Green groups have criticised today’s State Budget for its excessive focus on extra road and freeway construction.
The State’s transport budget strongly favors roads over public transport, with $600 million allocated to new roads and freeways and only $150 million for new public transport. The big ticket items for roads are $445 million for the Scoresby Freeway and $62 million for arterial road upgrades.
“The Scoresby Freeway is unnecessary, environmentally destructive and a waste of tax payers’ money,” said Environment Victoria’s Transport Campaigner, John McPherson. “The government should improve public transport first. With better public transport we would not need to spend
hundreds of millions of dollars on new freeways and maintain a liveable city.”
Spending for public transport will include $96 million to electrify the Broadmeadows suburban rail line to Craigieburn and $30.5 million for a tram extension along Burwood Highway towards Knox City (to Vermont South). Higher quality bus services are also planned for Springvale Road
and Blackburn Road in the outer East.
“People in the outer suburbs have made it very clear that they want better public transport,” said John McPherson. “The government’s plans for new public transport in the outer suburbs are a welcome step, but more is needed. It seems that the $100 million bailout of the private sector public transport operators, forced on the government two months ago, has reduced the ability of the Minister to spend wisely.”
For regional Victoria, the Budget contains one pleasing initiative in further upgrading of the Warrnambool rail line. Work on the Regional Train Project continues and rail service re-openings to Mildura, Leongatha, Bairnsdale and Ararart are proceeding slowly.
“Now the government must require the private operator of the Warrnambool rail service (West Coast Railways) to upgrade speeds and service frequencies to enable this country rail line to stand beside the four Fast Train corridors now in the design phase,” said John McPherson.
An additional $8 million will also be spent on improving rural bus services.
“Bus services in rural and regional Victoria remain inadequate in frequency and coverage,” said John McPherson. “Eight million dollars is simply not enough to give rural Victorians the bus service they deserve.”