Media release. Friends of the Earth. November 4, 2022
Coalition promise on buses welcomed but more detail needed
Today's promise by the Victorian Coalition of a $160 million, 4-year package to improve bus services across Victoria, including Melbourne’s west, is welcome news for families that desperately need better public transport. But, much more detail is needed to see if this is truly a start to rebuild our slow and convoluted suburban bus routes into a 21st century network.
“We call on all parties to make clear commitments to take bold action to deliver the fast, frequent and connected bus services that will get more people out of their cars. It is time to reimagine Melbourne’s broken bus system as a simple grid network of clean electric buses that connects people to vital services and social support, and gets them to work on time on weekdays and on weekends” said Elyse Cunningham, Friends of the Earth's Sustainable Cities Community Organiser.
“We know that the ALP has hinted at big changes in its Bus Reform Plan. This is not enough. We need firm commitments and we are calling on them to commit to getting a modern bus network in place in the west in the next term of government” said Elyse.
While it’s good that one of the major parties has recognised the vital importance of public transport in the western suburbs, what we truly need is a transformation of the entire network to get communities out of their cars and onto public transport. Incremental changes to our existing network will not will not shift people’s behaviour, as the bus network maintains its reputation for being unreliable when it still runs along long, convoluted lines.
“What we need is Transformational change. A switch to 100% electric buses, on a simple grid with 10 minute frequencies is the only thing that will get people out of their cars and onto public transport, and in turn reduce emissions and car traffic congestion simultaneously”.
With the state government’s commitment to reduce emissions by 75% to 80% (on 2005 levels) by 2035, whoever wins at the November election will need to set meaningful emissions reduction targets for all sectors, including transport, in early 2023. Commiting to 100% electric buses, on a simple grid with 10 minute frequencies would get the government well towards meeting the sectoral reduction needed for the transport sector.
“Unfortunately no one from the ALP was able to attend any of the three candidates forums held over the past month by Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s Sustainable Cities collective. But now there is a great opportunity for them to make the announcement that the West is waiting for, and tell us how they plan to transform the bus network. Even the Liberals are willing to commit funding to Victoria’s bus network, so we really need to hear what Labor has planned” said Elyse.
“Will Labor commit to 100% electric buses by 2030?, and will they transform the network to a fast, frequent, connected grid that will enhance communities' access to local services, each other, and essential services like jobs, education and healthcare? We hope to hear soon whether the ALP will be making some solid commitments to funding the bus network ahead of this year’s election on November 26”.