Maroondah Leader: Half-hearted trips

While there was a definite need for the Department of Transport to undertaken a review of bus services across metropolitan Melbourne, some of the resulting changes have not provided better services.

The Maroondah Leader has reported on changes to bus route 364, which was altered to terminate at Warrandyte Bridge instead of Doncaster Shoppingtown.

Cr Alex Makin said Warranwood and Ringwood North residents were worse
off and that he would raise the issue at the next Eastern Transport
Coalition meeting.

This means that there is no longer a seamless service for Ringwood North or Warranwood residents to get to destinations like Doncaster Shoppingtown making public transport less efficient and more difficult to use.

The review undertaken for bus services need to provide service improvements, specifically more frequent services that connect destinations. Overall implementation of the review has been poor and the new State Government needs to ensure that resources are allocated to provide improvements to bus services.

Eastern Transport Coalition – State Candidates Forum at Maroondah

The Eastern Transport Coalition is a council initiated advocacy group, covering Melbourne’s seven outer eastern Councils; Greater Dandenong, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash Whitehorse and the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

As part of its advocacy campaign, the Eastern Transport Coalition is holding a series of candidate forums, throughout each of the member councils. The evening was attended by representatives of each of the three major parties, the Australian Labor Party, the Victorian Liberal Party and the Victorian Greens.

I provided the introduction to tonight’s forum to highlight the current public transport deficiencies within Maroondah. The speech is available within this entry:

Welcome candidates and the community to the Maroondah City Council Eastern Transport Coalition Public Transport Forum.

Maroondah City Council, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledges that we are meeting on the land for which the Wurundjeri people have been custodians for many centuries, and on Land which the indigenous Australians have performed age old ceremonies.

We are fortunate tonight to have secured Mr Clay Lucas as our independent moderator. Clay may be well known to some of you as he is part of The Age’s city team having worked The Age and The Sunday Age since 2005 as a city reporter. This role sees Clay reporting on a range of topics across the transport sector, including roads, public transport, planning and development. In 2009 Clay won a Quill for transport reporting with Age investigative reporter Royce Millar.

Before I hand over to Clay to get the evening underway I just want to provide a quick overview of the public transport issues that Maroondah sees as important to the community and help set the context of public transport in the east.

Regional Perspective

The eastern region is an established area experiencing significant economic and population growth.
This growth is mainly occurring through infill and consolidation of existing residential, commercial and employment areas.

The network is struggling to keep up with demand and provide services that the community require to carry out their day to day activities as viable alternatives to the motor vehicle.

The Victorian Transport Plan – Does not deliver for the east

To keep pace with the population and economic growth the current public transport system needs to expand.

The Victorian Transport Plan does not adequately consider or respond to the needs of the East and greater investment is still required, if the eastern suburbs are to continue to be liveable and met the State’s land use and transport plans as outlined in Melbourne @ 5 million.

The high household car ownership in the City of Maroondah is evidence of the public transport systems inability to provide a service that allows our community to undertake their daily activities. The ETC and Maroondah City Council call on the government for the development of a long term regional public transport strategy for the Eastern region.

Ringwood Station Upgrade

Ringwood is identified as one of six Central Activity Districts which will offer CBD type services in suburban locations. In recent MTF public survey, Ringwood Station was voted as Melbourne’s second worse station, after Richmond.

The current Ringwood Station is difficult to access with steep ramps to station platforms that fail the State Government’s Disability Discrimination Act requirements.

The footpath access from each side of the station is not safe, particularly for people in wheel chairs and there is not direct wheel chair access to the car park which is located at the bottom of a steep stairway.
There has been no significant upgrade to the station in more than 50 years and it is desperately needing to be modernised.

For Ringwood Station to be truly accessible to all and permit convenient transferring between transport services, it is imperative that it is clean, comfortable, accessible and safe and secure.

Triplication for the Belgrave/Lilydale line

As Central Melbourne will continue to be a major location for employment, the arts, culture, sport and leisure, central Melbourne should be conveniently accessible by public transport for all Melbournians.
The demand on the Belgrave/Lilydale lines, with approximately 93,000 daily boardings, make these lines one of Melbourne’s most highly patronised rail corridors.

The patronage of both lines is reaching capacity with overcrowding a regular passenger experience. To facilitate more efficient and comfortable commuting for those passengers coming from beyond Ringwood Station, the triplication of the line between Box Hill and Ringwood is required.

Better Buses

Buses are the largest public transport option available to residents within Maroondah and the neighbouring municipalities. Bus patronage is growing, particularly on services with long operation and high frequency of service, i.e. the SmartBus Routes.

The recently conducted Metropolitan Bus Service Reviews was a step in the right direction with identifying inadequate service and generating regional specific solutions. However, very few of the recommendations have been implemented and they have only been small route extensions or minimal frequency and duration improvements.

Bus services in Maroondah remain poor with limited out of peak services and long wait times between services throughout most of the day. Improving bus services in coverage, service frequency and duration will provide real alternatives to the private vehicle and enable the community of Maroondah to have real choice in transport.


The provision of a more equitable, accessible public transport will reduce the detrimental effects of poor access to public transport in the eastern region, such as, social isolation, high car dependency, reduced financial freedom or the inability to access services.

A truly integrated and accessible transport network will also reduce the regions vulnerability to changes in the environment, such as climate change and peak oil.

I thank you for your attendance tonight and look forward to hearing how the candidates respond to your issues.

I’ll now hand you over to Clay to get the evening underway.

The Age: State failing to act on bus reviews

Over the past several years the State Government progressively undertook a review of bus services across metropolitan Melbourne, examining network coverage, route configuration, operating span and frequency.  The reviews were conducted along council boundaries, with Maroondah’s being undertaken last year, with the final report and recommendations not being made available until this year.

Unfortunately the implementation of these recommendations, which largely consisted of more frequent and longer running services, has been mixed. The Age has reported on the implementation of these reviews:

Maroondah mayor Alex Makin said his council had staged a public meeting in January last year, and later hosted two state government workshops. Many of the recommendations made by consultants after the review had not happened.

The bus service reviews identified short, medium and long-term priorities, with a series of recommendations that aim to improve bus services. While the short and medium term priorities had identifiable timeframes, the long-term initiatives, many of which included new routes to serve areas of Maroondah without bus services, lack an implementation plan.

Furthermore some of the short-term initiatives, including proposed frequency improvements, for route 670 along Maroondah Highway, one of Maroondah’s most highly patronised services, have not yet been delivered despite the review stating that this would begin in the middle of this year.

The State Government must deliver improvements to bus services to ensure that the bus network is a competitive form of transport.

Maroondah Leader: bus routes upgrade on agenda

The State Government has finally released the Knox/Maroondah and Yarra Ranges bus review, which covered a total of 57 bus routes, serving a population of almost half a million people.

The review includes a number of short-term initiatives, including more frequent services for route 670, which will also be extended to Swinburne University in Lilydale.  This bus route, which is one of Maroondah’s highest patronised services, runs along the Maroondah Highway, serving Ringwood, Croydon, Chirnside Park and Lilydale.

The Maroondah Leader has followed up on the release of the review and what it means for the City of Maroondah:

Maroondah Mayor Alex Makin said the improvements were positive, but new services were needed “sooner than later” to plug gaps along Canterbury Road and Mount Dandenong Road.

“We welcome the extension of route 670 along Maroondah Highway, which is long overdue,” he said.

“But the lack of a timeframe on the other projects is a concern.”

While these short-term improvements are welcomed, there is concern over the lack of timeframes for the longer-term initiatives, many of which will improve availability of bus services to residents in Maroondah.

The City of Maroondah issued a submission as part of the consultation into the bus service reviews, recommending frequency and operating span improvements. In addition Maroondah’s submission suggested  new services along Canterbury Road connecting the Maroondah Indoor Sports Stadium and providing a service between Ringwood and Box Hill, as well as a new route running direct along Mount Dandenong Road from Ringwood to provide an accessible service to Karralyka, the Maroondah Civic Centre and Maroondah Hospital.

While these new bus routes were included as recommendations within the review, a timeframe for their implementation has not been provided.  It is imperative that the State Government commit to the implementation of the bus service reviews to provide accessible and frequently available public transport within Maroondah.

Maroondah Journal: One step at a time for Mayor

One of the first initiatives I implemented as Mayor was to return the Mayoral car, meaning I would continue to utilise sustainable transport, such as buses, trains and walking when undertaking Council commitments.

The Maroondah Journal has reported on my usage of sustainable forms of transport within my Mayoral term:

Maroondah mayor Alex Makin has put his money where his mouth is, returning his mayoral vehicle to use public transport to get to council appointments. The long-time public transport advocate, gave up the car when he became mayor in December, putting the money back into the budget to benefit ratepayers.

Traditionally the Mayor of Maroondah has been provided with a car, which is traded in every two years. As Mayor I gave in the car providing a saving to Council and reinforcing the importance of sustainable transport within Maroondah.

Cr Makin said he had decided to give up the mayoral car because he wanted to lead by example.

“I live within the Ringwood central activities district, an area where the council is encouraging sustainable forms of transport, such as public transport and walking. It would be hypocritical for the mayor to use the car when living in an area where we are encouraging sustainable transport.”

Cr Makin said he planned his travel in advance to arrive at his appointments on time, but the lack of links between bus and train services could cause difficulties at times.

However, he said time spent travelling was sometimes a bonus.

“I tend to do a lot of council work on the move, whether it be phone calls or emails, while using public transport, so this time is quite efficiently used in terms of catching up with work.

“Certainly there is a benefit in terms of fitness and seeing Maroondah first-hand on a street-by-street basis.

“Public transport and walking also provides a great opportunity to speak to residents and community members and helps convey the role of being mayor and a councillor,” he said.

Cr Makin said he hoped future mayors of Maroondah would follow in his footsteps by using public transport where they could.

The mayoral car was traded in and replaced with a travel allowance, which Cr Makin said had provided a saving.

“It also demonstrates that councils should consider flexibility when providing travel, rather than following the standard formula of providing a car for the mayor.”

The transformation of Ringwood depends on public transport improvements to encourage sustainable forms of transport. As a Mayor that lives within the Ringwood Central Activities District I believe it is important to lead by example and demonstrate that public transport can be a viable form of transport.

While frequency and operating span improvements are required, particularly for bus services and off-peak rail travel, Maroondah does have the foundations of an integrated and functional public transport system. Complemented by Maroondah’s walking trails, sustainable forms of transport should be encouraged within the municipality.

Maroondah Leader: Demand for details

The State Government’s review into bus services within Knox, Maroondah and the Yarra Ranges commenced in October 2008, including two workshops that were held in February and June last year.

The second workshop presented draft recommendations with the facilitator stating that a final report would identify improvements to the bus network.  Despite the workshops being concluded in the middle of last year, the final report is yet to be released.

The Maroondah Leader has reported on the growing community impatience at the delays in releasing the bus service reviews:

Maroondah Mayor Alex Makin said the council wanted to see the report, which was tasked with identifying route alternations and service improvements, made public.

“We’re very keen to not only see the report released, but the recommended improvements implemented.

While some other areas have had the final reports provided, there has been no definitive timeframe established for the release of bus service review for Knox, Maroondah and Yarra Ranges.

The report was to identify short, medium and long-term improvements and the delays in releasing the report, will mean that any improvements are further delayed.

Cr Makin said the council and community had entered the consultations in goodwill, and was concerned that this was being lost with the delays in releasing the report.

Delays in releasing the findings of the bus service reviews can potentially undermine the community’s confidence in believing that improvements will be implemented.  Several of Maroondah’s bus services require frequency and operating span improvements and it is imperative that the findings are released so that this can occur.

Eastern Transport Coalition – Final Meeting as Maroondah’s delegate

The Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) is a Council based advocacy group seeking to improve public transport within the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Member councils include the City of Maroondah, the City of Greater Dandenong, City of Knox, City of Manningham, City of Monash, City of Whitehorse and the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

Each year councils determine the Councillor representation on committees. While I had been Maroondah’s representative on the ETC since being elected in 2006, I felt it was now time to provide another Councillor with the opportunity to represent Maroondah on this committee to expand the knowledge and expertise on public transport issues within Council.

As a result, I’m pleased to announce that Cr. Michael Macdonald will now be Maroondah’s representative on the Eastern Transport Coalition. Michael has expressed an interest in public transport issues and it is great to see that the need for public transport improvements is recognised within Council.

I attended tonight’s meeting to assist with introducing Michael to the group and to provide some background on the priorities of the Eastern Transport Coalition. I am confident that Michael will be a great asset to the ETC and public transport advocacy.

Despite no longer being on the Eastern Transport Coalition I will continue to advocate for public transport improvements. As Mayor I have refused the mayoral car and will be continuing to use public transport to attend council and community commitments. Furthermore I will continue advocating for improvements to bus and train services as well as the much needed redevelopment of Ringwood Station.

2010 promises to be an exciting year for the Eastern Transport Coalition and I look forward to Michael’s involvement in the committee, as well as Maroondah’s continued advocacy for public transport improvements.

Maroondah Leader: Going public

One of my first acts as the Mayor of Maroondah was to refuse the mayoral car.

I have been undertaking my council duties utilising a range of transport options, including public transport and walking. I believe it is imperative that we continue to encourage the use of sustainable forms of transport.

The Maroondah Leader has reported the decision to refuse the mayoral car:

Maroondah’s new mayor has vowed to ditch the mayoral car and use public transport instead.

“I’ll be taking the train and the bus and we’re going to have the mayoral Metcard, or the mayoral Myki depending as to when they introduce it.” Cr Makin said. “Given that I am a resident in the centre an area where we are encouraging people to use sustainable forms of transport, I want to lead by example.”

The usage and provision of public transport is vital to transformation of Ringwood into a vibrant, accessible and sustainable urban centre. The usage of public transport must be encouraged to enhance the mobility of Maroondah, through mitigating traffic congestion and improving social inclusiveness.

Cr Makin said he had not driven for years but got around his ward and performed his council duties successfully using public transport and walking.

While the centres of Ringwood and Croydon are relatively well-served by public transport, there is a need for further improvements to bus services to provide an alternative to driving to stations, as well as more frequent rail services during off-peak times.

Maroondah’s first Generation X mayor, aged 29, said he would focus on the environment and social inclusion. He invited constituents to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, his website or the phone.

As a council it is imperative that we are open to input and provide a range of methods to encourage discussion with our community. The Internet provides new methods of encouraging community participation and we should be at the forefront of using these tools to encourage dialogue and discussion.

As the mayor I will be continuing to regularly update my blog, as well as posting updates on Facebook and Twitter. I encourage members of the community to contact me so that we can continue making a difference in Maroondah.

In his inaugural speech on December 2, Cr Makin said the recent burning of the Ringwood Miners’ Cottage should prompt a public discussion on values to create “a civic pride that collectively demonstrates that such malicious destruction will not be tolerated”.

As a municipality it is imperative that we discuss the values shared by our community and work to reduce apathy and encourage civic participation. Acts like the destruction of the Miners Cottage should not be tolerated or accepted by our community and we need to create pride within our community to prevent such acts from occurring.

Cr Makin named priorities as the central Ringwood redevelopment, more venues for community organisations and access for people with disabilities.

The redevelopment of Ringwood provides a once in a generational opportunity to ensure that we get things right for Ringwood and to create an inclusive, accessible and sustainable urban centre. Pivotal to this will be the creation of community space where we can ensure that organisations can meet the needs of our community.

I hope that over the course of the next year I and my council colleagues will be able to achieve these goals.

Please continue visiting my website or follow me on Facebook and Twitter to discuss your visions for the City of Maroondah.

Eastern Transport Coalition – strengthening the bus service reviews and community advocacy

The Eastern Transport Coalition represents approximately one million residents, through its seven members council and advocates for public transport improvements within Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs.

Tonight’s meeting further discussed the State Government’s lack of progress in regard to the bus service reviews, with the final recommendations for Monash, Whitehorse and Manningham’s review still being unreleased. Given that these three councils had their reviews completed prior to Maroondah, it raises concerns as to the level of commitment from the State Government towards completing and implementing the bus service reviews.

Melbourne’s bus network largely consists of infrequent services, which have limited operating spans and follow convoluted and confusing routes. The bus service reviews provide an opportunity to improve the level of confidence in Melbourne’s bus network, through services that are direct, frequent and readily available.

The State Government’s bus service reviews provide an opportunity to improve Melbourne’s bus network, which is critical in areas like Melbourne’s outer east, since many residents reside beyond walking distance to rail stations. This will only be achieved however if the State Government commits to implementing the findings of these reviews in a timely manner.

Tonight’s meeting also discussed the Eastern Transport Coalition website and the need for integration with social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. As a council-led advocacy group, the Eastern Transport Coalition should be harnessing these tools to strengthen its ability to advocate on behalf of Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs.

Local Government has typically been slow to adapt to the Internet so it encouraging that the Eastern Transport Coalition has agreed on the importance of its website and the need to use its site to further its advocacy and reach to our local communities.

Speaking at the Kerrabee Club

The Kerrabee Club, located in Croydon, is a Planned Activity Group for the frail aged and people with disabilities. The Club is operated by the City of Maroondah and is available for eligible recipients of Home and Community Care (HACC).

This morning I was invited to speak to the Kerrabee Club about my role as a Councillor for Maroondah City Council. I discussed the plans for Ringwood and the need for the complete redevelopment of Ringwood Station to ensure that it is an accessible, integrated and easy to use transport interchange.

I spoke briefly about my background with public transport advocacy including the need for further improvements to bus services. A number of the attendees of the Club do not drive, meaning that accessible and frequent public transport is essential to ensure mobility and maintain socially connected within society.

The Kerrabee Club provides activities to enhance the emotional and social wellbeing of its participants, as well as providing respite for carers. For further information on the Kerrabee Club please visit