Progress in the PT debate
The PTUA’s Annual General Meeting was last night. There was some optimism amongst the committee and membership about where public transport is going since the change of government, but even before that, the political debate has been moving along nicely.
An example we talked about last night…
At a parliamentary hearing last year as part of the Train Services inquiry, the view that buses don’t connect properly with trains was flatly denied by the government.
Mr BOWEN — You will certainly find that the buses to Daylesford still connect properly with the trains at Woodend, but if you try that in any of Melbourne’s suburbs, more likely than not you will find that there is no connection and no attempt at coordinating bus and train services.
Mr VINEY — That is not right. That is just not right.
I’m not sure what planet Mr Viney is living on. Perhaps the only train/bus connection he has ever encountered in Melbourne is one of the two that are specifically coordinated. I think the rest of us fully well know that it’s not the case elsewhere — and this is a major barrier to public transport not playing a greater role, because most suburbs will never have train lines, and most trips around greater Melbourne can’t be made on one service alone.
A subsequent study showed that in fact, coordination largely doesn’t happen because nobody is responsible for it.
The debate shifted. It became generally accepted that services don’t connect. I knew this was the case when I heard Steve Price on MTR, a man who I’m betting probably doesn’t catch a lot of buses, mention it explicitly.
The government went from denial to excuses.
Mr Pakula was questioned about why the Government was unable to get bus and train times co-ordinated.
“It isnt simple to co-ordinate every bus with every time,” Mr Pakula said.
“Buses and trains run at different frequencies.”
Who’s responsible for setting the frequencies? The government of course.
But this is progress. The first step to fixing a problem is to accept there is a problem.
And the Coalition realise it. This and other campaigning this year has helped push them into supporting a Public Transport Authority. It’s not expensive, but it has a lot of potential to improve things. Provided they get it right, it’s going to be an interesting, exciting year in public transport.
As for the AGM… there were no other
suckers nominations for President, so it looks like it’s me for another year!
And a special thanks to Vaughan Williams, who is retiring from the Committee after some twelve years hard labour, and was awarded Life Membership in recognition of this.