BusVic calls for new transport funding model

A backlog of Victorian transport and infrastructure needs has driven BusVic to develop a new funding model for government consideration

By Sean Muir |
November 14, 2012

A billion-dollar backlog of infrastructure and transport needs in Victoria has driven BusVic to take the unusual step of developing a proposed funding model for the Victorian Government.

As part of its submission on the State Government’s metropolitan planning strategy discussion paper, BusVic is developing a new infrastructure funding model for consideration.

BusVic Executive Director Chris Lowe says BusVic, RACV, Metro Trains Melbourne and Yarra Trams all agree that a new model is needed to fund transport infrastructure and service improvements.

"We need an open plebiscite where everybody can come together and discuss all the options of how we might be able to fund these projects that are going to cost billions of dollars," Lowe says.

"I am going that one step further and putting a model on the table.

"Whether our government has the political courage to support such a model remains to be seen."

Lowe says BusVic has explored about 15 different funding schemes the government could ratify, but the one with ‘real teeth’ is a model promoting shared responsibility.

"I think we have to be bold and courageous and look at what I call a Victorian transport infrastructure bond, where the bond is funded five ways, through the Federal Government, State Government, Local Government, industry and patrons," Lowe says.

"The money goes in, and we develop a nice big bank account. We can borrow against that and the interest earned from the bond pays the dividends."

Lowe says if a new transport infrastructure model is not supported Victoria will continue to tread water.

"I think Victorians are at the point whereby there is such a backlog of infrastructure that is sorely needed that we have just got to find a way to fund it."

Lowe’s calls for alternative funding came after the release of RACV’s blueprint for 159 much-needed transport projects in 16 outer municipalities.

According to the blueprint, Melbourne needs $7.4 billion spent on roads and public transport to ease the infrastructure backlog on outer suburbs and Geelong.

Lowe, who attended the document’s launch, says the blueprint is an integral document and covers areas the Victorian Government’s metropolitan planning strategy should cover.

"We have those people who live in the inner ring who have access to all these public transport options, trains, trams and buses at their doorsteps, and then we have those on the outer fringe that don’t have this access," Lowe says.

"So the main part of the transport section of the metropolitan planning strategy has to be about giving these people in the outer suburban areas the extent of access to public transport and mobility options that those who live in the inner and middle suburbs have."

The metropolitan planning strategy is being developed to help guide Melbourne’s growth for the next 30 to 40 years and is due for release late next year.

Submissions on the strategy’s discussion paper are due early next year.

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