Environment Victoria’s proposals for improving regional public transport offer intelligent and sensible solutions for the state’s rail and bus services, says State Transport Minister Peter Batchelor.
“The issues canvassed in the report are wide ranging and comprehensive. The policy options it puts forward are well considered and researched,” Mr Batchelor said at this morning’s launch of “Driving the Fast Train Further – Integrated Public Transport Across all Victoria”. The report examines how the Fast Train project can be optimised and how the frequency of service and well-organised bus connections can enhance services for rural and regional Victorians.
“In so many ways, the report is a breath of fresh air in what sometimes passes as the transport debate in the media and broader community,” the Minister said.
Mr Batchelor said the Fast Train project was on track for timely delivery and in meantime the Bracks government has set up Public Transport Planning Unit to develop a 20 year strategy. This team and the Department of Infrastructure have already been asked to look at Environment Victoria’s recommendations.
Environment Victoria has welcomed the Government’s public pledge to addressing the “historic imbalance that has existed between planning for roads and planning for public transport.”
“Road transport is the fastest growing contributor to greenhouse emissions and Victoria desperately needs a plan to cut our contribution to global warming,” said Esther Abram, Director of Environment Victoria.
“While Mr Bachelor said our proposals would be subject to the normal budget constraints and have to compete with other funding priorities, we are confident that the Government will see the importance of investing in public transport in regional Victoria. It has to be done from an environmental, economic and social point of view,” said Ms Abram.
“It seems to us that there is a new spirit of genuine commitment to making a public transport strategy a reality for rural and regional Victoria,” said John McPherson, one of the authors of “Driving the Fast Train Further”.