Friday, 5 November 2010

Let’s do public transport properly

Waiting for a better public transport system - PTUA photograph

The seat of Melbourne is home to some of Victoria’s most critical – and iconic – public transport lines and hubs including Flinders Street Station, Southern Cross Station, the City Loop and Melbourne’s famous tram network.

But even within the Melbourne electorate, the public transport system is running down. At Newmarket station in peak period there were 18 trains to the city in 1929, and today there are 12. At South Kensington there were 16, but today there are 10. That pattern of rundown and neglect is true across the network.

The woeful state of the current system is unacceptable and immediate action is required. We need a public transport system that can respond to a growing population and offer a real alternative to car use.

The Greens have a six point plan to fix public transport:

  1. End the failed privatisation experiment

Under privatisation, costs have dramatically increased, performance is appalling and planning is chaotic. No one is accountable for the system as a whole.

  1. Establish a powerful, accountable Public Transport Authority (PTA)

The Greens will create a publicly accountable PTA modeled on successful agencies like Translink in Vancouver, ZVV in Zurich and Australia’s own Transperth.

  1. Fix urgent problems

Expert task forces will act now to increase capacity, review ticketing, plan for expansion and establish the PTA.

  1. Make public transport safe

Staff all train stations from first train to last, bring back tram conductors, fence rail lines and fix level crossings.

  1. Extend rail and tram systems

Urgently extend the rail line from South Morang to Mernda, and tram routes to East Malvern Station, Doncaster Shoppingtown and Knox City. Double-track key lines, order more trains and make better use of the existing tram fleet.

  1. Introduce ‘Swiss-style’ public transport for regional Victoria

Reform V/Line, order more high-speed trains, devise an integrated rail-bus network connecting regional Victorians to local, inter-regional and metropolitan destinations.

Public transport should be in public hands for the public good. The new Public Transport Authority will have the skills and experience needed to build great public transport. With a new agency, we can cut through the byzantine bureaucratic mess public transport users currently deal with, abolishing:

  • Director of Public Transport and the Public Transport Division of the Department of Transport
  • Transport Ticketing Authority
  • VicTrack
  • Metlink
  • Public Transport Ombudsman
  • Public Transport Customers Charter Consultative Committee

The new PTA aims to be small, smart and transparent. Public transport experts will be recruited from the best-performing agencies around the world, instead of re-assigning staff from the existing, failed bureaucracies. Based on the experience of Perth, Vancouver and Zurich, around 60 staff are required, including a dozen public transport experts. The PTA will hold public board meetings and seek community input into its plans. Public accountability is key.

Victoria has the potential for a world-class public transport system. It’s time to get started.

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  1. Hear hear!

    Oh and can MYKI be euthanised quietly and painlessly? As a tram regular, I can count on one hand the passengers that are MYKI users....

  2. Couldn't agree more. Our PT system is still suffering from decades of under funding. The ALP has used our PT system as a justification of higher densities in areas serviced by PT but has reneged on commitments to ensure our PT can cope with the increased population. The only way to fix transport congestion is to provide a decent transport system. VicRoads has had decades to bring roads up to scratch; it's PT's turn.