News.com.au: Australia’s public transport is a shambles — and we’ve had enough 27 October 2014
The country’s transport networks are failing commuters. Source: News Limited
Passengers on Australia’s trains, buses and trams are sick to death of terrible public transport.
From state to state, infuriated commuters are venting their anger over inadequate service at a heavy price.
Social media is now overflowing with smartphone snaps of congested stations, closed gates and “delayed” signs, showing just how broken the system has become.
And that’s if public transport is even an option in your area.
The issue is becoming increasingly urgent, with two-thirds of Australia’s population residing in a capital city last year, and the figure set to grow.
Environmental factors, parking issues and petrol prices mean people want public transport as an option.
But the Federal Government just isn’t interested, with Tony Abbott repeatedly insisting that Canberra will not underpin state and territory public transport networks.
Meanwhile, state-run systems are failing, with Brisbane losing a million bus passengers last year following $20 million in cuts from public transport funding.
Australia’s busy urban centres are falling far behind the rest of the developed world.
In cities such as New York, London and Tokyo, efficient transport systems run in a regular and largely timely fashion, with minimal cancellations and electronic boards at every stop accurately predicting arrival times.
Sydney, our most populous city, comes behind Seoul in South Korea, in a PwC report ranking public transport, and hashtag #CityFail attacking City Rail has become ubiquitous on social media.
Melbourne’s Public Transport Users Association says waits of 30 minutes to an hour for buses are common, and station car parks fill up by morning peak hour. All this at the most expensive fares for any Australian capital city.
In Perth, shadow transport minister Ken Travers said the lack of an integrated, co-ordinated transport plan had created a plague of rat runs — peak-hour shortcuts that are unable to handle heavy traffic.
And in cities with smartcard systems — brought in well after other countries — there has been widespread criticism of their failings.
Mr Abbott abolished billions in funding for urban rail projects in his Budget, focusing instead on roads, which he claimed would in turn benefit public transport.
“The commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads,” he said.
Labor funding for projects such as the Cross River Rail in Brisbane and the Melbourne Metro, was diverted to developing motorways including Melbourne’s East West Link and Sydney’s WestConnex.
But the government’s decision has been criticised as a “strategic mistake”, with a federal report calling for more balance between public transport and private car use.
Bob Nanva, National Secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, said: “State Governments of all persuasions around Australia have neglected the needs of public transport users for decades.
“They have put their focus on building bigger, better roads, and basically forgotten about rail, tram and bus networks.
“As a result our urban rail systems in particular are struggling to meet demand and services are not up to scratch
“The Federal Government has made things worse by pulling all funding out of new public transport projects and focusing exclusively on roads.
“Public transport is vital to making our cities work. It’s time Tony Abbott got over his outdated obsession with cars, and starting investing in the transport infrastructure and services that Australia desperately needs.”
We may have been a nation of drivers, but evidence shows that city commuters are in increasingly dire need of modern public transport options.
The transport minister has been approached for comment.
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