Wish list quashed

Hopes for more bus service funding in Victoria have been quashed with the release of the state’s 2012 budget

Wish list quashed

By Sean Muir | May 4, 2012

Hopes for more bus service funding in Victoria have been quashed with the release of the state’s budget this week.

In a pre-budget wish list released exclusively to Australasian Bus and Coach Magazine, Bus Association Victoria Executive Director Chris Lowe highlighted the need for urgent funding for five key initiatives:

- Providing additional bus services to meet growth in new areas

- Turning the radial rail network into a web of interconnected routes

- Increasing the span and frequency of bus services

- Addressing overcrowding and late running of bus services

- Clearing the backlog of underserviced suburbs and regions

The state budget, released on May 1, allocated $172 million for rail regional maintenance, almost $50 million for planning Metro Rail Tunnel, $15 million in planning and drilling funds for east-west road project, $350 million over four years to remove dangerous level crossings, and at least 30 new V/Line passenger train carriage costing hundreds of millions.

But Lowe says no extra funding was allocated for any of the bus industry’s initiatives.

"They didn’t allocate any specific funds for the five things we were calling for," Lowe says.

"So we haven’t gone backwards, but we haven’t gone forwards either."

Lowe says while he knew there wasn’t government funding available to address all the items, he had hoped the government would at least release a plan for the future.

"There is still a notable absence of state vision for transport and how it relates to planning," Lowe says.

"Whilst we realise strategies take time to develop, the time is right for the government to release a comprehensive strategy for transport and urban planning because they are not helping themselves to defer it."

"We have all got to be working toward a vision, and right now we still don’t know what that vision is."

Despite not receiving any funding or direction from the government, Lowe says he is pleased that transport funding wasn’t cut.

"In that respect we are fortunate," he says.

He says he is also pleased the government has committed to more road funding.

"The increased investment in road infrastructure is a good initiative because it is badly needed," Lowe says.

"The one thing that all my members have in common is the condition of the road, so when the government comes out and says we are going to increase road funding we are happy."

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