Eastern suburbs commuters are hoping that this State Budget will deliver some good public transport news for them and the long-awaited rail projects that are still in limbo.

Eastern Transport Coalition Chairperson, Cr Peter Lockwood said in the past few months the government had clearly recognised the strong community demand for rail, with several pre-budget announcements for improving rail links across Melbourne.

“We’ve had welcome and surprise announcements about improved train services on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, the removal of Zone 2 fares and a commitment to build the Melbourne Airport Rail Link,” Cr Lockwood said.

“We thought that the Airport Rail Link wouldn’t be possible without Melbourne Metro being built but the government has found a way to accelerate its delivery.

“As a result we hope there will be a similar surprise in the Budget for residents in the east who are still waiting for the government to fund phase 2 of Rowville and Doncaster Rail and begin the Melbourne Metro project.”

Cr Lockwood said while expanded rail was critical to ensure improved liveability and economic prosperity, improving bus services was critical to meeting many people’s transport needs today.

“For many residents, particularly in the outer eastern suburbs, buses are the only public transport available within a reasonable distance of their homes and so it is critical that these services are as efficient and accessible as they can be.”

The ETC has called on the State Government to:

  • Commence construction of the Metro Rail Tunnel project, fund stage two of the Doncaster and Rowville Rail Feasibility Studies and deliver them sooner than the current 2025 timeframe.
  • Work with local councils to implement the supported recommendations of the Metropolitan Bus Service Review or create a new plan. Although completed in 2010, the bulk of its recommendations have not been implemented.
  • Continue delivering the program to separate all rail and road transport along each of the Belgrave-Lilydale, Glen Waverly and Dandenong lines.
  • Provide funding to improve infrastructure around public transport to ensure access for people of all abilities, for example footpath connections, lighting, bus shelters and safe and frequent road crossings.
  • Provide quality cycling facilities to improve safety, connectivity of the off-road network and improved facilities at key destinations.

“Recent advertising by the government has been telling us they are committed to delivering better public transport for Melbourne. The ETC, alongside the million residents in the eastern suburbs we represent, is waiting to see just how serious that commitment is and how many decades it will take before we actually get to use it,” Cr Lockwood said.