Maroondah residents were understandably disappointed with the answers they received to their questions about public transport at this week’s Eastern Transport Coalition forum, ETC spokesperson Cr Mick Van de Vreede.
“Around 60 residents and public transport users braved horrible weather to ask questions directly of the major political parties on Wednesday night,” Cr Van de Vreede said.
“It’s fair to say most were very disappointed by the answers they received,” he said.
Cr Van de Vreede said that the most pressing local issue at the forum was the badly needed upgrade to Ringwood station, to increase accessibility, amenity, safety and capacity.
“While the Greens party committed to the ask put forward by Maroondah City Council and the ETC should they win the balance of power, the ALP and the Liberal Party were reluctant to commit to the project in any specific or meaningful way,” he said.
The forum coincided with the launch of Maroondah City Council’s ‘Missing Piece’ campaign, which focuses on the Ringwood station upgrade.
“Council has created a Ringwood Central Activities District jigsaw which highlights the residential, commercial, commercial development in Ringwood and how they are all linked in with the station,” Maroondah Mayor Cr Alex Makin said.
“The jigsaw highlights the substantial residential developments, the commercial investment and the significant community facilities, which are available within the Ringwood Central Activities District,” he said.
“The community clearly sees Ringwood Station as a priority with over 2000 signatures calling for the upgrade and over 500 visitations on Council’s social media campaign. It is time for each state political party to commit to delivering the missing piece and to fund an accessible, safe and integrated transport interchange for,” Cr Makin concluded.
Cr Van de Vreede said that the ETC Public Transport Forums were intended to inform residents of the east about how their candidates proposed to address critical needs for public transport in Melbourne’s east.
“Eastern residents have been neglected in public transport planning, and these forums provide an opportunity for those residents to ask the hard questions of those who would seek to represent them,” Cr Van de Vreede said.
“The current Victorian Transport Plan is based on the Eddington report, which ignores anything east of Warrigal Road. That’s why there’s not much in there for eastern residents.”
“Unfortunately the major parties don’t appear to appreciate the desperate need for a proper study into eastern public transport – instead we get a piecemeal approach that lacks any real strategy,” Cr Van de Vreede said.
“Public transport is a key state election issue, and we want all of our residents to be fully informed about the transport plans of the major parties before they go to the ballot box,” he said.
Cr Van de Vreede expressed his appreciation that Mr Brian Tee, Parliamentary Secretary for Public Transport, Richard Dalla-Riva MLA, and Greens party candidates Chris Padgham (Warrandyte) and Justin-Paul Sammons (Kilsyth) were able to attend the forum.
“We appreciate the time our political representatives and candidates gave to us, and we also note that several other local candidates from major parties were in attendance,” Cr Van de Vreede said.
“Unfortunately while the major parties continue to ignore sustainable public transport in the east, their constituents will remain disillusioned and, worse, remain in their cars, adding to congestion,” he said.
Cr Van de Vreede said upcoming forums at Yarra Ranges Council (Mooroolbark Community Centre, October 20), Knox and Monash City Councils (Knox Civic Centre, October 27), and Manningham City Council (October 27) would provide further opportunities for residents to ask public transport questions directly to the major parties.
To register to attend the forums, residents can visit www.etc.org.au or call their participating Council. Residents can also submit questions to be asked at the forums online, or ask their candidates on the night.
Simon Tolstrup, CPR
0408 331 356