Stakeholder and interest group commentary on the State Budget usually happens out the back of Parliament. And when it starts raining, everybody huddles under the shelter near the back door.
Here’s my State Budget summary — well, the PT bits:
Four new stations on existing lines to be built — Caroline Springs (V/Line), Williams Landing, Lynbrook and Pakenham Lakeside. Not before time.
Fifty new trams, and a depot upgrade. Probably mostly replacements for the worst of the Z-class trams, and the 5 borrowed Bumblebees (though the new ones will start showing up well after they’ve gone home). So this will provide more capacity, but not higher frequency — though it’s capacity which is the bigger problem at peak times.
Extra station staff — twenty stations upgraded to Premium (fulltime staff), twenty-two to Host (peak-hour only staff). A good step forward, though still about half of all Melbourne stations still won’t have any staff in the evenings, which is when people are most nervous about using the trains.
- New Premium stations: Seaford, Parkdale, Hallam, Prahran, Holmesglen, Upwey, Ormond, Westall, Chelsea, Windsor, Newmarket, Moonee Ponds, Hoppers Crossing, Carnegie, North Brighton, Lalor, Ginifer, East Richmond, Northcote, Highett
- New Host stations: Spotswood, West Footscray, Royal Park, Merlynston, Oak Park, Glenbervie, Strathmore, Pascoe Vale, Kensington, Tottenham, Canterbury, Burwood, Hawthorn, Gardiner, Dennis, Regent, Rosanna, Toorak, Hughesdale, Hawksburn, Sandown Park, McKinnon
Buses? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Apart from a handful of regional inter-town links designed strictly for people who don’t have any other way of getting around, there are no new bus upgrades at all. So if you’re in a bus-only suburb, out of reach of trains and trams, with your local bus that runs every 30-60 minutes, and thus stuck with driving everywhere, expect no change there.
(Some Smartbus projects are still being completed, but the Budget is all about new funding, not existing. Given how well Smartbus upgrades work, somewhat annoying not a single new one got funding.)
Spin? Ho yeah. The government managed to re-announce the Regional Rail Link project, the $4.3 billion diversion of the Geelong line via Tarneit, Deer Park and Sunshine, which was mostly funded by the Federal government in last year’s Federal budget. I guess the state gets to claim it because they’re money-laundering the Feds’ money. Neat.
(When completed, RRL should reduce delays to Geelong, Ballarat, and Bendigo line trains, though a lot of the detail is still missing, for instance how long the trip from Geelong will take, and whether those trains will have to stop at the new stations in the Tarneit area.)
The other snippet that came out was that they don’t expect Myki to be running on trams until September, perilously close to the state election.