The Federal Coalition’s refusal to invest in urban rail projects in favour of road funding is a short-sighted attitude that fails to recognise the many benefits an effective public transport system can deliver, Eastern Transport Coalition spokesperson Cr Samantha Dunn said today.

While a substantial investment in public transport infrastructure is needed, Cr Dunn said the ongoing benefits should not be discounted.

“Public transport has received an inadequate proportion of government spending for decades and as a result, the cost of making it a truly useful, modern and integrated system continues to grow,” Cr Dunn said.

“It will take both the State and Federal Governments working together to deliver the missing links and urgently needed upgrades to Victoria’s public transport network.”

Cr Dunn said a Department of Transport and Regional Services White Paper from 2007 found that Road congestion costs the Victorian economy approximately $3 billion a year.

“By investing some money into public transport, we will ultimately need to spend less on financing new roads that we know will become congested soon after they are opened,” Cr Dunn said.

“Less congestion means that travel times are reduced, which also reduces travel costs for freight vehicles and commercial activity.”

Cr Dunn said a good public transport system delivered around employment hubs, educational facilities and residential development, would also provide greater job accessibility and employment opportunities.

“Public transport can reduce social isolation for those without access to a private vehicle or for those unable to drive due to disability or age and provides massive environmental benefits with less pollution from motor vehicles,” she said.

“As the Federal Election draws near, more than one million residents in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs, who have lived with inadequate public transport for decades, will be looking to see who has a long-term vision for a sustainable future for all Australians – not just those in the inner city.”

The ETC is made up of seven eastern suburban councils, and represents the public transport needs of more than one million residents.