Sunday, October 03, 2010

bus review delivers little for yarra ranges

report from the roundtable – 28 sep

As part of this week’s council meeting I moved the following motion:
That Council write to the Minister for Public Transport, the Honourable Martin
Pakula MP, with a copy to local state MPs, requesting that all bus services in the Shire of Yarra Ranges be immediately upgraded to the minimum standards outlined in Meeting Our Transport Challenges 2006 and request that immediate funding be allocated in conjunction with a definitive timeframe that will deliver the recommendations of the Yarra Ranges Bus Service Review as a priority.

I was moved to raise the issue of the Yarra Ranges Bus Service Review after reading a report from BusVic which indicated that only 5% of the recommendations from the Knox/Maroondah/Yarra Ranges Bus Service Review had been implemented. The lowest across Melbourne.

It was with a fair degree of frustration that I talked about this issue. We keep hearing from government that buses are the answer for the East, a message that has been repeated by the Minister himself and Brian Tee (Parliamentary Secretary for Transport). But clearly if buses are the answer, they need to be funded.

The 5% delivery of recommendations is woeful and continues to confirm the neglect for people in the east when it comes to public transport.

There has been no strategic transport planning for the East, it’s hard to know how government has come to the conclusion that only buses are the answer when the detail hasn’t been looked at in any meaningful way.

After a question from Greens MLC Greg Barber, the Minister for Public Transport, Martin Pakula, advised that it would cost $200million to deliver every bus service review recommendation across all of Melbourne. Given the billions spent on freeways and myki, $200million is a very small part of a very large budget. The current growth in funding at $5million per year only funds 15 buses shared between 31 municipalities, a drop in the ocean in terms of providing good bus services across Melbourne.

The motion also asks for all buses in Yarra Ranges to be upgraded to the minimum standard outlined in the 2006 Meeting Our Transport Challenges (at least an hourly service, till 9pm, 7 days a week). So many of our buses are below standard, making public transport travel difficult and building in a reliance on motor cars because we don’t have options.

I have to wonder why community expectations were raised in the Bus Service Reviews, held in four quarters of the shire, people inputting their time to tell their story and outline substantial changes to make buses more user friendly. If the community knew they were only going to get a 5% outcome I’m sure they wouldn’t have bothered.

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