Thursday, 19 October 2023


Public transport


Public transport

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan) (18:28): (532) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public and Active Transport Gabrielle Williams, to whom I extend my congratulations on her recent appointment to this portfolio. A couple of weeks ago I attended a ball – a Bus Ball in fact – to celebrate Transport Equity Week. I donned my good gear and, together with a group of like-minded public transport devotees, hopped on the number 220 bus to Sunshine, and what a fine time we had of it. But of course for most residents in the Western Metropolitan Region getting around the western suburbs on buses is no fun at all; it is a nightmare. This is not the first time I have broached this subject – nor, I note, my colleague Trung on a similar theme. There is a dearth of transport options in the west. We know that reliable, affordable and accessible public transport is essential for promoting productivity and inclusion and reducing pollution and congestion. It allows people to access employment and education, health services, shops, entertainment and social activities. The lack of public transport in the west forces people to rely on cars, with households needing multiple vehicles to get around, creating enormous financial stress on families and increasing congestion and pollution. Those who do not have access to private transport face long and unpredictable travel times and often unbearable wait times for public transport. Buses would be a good alternative, but they do not operate in the evening or on Sundays, and during peak times the average wait time for a bus in the Western Metropolitan Region is 40 minutes.

Matthew Bach: 40 minutes!

David Ettershank: Yes, 40 minutes. With the fastest growing population in the state, the public transport system in the west is being pushed to the brink. The Better Buses for Melbourne’s West report offers solutions to the public transport malaise in the west. It was developed by Melbourne University’s Melbourne Centre for Cities and proposes replacing the current network with an entirely new grid. It is not a major infrastructure project that will cost tens of billions to implement or years to construct. This is restructuring an already existing bus network for little cost, which would dramatically improve accessibility and wait times for more than a million people in Melbourne’s west. Real benefits in real time for minimal cost – what’s not to love?

We have been told by the public transport minister’s office that bus network reform cannot take place until the recontracting process is complete, as it consolidates multiple routes across a single contract. However, in the west a single bus company, CDC, runs 49 of the routes, covering large swathes of areas with the worst services. For example, a simple rerouting in the Hoppers Crossing area would increase accessibility by a staggering 1155 per cent. The action I seek is that the minister approve a pilot of the new bus network grid for the CDC-contracted routes based on the Better Buses for Melbourne’s West plan.