Media release. Friends of the Earth. June 28, 2023
Train cancellations in the West demonstrate urgent need for bus network reform
The disruptions to public transport in Melbourne’s West over the coming weeks will deepen transport disadvantage, and emphasise the urgent need for immediate improvements to the bus network in the area.
While Public Transport Minister Ben Caroll has advised people to work from home if they can during this time, for many in the West that is not a possibility.
Friends of the Earth have been working for many months with communities who are facing the highest levels of transport disadvantage.
“The current transport chaos in Melbourne’s West really highlights the need for network of fast, frequent and connected buses, that can run every 10 minutes, and get communities where they need to go” said Elyse Cunningham, Coordinator of the Better Buses campaign at Friends of the Earth Melbourne “A switch to a grid network that would allow for much greater frequency is possible even with the current spending on operational costs for buses. In some areas this means that 10 times as many people could access their nearest shopping centre within half an hour”.
There are many areas of the West that have either minimal or zero access to any public transport.
“Some of the outer estates have no public transport at all. Residents in these areas who don’t drive are stuck at home or reliant on ubers, partners or friends to help them get around”
“A grid network of buses that run every 10 minutes would solve this problem. The bus network doesn’t require track work, and road work is something that buses can easily divert around”
Speaking of the most recent state budget announced in May, Cunningham says that “this was an opportunity for the government to commit to a transformation of the bus network that would enable so many people in the West to move freely around their communities at their will, but Melbourne’s West have once again left behind. In the last two budgets they haven’t spent any of the Growth Area Infrastructure Contribution on making sure people in the West have access to basic essentials, and people are struggling as a result. It’s time for the state government to show that they care about transport equity, and transform our bus network in this term of government.”