NEW PM OFFERS HOPE

By: Randall Johnston


Bus industry appeals to the new prime minister to address public transport funding issues

NEW PM OFFERS HOPE
New Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull may be more open to investing Federal Government funds into key public transport infrastructure

The bus industry had welcomed Malcolm Turnbull as the new Australian prime minister and hopes the Federal Government he now oversees will start directly funding public transport projects.

Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) executive director Michael Apps says it was obvious that a change of political leadership was needed and is confident Turnbull will be more receptive than Tony Abbott to investing Federal Government funds into key public transport infrastructure.

"It was clear that The Coalition needed to move forward," he says.

"We hope the new prime minister, who is accustomed to riding the bus and train, and wife Lucy – who is ex-lord mayor of Sydney – will form the dynamic duo to make our cities function efficiently, and ensure our public transport networks are supported by Federal Government in the future planning process."

It is ridiculous, Apps says, for the Federal Government to just ignore public transport in Australian cites, which produce 80 per cent of the national GDP and moving people efficiently is key to an efficient economy.

Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) president Tony Morton agrees, and says he hopes the leadership change will herald a new era of Federal Government funding for public transport.

"We hope in his new position he will reverse the outgoing prime minister's ridiculous position to fund only roads," he says.

"We look forward to a new era of constructive federal engagement with state governments, including with premier Daniel Andrews in Victoria, to fund and deliver vitally needed public transport improvements.

"Mr Abbott never did seem to grasp that building more roads doesn't solve traffic congestion, and doesn't help build the modern 'knowledge' economies that are now driving Australia’s prosperity."

Infrastructure decision making should take heed to and respect independent expert advice, Morton says, such as Infrastructure Australia’s report on the need to increase the capacity of public transport networks in metropolitan areas to meet future population growth and demand.

"We look forward to Mr Turnbull becoming a genuine 'infrastructure prime minister' and ensuring that Federal funding for urban and regional transport projects is based on merit and evidence," Morton says.

The leaders of each state government are now scrambling to meet with Turnbull to plead the case for the Federal Government helping to fund their various public transport infrastructure projects, which in many cases cannot be delivered –at least on time and as promised – to their state election voters otherwise.

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