Mass transit plan pitch

A leading public transport identity is calling for a new Mass Transit Group to spearhead industry lobbying

Mass transit plan pitch
Mass transit plan pitch

October 8, 2013

Former International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Australia/New Zealand Executive Director Peter Moore is calling for the creation of a peak group for mass transit.

In an open letter to Australasian Bus and Coach magazine,
titled ‘Short Selling Mass Transit’, Moore is critical of Federal Government public transport policy, or lack thereof, and questions the approach taken by transport industry associations to bring substantive change.

Moore’s letter is referred to in ‘At the Helm’, ABC magazine, issue #314, October 2013, and is reproduced here in full...


So Australia has a new Federal Liberal Coalition in power with a transport policy that puts road building and private car transport once again at the top of the agenda – and our nation to shame as a progressive, developing society.

Where else in the world has a government been elected on an agenda suggesting more roads and cars in ever expanding suburbs without options for mass transit as "the solution".

It is hard to comprehend that voters accepted such a "solution".

So how did we get to this point and how as an industry can we react?

Not too effectively under our current industry representation regime, given the differing agendas and widespread resources of the national associations that represent public transport (please - let us finally call it "mass transit") in Australia.

I know - the Associations will claim we have a "Moving People Strategy" that consolidates the industry agenda for mass transit – but what has this achieved in the last ten years other than repackaging what is now tired policy and what has been the outcome on the delivery of this policy?

We spend vast amounts of dollars and are very comfortable at re-writing research, developing policy, undertaking events and exhibitions, but as an industry we are absolutely abysmal at delivering change on the ground.

Certainly the Liberal Coalition does not appear to have paid too much attention to our suggestions given their public enthusiasm for building and expanding roads and freeways around the nation.

As a member of Australia’s Industry Associations – BIC, ARA, TTF, UITP, Local Government, State Bus Associations, health groups etc, I would be questioning whether MY membership dollar that is supposedly promoting an agenda to expand the market for mass transit around Australia (isn’t this really the "top line" agenda for all of us), is performing.

Given the Liberal Coalition agenda that is about to be put in place, I suggest your scarce membership fees are not achieving an effective outcome for the industry, for society and for the future of your business – irrespective of whether you manufacture buses or trains or operate a bus or rail group, or undertake research or develop policy and legislation or publish bus magazines.

In the past few years, starting with the 2011 Bus Industry Confederation Conference in Fiji, many of the larger bus suppliers around Australia have indicated a genuine reluctance and a financial inability to support so many annual industry events. Chris Lowe, Executive Director, BAV, delivered a very effective presentation on this matter that representatives of Australia’s national bus industry have largely ignored.

I suggest many in the Australian bus industry are reflecting what many in the overall "mass transit" industry are privately thinking – we want cost effective industry representation for our membership/ sponsorship/ exhibition dollar.

Our current industry representation environment reflects:

· Scarce industry resources available to promote our agenda and it is spread far too thin

· Society that is screaming about the cost and difficulties of owning and maintaining two or three cars to get to work and school and every other activity, from areas that have no effective mass transit options

· The middle and outer suburban areas of our major cities are all suffering from the creation of the urban transit poor – dividing society and there is no quick fix!

· Voters and governments do not believe in our industry agenda or worst of all - is not aware of the available, socially economic, responsibly effective options

· Mass transit does not have a national group to represent and more importantly aggressively deliver the interests of the industry

So what do we put in place to address these critical matters?

It is about time that we did away with the barriers to expanding the market for mass transit – and a major obstacle is we do not have a national body to achieve this.

We need to create a group that is well resourced, can effectively communicate and most importantly advocate and deliver on the expansion of mass transit to developed and future well planned places in society.

It will be expensive to resource such a group – to gain national attention to our agenda requires a strong, recognised profile, supportive media and ongoing active promotion.

Now comes the difficult part - this will undoubtedly mean relocating many of the resources of our various Associations to a national group headed by a high profile, publicly recognised person(s) that government and the media will respect, seek the views of and instantly recognise.

I am suggesting a mass transit national equivalent to the groups that represent cars and roads in Australia.

But the focus must be on advocacy and delivery of change in mass transit – the days of more research and policy development must surely be at an end.

The Liberal Coalition does not believe in what we have been doing – why should society believe us without a national effective voice?

Peter Moore

Former Executive Director, Australian City Transit Association and International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Australia/New Zealand, 1994-2012

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