Media Releases | 16th Jun, 2004

Poor public transport risks suburban wastelands

Thursday, 17 June 2004

Melbourne will have suburban wastelands of high levels of unemployment, obesity, depression and pollution if the State Government fails to improve public transport, a five-sector coalition of peak Victorian bodies has warned.

The Coalition for People’s Transport, who today released their plan for the future of public transport, said many suburbs across Melbourne – particularly in growth corridors such as Wyndham, Casey and Hume – had skeleton public transport. This had seen:

students frequently miss university or forced to hitch-hike a lift to campus;

a rise in obesity and depression in suburbs reliant on cars; and

levels of greenhouse emissions increase by 2 per cent each year.

The Coalition includes groups from community, health, environment, disability and local government. It is calling on the State Government to incorporate its key recommendations in the Metropolitan Travel Plan, due to be released in the next few weeks and which will provide a blueprint for the future of Melbourne’s entire transport network.

The Coalition’s recommendations to improve the availability, affordability, accessibility, and safety of public transport include:

better planning to ensure public transport is available to new subdivisions;

increase the number of customer service staff to deter crime, vandalism and fare evasion and improve safety;

expansion of train networks to such lines as the Epping, Upfield, Craigieburn, east Doncaster, Rowville, Cranbourne, Sunbury, Melton and Frankston.

Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive officer Cath Smith said suburbs poorly serviced by public transport were also the most economically disadvantaged.

“Households in Melbourne’s poorest suburbs have the highest rates of car ownership. In these suburbs, people are either missing out on jobs and education or spending more than they can afford on cars. The State Government must meet its Melbourne 2030 commitment to create suburbs where everyone has opportunities to access employment and services,” she said.

VicHealth CEO Dr Rob Moodie said “suburbs that rely only on cars are more likely to make people fatter, sicker, lonelier and probably more depressed”.

“Well-connected communities with strong social networks are more likely to benefit from lower crime figures, better health, higher educational achievement and better economic growth. We are what we plan,” said Dr Moodie.

Environment Victoria transport campaigner Cathy McNaughton said the Metropolitan Travel Plan must reduce car emissions, with Australia’s greenhouse emissions from road transport growing at 2 per cent a year.

“With the price of petrol skyrocketing and oil demand soon set to outweigh supply, the smart thing to do is switch to walking, cycling and public transport. In the State Budget public transport was ignored, with $422 million for roads. This is not good enough, especially when Melbourne 2030 promises transport 400m from your door.”

For the full Coalition for People’s Transport report, click here.

For the summary of the report, click here.