Top-down funds needed

Bus travel can’t be a time-efficient mode for all, unless funding comes from the Feds

Top-down funds needed
Driving can be much faster that catching mutiple public transport services for people in Melbourne's outer suburbs, but this can be changed if the Federal Government invests in public transport

Politicians are increasingly calling for Federal Government to directly fund key public transport initiatives in Australia’s major cities.

The Infrastructure Australia report is just one of number of case studies that have recommended investment at a national level is required to ease congestion, maximise the productivity of each state and increase service levels so that public transport become a real option for private vehicle commuters.

Victorian senator Janet Rice used the example of two Melbourne commuters to highlight the need for national investment during her speech in the senate on June 24.

To summarise her point, while public transport is often an option for those who live close to the city, it is often not for those who live on the outer fringes – largely due to inadequate and inconvenient bus services.

For those in the outer-suburbs, it is often much faster to drive because of the need to catch multiple services that don’t connect seamlessly.

Rice’s recommendation in light of this situation is clear.

"We need to get away from this outdated thinking that federal transport funding should just be about roads."

Shadow minister for infrastructure and transport Anthony Albanese agrees.

"Anyone who wonders whether governments should invest in public transport in this country should take a ride on Victoria’s new Regional Rail Link," he says.

"This fantastic public transport project, expected to deliver the state’s economy $300m a year in productivity gains, should also cause the commonwealth government to seriously reconsider its stubborn refusal to get behind the plan to build the Melbourne Metro.

"Australian cities are creaking under the weight of population growth and urban sprawl and road networks with limited capacity are struggling to cope."

Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) executive director Michael Apps says a Federal Government investment in improved metropolitan bus networks is something BIC has advocated for many years.

He is confident that a public transport network that is nationally funded and well-integrated could achieve a standard where people can get to work other important destinations within 20 minutes, but cannot be done under the current state-funding model.

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