Media Releases | 6th Jan, 2006

Time to put budget surplus to work on Melbourne’s public transport

Friday, 6 January 2006

Part of the estimated $11.5 billion Federal surplus should be invested in Melbourne’s public transport system, which fails to reach two thirds of the city’s residents, says the Coalition for People’s Transport.

The coalition of environment, welfare and transport users groups is calling on both the Federal and State governments to invest in urgent upgrades to Melbourne’s public transport system.

A recent Griffith University study, ‘Oil Vulnerability in the Australian City’, revealed that a larger number of Melbourne households were vulnerable to rising petrol prices than in Sydney or Brisbane because of our city’s poor public transport options.

The coalition has warned against any cuts to fuel taxes or excise. “The current budget windfall must be invested in infrastructure that offers more energy-efficient transport options to more people’’ Environment Victoria sustainable transport campaigner Louise Sales said.

“At a time of skyrocketing petrol prices and increasing climate change concerns, Melbournians urgently need alternatives to the car or our city will grind to a halt.’’

Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) CEO Cath Smith said: “After two years of platitudes about the impact of high petrol prices on Australian families, it’s time the Federal Government helped ease the pain by providing decent public transport options.’’

“The latest set of national accounts clearly show that families and businesses are suffering because of our current addiction to petrol,’’ Ms Smith said.

PTUA spokesman Alex Makin said the Federal Government had committed to spend half a billion dollars in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs on the Eastlink freeway prior to the Bracks Government’s decision to introduce tolls.

“The Howard Government should not use tolls as an excuse to abandon residents in Melbourne’s outer east to car dependency and high petrol prices. It should honor its funding commitment to these people by helping fund rail extensions to Rowville, Knox, East Doncaster and Baxter.’’