Public transport priorities will be a major factor influencing votes at the upcoming State Election according to new research results release today by the Eastern Transport Coalition as part of its Commuters Count election campaign.

Conducted by Essential Research, the Eastern Suburbs Transport Poll of more than 1000 residents in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, found that 64 per cent of residents rated improving and expanding public transport as a top or very high priority, and the majority of respondents surveyed said they were more likely to vote for a party that committed to building key rail projects as well as the East West link.

Significantly, the research also found that three out of four people believe that the delivery of rail projects needs to be accelerated and delivered sooner than the 2025-50 schedule the State Government has currently set for Melbourne Metro, Doncaster Rail and Rowville Rail.

ETC Chairperson, Peter Lockwood said residents in the eastern suburbs were not prepared to wait forever while long-overdue public transport projects were left on hold for another couple of generations.

“Residents are telling us that both public transport and road improvements are needed. While many people consider the East West Link important for reducing congestion, the majority of people in this survey said it was not as important as delivering rail and both needed to be done,’’ Cr Lockwood said.

“People also believe the current timing for major rail infrastructure projects is unacceptable, with 75 per cent saying Melbourne Metro, Doncaster and Rowville Rail should be built sooner.”

Cr Lockwood said there was a backlog of public transport projects across the eastern region, identified through studies, plans and audits over decades.

“The current debate about road versus rail ignores the real need of commuters and businesses who need better transport infrastructure across the board, not choices between modes,” he said.

“Seven out of 10 people said they believe the quality of life for people living in Melbourne will be jeopardised if both rail and road projects are not delivered and 72 per cent would rather see any savings in government spend reinvested in road and rail infrastructure projects rather than delivering a budget surplus.

“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 to the bottom of the list.

“Many of those residents are telling us that will make their frustration known at the ballot box later this year.”

Cr Lockwood encouraged commuters to share their views via the ETC’s Commuters Count Facebook page or the hash tag #commuterscount on Twitter.

The ETC will be holding a public transport summit on April 9 where representatives from local government, business, public transport associations and interest groups will gather to discuss how the current and future state budgets can be used to satisfy the transport needs of the outer eastern suburbs.

Cr Lockwood said the leaders of the State Liberal, Labor and Greens parties have also been invited to hear first-hand the community’s concerns and hopes when it comes to future public transport priorities and spending.

Selected highlights of poll

  • 64% think improving and expanding public transport is the top priority or very important ranking with education and above water, new roads and the environment
  • Three-quarters of respondents believed that the rail projects should be built sooner – only 10% thought the timing was acceptable and a further 7% thought they did not need to be built at all.
  • 69% agree that if all the projects are not built there will be serious impacts on traffic and quality of life in Melbourne while only 17% think that the transport system will cope until the Government can afford to build them.
  • 55% believe it is similarly important for the State Government to invest in major road and rail projects.  28% think the rail projects are more important and 14% think the East-West link is more important.
  • There was strong support for Government investment in infrastructure. Only 18% think that it is more important for the Government to reduce their spending to return the budget to surplus.