Young campaigner setting the public transport agenda in his neighbourhood

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By Oscar Czerniecki

My name is Oscar Czerniecki. I am 16 years old and live in Bentleigh. I joined the Public Transport Not Traffic campaign at the start of this year, feeling feed up with how bad public transport is in my neighbourhood. 

As a high school student I rely on regular and reliable local bus services. However where I live, there isn’t a local bus to the major sport and aquatic centre and if you miss one you are better off walking than waiting up to an hour for the next bus.

When I heard about the East West toll road I was shocked that our political leaders have plans to waste so much money, on such an outdated form of transport.

With two thirds of Melbournians facing the obstacle of not having ready access to a train station, many people are forced to drive only adding congestion to the roads for those who really need to use them, such as emergency services and trades people. With the average car patronage being one person to a car; we can take 800 cars off the road with one train. Thriving cities around the world are investing in public transport, cycling and walking infrastructure, as a means of fixing congestion. It is not only better for the environment, but better for the economy and our health, not to mention improving our neighbourhoods.

As a volunteer with the Public Transport Not Traffic campaign I have been involved in holding street stalls and asking members of my community to sign our petition, calling on the Government to halt work on the East West toll road. I have also been out door knocking in the local area asking others in my community about their transport priorities.

At least 90% of people I have spoken to about public transport agree that it needs major improvement. And they all understand that making it an election priority is the only way to get the politicians to listen.

Along with others from my area, I was able to meet with candidates standing for the electorate of Bentleigh at the state election in November. Being able to tell these local political leaders why we should not have to wait until I am 50 years old to see our public transport network improved has been a highlight. Although it still would have been nice to meet with the current sitting member Elizabeth Miler, who disappointingly declined the invitation to meet.

I am confident that we can stop the East West toll road and see a new approach to dealing with how we get around.

Not only does our future depend on it, but our community is demanding it.

Anyone who hasn’t yet volunteered with the campaign should sign up for an event. It’s heap of fun and great to know that you are really creating change and making a difference.

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