Funds – and not just facelifts – must be given to improve Melbourne’s public transport system – particularly buses, said Victoria’s peak green group.
Just $15 million has been spent since 1999 on improving bus services, which represents just $1 for every Melbournian each year. In comparison $22 million is currently being spent on new signage for public transport.
“Melbourne commuters want an improved, reliable public transport system, not just makeovers. Signage is important, but this figure highlights what a raw deal services are given,” said Environment Victoria’s transport campaigner Cathy McNaughton.
She said buses were the weakest link in Melbourne’s public transport, with $44 million needed from the 2005 State Budget (each year for four years) for new and more reliable bus services and new smart buses.
“Just $4 million over four years would be enough to give new smart buses to those suburbs that rely on buses as a lifeline. While most Melbournians rely on buses as their only public transport option, services are infrequent and unreliable.”
A new survey conducted by Environment Victoria on two bus routes around the Epping area showed 83% of bus users did not own a car and had limited transport alternatives to buses, with many not in paid work.
“The survey showed how Melbourne desperately needs reliable and frequent buses. In particular we need new bus services, both local and cross-town smart buses, and expansion of existing services to evenings and weekends.”
Buses are the only form of public transport available to 60% of Melburnians. One in eight Melbourne households do not have access to a car.
“Poor public transport creates unnecessary driving, especially where it hasn’t kept pace with urban growth in outer suburbs. It means people choose to drive. Driving hits the environment hard, with greenhouse emissions spiralling. It hits the back pocket with rising petrol prices. And it’s creating a city of road ragers, as we all battle with congestion.
“Bus services need to be good enough to attract more drivers out of their cars.
“Cross-town smart bus routes are long overdue and four complete routes should be funded in this Budget. Treasury must ensure our public transport network addresses the complex travel patterns of a 21st century population.”