Australia, Bus Industry News

Victorian councils and parties respond to Melbourne bus report

Local councils and political parties have weighed in on the popular bus infrastructure report, calling on the state government to pick the right transport option for Melbourne’s future

Both Victorian political parties and local councils have responded to the findings of Infrastructure Victoria’s Melbourne bus report released last week.

The Infrastructure Victoria Fast, frequent, fair: how buses can better connect Melbourne report supported the benefits of bus network reform and how priority bus lanes and rapid transit can revitalise the city’s bus infrastructure.

The Victorian Liberal party responded quickly to the report, saying that it produced more evidence that the Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) plan is “the wrong transport priority for Melbourne”.

The report found that “buses can provide faster and more frequent services, operate for longer hours and use routes that better connect shopping precincts, train stations and other activity centres”.

With it also being proposed as “the quickest and cheapest solution to meet Melbourne’s growing transport needs”, shadow public transport minister Matthew Guy says a proposed express bus near the site of the SRL could return around $2.60 for every dollar invested through rapid bus transit.

“Labor’s own infrastructure adviser has joined the chorus of expert opinion that connecting suburban activity areas can be better done by other modes of transport, without spending up to $200 billion that Victoria does not have,” Guy says.

“It is complete arrogance for Premier Jacinta Allan to refuse to listen to any expert about building a single rail line at such cost when the same result can be achieved by spending so much less.

“What’s clear is that a rail line from Cheltenham to Box Hill will not have anywhere near the same economic return as rapid bus transit. Building the SRL now will mean Metro 2 can’t be built, it means that big regional rail projects like Geelong Fast Rail have stalled and it means Melbourne won’t get an airport rail.”

Guy says that “no Victorian voted to restrict every bit of infrastructure funding for the next decade into one single project in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs”.

“Labor says that Melbourne will eventually have the population of London and that’s why the SRL is needed,” Guy says.

“But London has five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Luton and Stansted – and every one of them has a rail connection, Labor should get their priorities right before embarking on this up to $200 billion project.”

From the Liberal party to local councils, Melbourne’s Nillumbik Shire Council welcomed the call to overhaul the bus network and increase bus timetable frequency in outer suburbs.

The council says the announcement aligns with Nillumbik Council’s recent calls for the state government to undertake a local area bus review across the Northern Metropolitan Partnership Region. It also supports a bus study recently completed by the Northern Councils Alliance (NCA), of which Nillumbik is a member.

“A Local Area Bus Review across the Northern Metropolitan Partnership Region is one of Nillumbik Shire Council’s key advocacy priorities, and something we believe would be a small investment to achieve significant outcomes for our community,” Nillumbik Mayor Ben Ramcharan says.

“Some simple changes, such as making bus routes more efficient, more effective coordination of bus and train timetables and greater connectivity across areas, could help ensure the diverse transport needs of our community are better supported.”

Ramcharan says buses are an essential service for many people young and old who rely on public transport to travel to and from employment, health services and education.

“Creating more efficient and reliable bus services will not only help those who rely on public transport to get to where they need to go but might also encourage more people to use public transport, which will help ease the growing congestion on our roads,” he says.

“The issues being raised in Infrastructure Victoria’s report reiterate many of the challenges and opportunities that have been raised through the NCA’s comprehensive Transport Report and Nillumbik’s own advocacy work, and it’s great to see issues around our bus network getting the attention they deserve.

“We urge the state government to make the most of the research and reports available by directing more investment towards public transport improvements that will make a real difference.”

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