Public Support for Public Transport Declining – Conclusion not supported by Independent Research!

A report tabled by the Victorian Government’s Auditor-Generalhas found that public support for public transport has declined in the last ten years.  The report indicates that a $3 billion funding injection is now required to fix the Victorian transport network of trams, trains and buses.

This conclusion is not supported by independent research which shows the demand for public transport has steadily increased over this time and car usage is declining.

However, it is certainly true that give the uncoordinated nature of our public transport network public confidience in Melbourne’s transport network is declining.

In fact, we need to be alert a decline in commuter confidience is not a lack of support for public transport – these are two different things.

The following is a summary from the Age Article by Adam Carey, “Public transport needs billions”.  March 1, 2012. 

The report cites the following reasons for the decline in user confidence in public transport:

  • On-going poor management and planning.
  • Public transport failed to meet government “performance standards” an issue specific to trains.
  • The Transport Department has not ”effectively managed the rapid growth in public transport patronage between 2004 and 2009.
  • The Transport Department lacked the capacity to predict growth in usage or identify reasons for “poor performance”.
  • The response to the “declining performance” was ”partial and uncoordinated”,
  • Co-ordination between “transport modes” (buses/trains/trams) is poor.
  • The department “failed ….  to measure how the system served passengers who relied on more than one mode”.
  • Public transport has “become more expensive”.
  • Government subsidies to transport providers have escalating in the “past five years”

The report cites demand for public transport will growby about 70 per cent in the next decade and estimates it needs “$30 billion for new infrastructure such as tracks and trains to cope – which would require a tripling of today’s capital spending”.

Not all transport experts agree with the assessment that an additional $30 billion in funding is required.  Both Paul Mees (Rmit) and Graham Currie (Monash University) have alternative perspectives.

To quote Paul Mees who rejects the notion that vast amounts of funding is required:

”There has been an enormous increase in subsidies in the last decade, and also a significant increase in fares,” Dr Mees said.  ”Now, the community is entitled to expect that things would be better as a result of that increased expenditure ….  it is possible to run a rail system where everything is not brand new provided that you have really pro-active inspection, repair and replacement regimes.”

To read the full article go to:

freda watkin, ycat