The Easter Eastern Transport Coalition has welcomed the significant focus on public transport outlined in yesterday’s Budget as a good start, particularly spending on buses, the upgrade of the Huntingdale Bus Interchange and grade separations.

ETC Chairman, Cr Peter Lockwood said public transport has been inadequately funded for far too many years and hopefully the projects outlined in the new Budget would begin to redress the balance.

“For many in the eastern suburbs, buses are the only form of public transport and so the $100 million allocated to upgrade the bus network will be welcomed,’’ he said.

“The ETC looks forward to seeing a comprehensive metropolitan bus plan to ensure that the best services are provided to residents where they need them.

“The Huntingdale Bus Interchange has been sorely needed and we are pleased to see that $5 million has been allocated to this project, as well as $2.6 million for car parking improvements.

“The announced grade separations will also go a long way to improving efficiency on the rail network and it was pleasing to see funding allocated to begin the promised program of level crossing removals, including those between Dandenong and Caulfield.”

Cr Lockwood said the ETC also supported the Melbourne Metro Project and trial of high capacity signalling, recognising that it was necessary to increase capacity in the core of the network before other critical projects like Doncaster and Rowville Rail could be built.

“It is disappointing that funding wasn’t committed to finish stage 2 of the Doncaster Rail Feasibility Study and it is important that this project and the Rowville Rail project aren’t shelved for another four decades,” Cr Lockwood said.

He reiterated calls for the Government to take steps now to protect the preferred alignment for these projects before the land is swallowed up by incremental development.

“We hope that we will have the opportunity to work with the government to ensure that these projects best meet the needs of commuters and maximise their value both for the government and local communities,’’ Cr Lockwood said.