Media Releases | 11th May, 2005

Melbourne’s public transport: On the move

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Melbournians, who use the car for almost 90% of trips, must urgently increase trips made on public transport or face gridlock and serious health and environmental costs, a forum was told today.

The 20-2020 forum is being held by an alliance of groups, including Environment Victoria, the Metropolitan Transport Forum and the Planning Institute of Australia, to call for urgent action to increase patronage on Melbourne’s public transport – in order to fulfill the Government’s target that 20% of motorised trips are made by public transport by 2020.

The forum heard that:

  • Just 11% of motorised trips – excluding cycling and walking – are made on public transport. In 1981 20% of our trips to work were made on public transport.
  • Outer suburbs are being penalised up to $30 million annually because of poor public transport.
  • Of $836 million allocated for transport initiatives in the State Budget, 64% will go to roads.

Environment Victoria Executive Director Marcus Godinho said our addiction to the car was not sustainable and will ultimately mean the failure of Melbourne 2030.

“We can and should be aiming well above the 202020 target for public transport. If we do not reach this target – as an absolute minimum – the result will be a fatter, angrier, sicker and poorer Melbourne. Given that road funding outstripped spending on public transport by almost two to one in last week’s Budget the onus is on the Government to show how they can meet the 202020 promise,” said Mr Godinho.

Director of Public Transport, Department of Infrastructure Jim Betts told the forum: “At the moment 11% of motorised trips in Melbourne are taken on public transport. The Victorian Government is committed to increasing this to 20% by 2020.”

Social planner Bernadette George said residents in affordable outer areas, such as Wyndham and Whittlesea, were subsidising Melbourne’s car-based transport system up to $30 million a year: “This is due to the need for three cars, or more, per household given the lack of public transport and other feasible options such as walking or cycling.”

Transport planner William McDougall said if Melbourne failed to reduce dependence on cars, our transport infrastructure would not cope with population increases: “To meet 20% by 20020, public transport will have to carry double the patronage it does today and over three times by 2030. Buses and trams will need a lot more road space. This will require major changes in the way we use roads – car use will have to reduce by about 20% or more.”

Chair of the local government group Metropolitan Transport Forum Cr Janet Rice outlined an MTF paper on the State Budget’s poor investment in public transport.