ELECTION UPDATE: Tassie mayors push pollies on bus funding

A group of Tasmania’s mayors are placing pressure on Federal candidates at the August election through a joint statement on bus funding

ELECTION UPDATE: Tassie mayors push pollies on bus funding
ELECTION UPDATE: Tassie mayors push pollies on bus funding

By David Goeldner | July 30, 2010

A group of Tasmanian mayors released a ‘fair go for public transport’ funding plan this week, seeking commitment from Federal election candidates to support a $32 million package.

The plan aims to link southern Tasmania’s buses, Derwent River ferries, cycleways, satellite transport hubs and regional roads to reduce congestion, improve road safety and make public transport more efficient, safe and convenient.

"The time is ripe for Australian Government investment in this much-needed project," Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority chairman Rob Valentine says.

Bus-related parts of the Southern Councils Transport Plan seeks funding for new bus interchanges around outlying parts of the Hobart area and improvements to convenience and safety.

Social inclusion of services provided to outlying towns is considered in the plan.

"We are asking for a solid commitment from political parties and candidates for Denison, Franklin and Lyons to deliver this project for the region," Valentine says.

"The project ticks the right boxes for sustainable living with many components earmarked in local and state government strategic documents," he says,

Valentine says the aim of the campaign is to secure greater Australian Government funding for infrastructure and to secure firm commitments by all parties ahead of the election.

Bus Industry Confederation Executive Director Michael Apps supports the mayors’ campaign, saying it mirrors BIC’s ‘Moving People Solutions for Growing Australia’ strategy.

"While it’s not exactly the same model, Tasmanian councils got together and talked about their infrastructure, passenger transport and community personal mobility needs," Apps says.

"It’s exactly the approach we need – top down transport planning from the states, bottom up from local government with federal involvement to make it happen.

"It’s an important initiative by Tasmanian local government."

Apps says this approach should be broadly applied across Australia.

"Each of the political parties at a federal level must recognize they do have a role and they can’t just say it’s a state issue any longer."

Apps is surprised public transport had not been mentioned in the election campaign until now.

He adds the Tasmanian mayors have a potentially powerful voice in this Federal election.

"They have the capacity to influence the Federal government about future public transport policy," he says.

"And I think the work of the Tasmanian mayors might be a test case or possibly a watershed."

Traditionally seen as a state issue, Apps says if the mayors’ group influences Federal Liberal or Labor to agree to move into public transport then it’s a significant step forward.

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