The Victorian Transport Plan signals little relief for Melburnians: say BusVic

By: Chris Smith

BusVic say The Victorian Transport Plan will deliver little improvement in local public transport services for Melburnians. The Association say

BusVic say The Victorian Transport Plan will deliver little improvement in local public transport services for Melburnians.

The Association say the Plan does not go far enough, for its $38 billion price tag, and will not lead to large scale behavioural change that is essential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"The package of $38 billion is forecast to reduce Victorian’s transport emissions by only 5 percent below business as usual increases - we would expect a much greater cut in transport emissions from a $38 billion investment in transport," says spokesperson Chris Loader.

"We believe large scale behaviour change towards public transport is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improved local bus services are also essential to provide relief from rising fuel prices and greater social inclusion.

"The Victorian Transport Plan will only have a modest impact on behavioural change, especially considering almost half the funding is dedicated to major road capacity that will make private motoring more attractive."

The Association acknowledges the current difficult financial constraints the government faces – however say it expects further funding for bus services across Victoria as soon as is possible.

BusVic say the announcement of new funding for bus services, particularly in the Doncaster corridor, Geelong, Latrobe Valley, Bacchus Marsh, and other regional and rural areas is welcome news, although it says the improvements come at a cost to the highly successful SmartBus program.

"We also welcome the improvements to capacity on the stressed rail network. The new rail links will help ease congestion on the rail network, and will need to be supported by better feeder bus services," Loader says.

"While we welcome the modest increase in funding for local bus routes in Melbourne, we note this has largely come at the expense of rolling out the high frequency SmartBus program, which has been de-prioritised.

"The evidence shows that frequent bus services that operate seven days a week, gets people out of their cars, and the SmartBus program has been highly successful at growing public transport patronage."

With only a small increment in funding for buses, BusVic say it may be difficult to:
  • implement many of the recommendations of the Bus Service Reviews,
  • increase bus service frequencies, AND
  • extend the bus network to the sprawling outer suburbs.

    "As a result, we are likely to continue to see hourly bus services in the outer suburbs, which do not provide real relief from rising petrol prices," Loader says.

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