The priority and funding allocated to public transport projects in the next state Budget will be the true indicator of the State Government’s commitment in this area, Eastern Transport Coalition chairperson, Cr Samantha Dunn said today.
Cr Dunn said there was a backlog of public transport projects across the eastern region, identified through studies, plans and audits over decades.
She said the ETC supported the Victorian Government’s plan for expanding and improving the rail network but wanted it delivered quicker.
“The million residents of the eastern suburbs can’t wait until 2028 for the generational improvements needed for rail. By that time it will be a generation since they were promised and that’s too long,” Cr Dunn said.
“The current debate about road versus rail ignores the real need of commuters and businesses alike – we need better transport infrastructure, not choices between modes.
“Residents in Melbourne’s east have had enough of public transport plans and studies that don’t produce results because they are unfunded or pushed so far into the future that they are continually relegated the bottom of the list by other plans and projects.”
As the next State Budget is prepared, the ETC has asked the government to include in its short term priorities: funding the Melbourne Metro project, funding for stage two of the Doncaster Rail Feasibility Study, an upgrade of bus services, an increased program of grade separations, a move towards high capacity signalling along the rail network and improved cycling opportunities.
The key medium-term public transport priority for the region is improved rail services, specifically building the Doncaster and Rowville Rail lines.
Cr Dunn said the government had identified the Monash and Dandenong South National Employment Clusters as critical drivers of economic growth in the eastern region.
However this potential will only be realised with the delivery of key transport projects, namely the Melbourne Metro and subsequent Rowville and Dandenong rail projects.
“Political parties on both sides have agreed that Melbourne Metro is critical to the delivery of future development around Melbourne. Now is the time to put those words into action and provide funding to start this project in the short term,’’ Cr Dunn said.
Cr Dunn said the ETC acknowledged that the rail projects would take time to complete and for that reason, bus services in the region must be improved and expanded in the short term.
“Melbourne’s bus services have been the subject of numerous review and recommendations, including a Metropolitan Bus Service Review, completed in 2010. Unfortunately, less than 10 per cent of the recommendations from that review have been funded and realised,” she said.
“Funding needs to be provided to ensure that there are enough buses to meet demand and that travel times are improved to make it a viable option to car travel.”
Cr Dunn encouraged commuters to share their views and hopes for the coming State Budget via the ETC’s Commuters Count Facebook page or the hash tag #commuterscount on Twitter.
“As the State election draws closer, the ETC will be campaigning for better outcomes across all modes of public transport and for all commuters in the outer east,’’ Cr Dunn said.
“Now is the time for residents in Melbourne’s east to speak up and tell the government that they deserve more than they have been given in the past 40 years.”