Politics and activism PTUA transport

Voting for PT

So how am I voting tomorrow? No comment.

But I will tell you what I know about the policies on my pet topic:

The Greens, as you might expect, have the best, most comprehensive public transport policy (though it’s not flawless by any means). Of course, we all know they are unlikely to be forming a government next week… though there’s a slim chance they might hold the balance of power, and therefore have a strong influence on policy.

The Libs’ public transport policy is stronger than the ALP’s, by a country mile. Feasibility studies (though not actual construction money just yet) for rail lines to Doncaster, Rowville, Melbourne Airport and Avalon Airport (the latter being a questionable priority), funding for new trains, Southland station, and perhaps most importantly, an independent Public Transport Development Authority to better plan, manage and co-ordinate the whole network. Its independence would allow it to advocate for and implement change at arms length from the politicians.

Frankston line, 11:50pm Friday night by Daniel Bowen, on Flickr (It's a myth that nobody uses the trains at night)

If the Libs’ policy has a major failing, it’s thinking that putting armed guards onto stations is the best solution to grow patronage at night. Security is an issue, but that’s putting all your eggs in one basket (and is a disproportionate response at most locations), when the biggest problems are a lack of services — making people wait way longer than they’d rather at stations and tram/bus stops. And the Libs are not shying away from the kind of massive road projects that will cut through neighbourhoods, swallowing billions of dollars for little tangible benefit to traffic congestion.

Both the major parties have largely ignored trams and buses. Perhaps this is not surprising, given the profile the train system has in comparison, but it’s short-sighted. Some suburbs of Melbourne will never have trains. It’s therefore critical that tram lines be extended where appropriate, and for other areas, Smartbuses (with the evening and weekend frequencies, and traffic priority all fixed) be implemented.

It’s ironic that Martin Pakula was yesterday talking-up Smartbus, but Labor has no plans for new routes. They are going to fix route 703, which is a Smartbus but doesn’t meet the Smartbus standards.

The ALP’s policy, by the way, isn’t devoid of content. Southland station, more trains to Geelong, lots more station staff, and a (bus, not rail) fix for the very embarrassing Huntingdale/Monash University bus overcrowding problem.

But it’s the Libs’ Public Transport Development Authority that really puts them ahead in this game. If it is implemented properly, with smart cookies on staff and the right powers, it would identify all the shortcomings of the network, seek the funding, then have the ability to fix them, much like VicRoads advocates for the roads it believes should be built.

Of course I don’t expect everybody to consider PT the one thing above all else that determines their vote. But it is clear that this time around, it’s up there as a key issue.

Happy voting. And hope you find a good sausage sizzle!

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

8 replies on “Voting for PT”

The definition of insanity- performing the same action over and over again, and expecting a different result! After 11 years, our infrastructure has fallen behind, water will shoot up in cost due to the desalt plant, electricity bills going up, $11.5 billion wasted on cost over-runs on projects such as FastRail, EastLink, Desal Plant, and particularly one of your pet peeves, myki, spin masters and consultants, it is time for a change! Those people calling for change after 11 years of Howard are hypocrites if they don’t express the same sentiment for Bracksby! Even by your admission Daniel, the Coalition has the better PT policy of the major parties! Which party is in the better position to affect these policies?
Wake up Victoria, we can do so much better than what we’ve had for 11 years! The only way we’ll get any change is to send the message and turf Brumby out! If they haven’t listened after 11 years, what makes you think they’ll start now? Another spin unit will be deployed to satisfy the masses!

Hmm. So does Paul Mees get credit for the solution to the Monash problem, since he uses it as the opening of his new book? If so, I’d suspect he was angling for a job at Monash, except of course that he’d go crazy trying to commute there.

@Jarrett, Paul’s book may have had some influence. But, and I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet here, I think the catalyst was the PTUA getting it highlighted in The Age — from memory the print version had a photo similar to these — I’m a firm believer in photographic evidence in the mainstream media being one of the best ways to force action on these types of things.

Greens I think are better. The Coalition would not complete the lines to Rowville Doncaster and Airports until maybe around the 2014 election. Labor a bit too soft
.New Stations(Labor)
.Caroline Springs
.Williams Landing(Point Cook)
.South Morang

Coalition extensions
Geelong-Ballarat line

Greens extensions
.Knox tram extension

If the 703 is a smartbus, why does it drive off when I get off the train, just before I get to the stop? Can it not read the display at the bus-stop which shows the train from the city arriving “NOW”? This behaviour changes a 55 minute trip from home the city to an 85 minute trip.
Even a 15 minute bus-service is only a minor improvement, if they don’t make any attempt to connect with trains…

You might want to have a look at the University of NSW’s situation as a case study. Express buses between Sydney’s Central Station and the University in Kensington (about 5km) run as frequently as every 60 seconds during the very high peak from 830 to 900AM on weekdays. See and look up route numbers 891-895.
Apparently, there’s about 7000 pax per day using these express buses, plus another 8000 using other regular routes to get to UNSW (

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