroondah is leading by example.

Maroondah has recently installed its own rain garden at the lower carpark in front of Karralyka, due to design of rain gardens, the water runoff nourishes these gardens and also helps improve the quality of stormwater. This is one example of where Maroondah is taking initiative in water conservation.

Being proactive on water conservation and other environmental issues will have the support of the community and it is with community support that we can truly help shape positive change.

The last item I wish to raise is an example of where community support helps further an issue of concern and that is the issue of Maroondah’s stance in seeking a review of current gaming and planning legislation.

The Croydon Conservation Society issued correspondence citing their concern with the current gaming and planning legislation and the powers of VCAT. While the reply received from the Department of Justice does little other than provide excuses it does demonstrate the steps the community and community groups will undertake to assist council in its own efforts.

I will tabling the remainder of my delegates report.