The Auditor General’s report tabled in Parliament this week is further evidence that more money must be invested in Melbourne’s public transport network to meet present and future needs, according to the Eastern Transport Coalition.

 In his report to Parliament, Auditor-General Des Pearson estimated that public transport patronage would jump by around 70 per cent in the next decade.

 He also estimated that capital expenditure on public transport would need to triple over the next decade to cope with this expected growth.

 ETC Chairperson, Cr Samantha Dunn said communities in Melbourne’s east have been crying out for better public transport for decades, particularly rail services, to provide affordable transport alternatives and to ease road congestion.

 “The economic and environmental benefits of an extended rail network in the east of Melbourne are enormous,” Cr Dunn said.

 “Feasibility studies are currently being carried out for the Rowville and Doncaster Railway links, which is a great first step. However, it is crucial that government follows through on these projects.

 “The cost of failing to deliver an integrated public transport system will be felt by the entire community through overcrowding on existing public transport, worse congestion on our roads and lost productivity.”

 Cr Dunn said addressing inadequate public transport was one of the major challenges for the local area.

 “An integrated public transport system, which includes the Rowville and Doncaster rail links, will provide a real transport alternative for our area, which is heavily car-dependant,” Cr Dunn said.

 Cr Dunn also urged the government to maintain a focus on grade separations.

 “Traffic congestion around rail crossings has a real impact on the road system and also impacts on the ability for train services to run more frequently,” she said.

 Cr Dunn said the ETC was keen to work with both the State and Federal Governments to achieve an integrated transport plan that provided better links between rail, trams and buses, optimised the services currently provided and provided new links where needed.

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