There is huge momentum in the community, but where is the political will?
The Sustainable Cities collective have been campaigning for Better Buses for 2 solid years. During this time we have built strong, lasting relationships with and amongst community members across Melbourne’s Western suburbs, sharing powerful stories and exposing the groundswell of demand for bus reform that has long been bubbling away within communities.
Last year, we worked with Organise Us and the Public Transport Users Association to create a beautiful video series sharing voices from the West on what better buses would mean for them. We worked with local community partners to organise four community forums ahead of the state election to demand commitments from candidates to reform buses in the West if elected into office.
In May this year we held the first ever rally for bus reform on the steps of the Victorian parliament, bringing the community together to demonstrate that we care about buses and we want our government to do more for the West.
Communities have been fighting hard for better outcomes, for a more equitable transport network that will make sure we all have access to each other, and to jobs, education, and healthcare. Yet after all this effort, we are still not seeing any solid commitments from the Victorian government. We have been calling out to politicians to take action.
After no-shows from ALP candidates at all of our in-person forums in the West in 2022, there were big swings away from ALP come election time.
The message is clear, the West will not be left behind any more…
What is taking so long?
Victoria’s Bus Plan was released 2.5 years ago, and yet remains a vague framework with no clear cut goals around funding or implementing bus reform, and no hint of a plan to prioritise Melbourne’s rapidly growing Western suburbs.
In May this year the Victorian government announced changes to their process for recontracting bus companies. Rather than one-on-one negotiations, the contracts will be put out to a public tender for bus companies to bid on.
They told us that this will make bus reform easier to do, as it will eliminate the issue of having too many smaller bus companies running 1-2 routes across the network which, they said, is what has made reform difficult in the past.
However, we know that the bus company CDC Victoria - a private bus company backed by global corporation Comfort Del Gro - runs the majority of the bus routes in Melbourne’s Western suburbs, including all of the services in Wyndham. Of the 55 bus routes that they run across the network, 49 of them run out of their 3 depots in the West.
This major company has all of the capacity and capacility to reform their routes, and we know that the bus planners in the Department of Transport and Planning have the skills to execute this reform in the immediate term.
We have called the government’s bluff and now we are asking: Can the government reform CDC Victoria's routes in the West now?
Existing PTV Western suburban services & existing CDC Western suburban services:
Rapid population growth in the West is increasing the urgency of the need for better buses. Wyndham City Council has one of the fastest growing populations in the country, with 14 kids born each day. Only one year ago that number was 12.. Starting with a pilot in Wyndham immediately would serve the community, and provide the blueprint for reform to be rolled out across the city.
Many families are struggling to keep up with the cost of living crisis, and forced car dependency only makes things worse. Not only that, but a recent report has shown that our car dependent transport system is damaging our health.
We need Better Buses now so that everyone in our community can move around safely and affordably. We call on the state government to pilot a fast, frequent and connected bus system in the areas of the West that currently sit within CDC’s contract. And then - expand that system to the rest of Melbourne.
The time for Better Buses is now!