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Dear Premier Napthine, 

Victoria needs great transport networks to compete and grow. Every Victorian deserves great transport.

Since the 1950s we’ve built lots of new roads, but not much public transport. We’ve added the City Loop, a few line extensions and upgrades, some bus routes, and now we’re adding Regional Rail Link. 

In 1950 Victoria’s population was 2.2 million, 1.3 million of them in Melbourne. Now Victoria has 5 million, 4 million in Melbourne. 

In the 1950s there were 108 suburban train arrivals at Flinders St Station in the busiest hour. Today there are 114 arrivals, or 5% more trains, despite many more passengers, and many others who’d use a train if they had one. That’s why our trains are packed. 

Victoria's rail network is virtually falling apart after half a century of neglect. Lines are constantly suspended because of failed equipment. This must be urgently fixed, to help both public transport users and motorists. One train can take 800 cars off the roads, freeing up road space for those who really do need to drive, like tradies, truckies and families with carloads of kids and shopping. 

There are no trains or trams in two-thirds of Melbourne. Just buses every 40 or 50 minutes, and nothing after 7pm or on Sundays. Outside Melbourne, it’s hard to survive without a car. This is unfair. 

It’s time to squeeze more service out of our existing public transport, and expand it to match rapid population growth.

We believe this is a much more urgent priority than the East-West toll road. 

  • We need modern, high-capacity train signaling, so we can run up to 50% more trains on the current network. 
  • We need new railway lines to the Airport, Monash-Rowville, Doncaster, Clyde and Mernda, and track upgrades elsewhere.
  • We need bus, tram and train services to connect, and buses to run in the evening and on weekends. 
  • We need more comfortable, efficient new trains, trams and buses, and new and upgraded stations
  • We need to get rid of the most clogged and dangerous level crossings.
  • We need to get cracking on Melbourne Metro, so we’re ready for the billion public transport trips expected in 2031. 

The East West toll road is diverting attention from these priorities, as well as proper maintenance of existing roads, new roads in growth areas, and making walking and cycling safer and more enjoyable. Inner Melbourne is already rich in transport resources. 

All our city freeways were meant to fix congestion, but one by one they’ve filled up with traffic and slowed to a crawl. How long before we realise this approach isn’t working? We’ll only fix congestion with great alternatives to driving for all Victorians. 

With manufacturing in decline, Victoria urgently needs new jobs. Public transport projects create about twice as much employment as highway projects. These are high-quality jobs that will be the cornerstone of our transforming economy. Public transport is also better for our environment and health. Polls all show the public would rather have great public transport than another motorway.

Your government was elected promising to fix public transport. Please honour this promise, and start funding a fair transport system for all Victorians that gets the state moving. Yes it is “all about better public transport and better roads”. But let’s have more train, tram and bus services first, fix the roads we’ve got, and boost walking and cycling before we spend billions on another toll road. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dr Tony Morton, PTUA President

 

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