Transport Minister Lyn Kosky has just quit politics, but the public transport debacle is not just her fault - it lies with the Labor government (and preceeding Liberal governments) that have spent far too little on new trains, tracks and better services.
The perennial low budget allocation for public transport compared to roads is the major reason that public transport infrastructure is now groaning to keep up with demand.
Over three million more people now live in Melbourne than when the train network was built - and the last new train line constructed in 1930 - the Glen Waverley line.
Far too little is allocated to serious improvements in sustainable transport infrastructure such as:
- New train tracks to suburbs not currently serviced by trains - such as the planned (but never delivered) Rowville (servicing Monash Uni) and Doncaster lines.
- Turning Melbourne's slow and inefficient tram network into a faster more efficient light rail network that is not impeded by traffic
- Safe and direct bike paths to provide commute and recreational riding within suburbs and to central Melbourne - with proper signposting
- A metro for inner Melbourne to take the load off congested CBD streets - linking Richmond, Fitzroy, Carlton, Melbourne University, North Melbourne, South Melbourne
- Undergrounding several CBD trams to free up streets for pedestrians and street life.
- Return public transport to public ownership and operation. The current blame game and lack of accountability for service delivery and quality - between Government and private operators - must stop.
Martin Pakula, a unionist before he entered politics, is now the Minister for Public Transport. Don't hold your breath for any rapid improvements to public transport - or shift in the Brumby government's priority focus on roads and freeways.
With climate change upon us, it is to be hoped that this situation will turn around so Melbourne's residents have convenient and effective climate friendly transport options available.