22 November 2011

What's your take on Ted and Terry's progress?

According to The Age, "plans to solve Victoria's public transport woes proceed at a glacial pace, despite all the election promises." What do you think?

Read the story here

IT IS not too much of a stretch to argue that public transport delivered Premier Ted Baillieu and his team government.

Certainly, a review of last November's state election for Labor by federal MP Alan Griffin told the story that Mr Baillieu might wisely heed now: public transport was a vote-switching issue from Labor to the Coalition for more than a quarter of voters.

So perhaps the most surprising aspect of Mr Baillieu's first year in the job has been the glacial pace at which he and Transport Minister Terry Mulder appear to have tackled Victoria's transport problems.

Mr Baillieu, for instance, devoted much of his pre-election campaign launch to promising a new European-style public transport authority, to fix the problems ''as quickly as we can''. A year after that speech, the authority has only just been legislated. It is still months off doing anything.

And it appears unlikely to revolutionise transport planning in the state; it remains unclear from the legislation how it will achieve its promise to ''improve services, safety and co-ordinate with other aspects of the public transport system''.

Technically, though, establishing the authority is a promise fulfilled - even if those who take a train, tram or bus every day still see little difference.

Similarly, promises to begin work on feasibility studies on rail lines to Avalon, Doncaster, Melbourne Airport and Rowville have been fulfilled.

But it appears there remains little of the enthusiasm that Mr Baillieu showed at the election-eve launch for the Doncaster rail line proposal. ''It's a great day for Doncaster,'' he said. ''We intend to plan it, find the funds, and then build it.''

Since then, little has been heard of the rail line, with a planning study to begin assessing route options in October. It will finalise its work in 2013.

Problems with Melbourne's rail system, however, have subsided in recent months, following a major timetable rewrite by Metro in May, which made it easier to run trains on time.

It also launched a handful of extra trains each day on most lines (the opposition argues many run in the wrong direction) but the problems of crumbling railway infrastructure have not disappeared.

Problems with myki have also not been fully resolved. After six months making up its mind, the Baillieu administration decided in June to keep the smartcard, but at a greater cost than Labor agreed to.

The streamlining means myki will be simpler and more reliable. But it has introduced other problems, including the removal of single-use public transport tickets once Metcard is switched off next December.

But in some areas of transport, the Baillieu government did move quickly.

Just 12 days after winning the election, an energised Premier strode down High Street in Prahran and removed the first of the Brumby government's clearways signs that so enraged inner-city traders. Other signs around inner Melbourne were quickly replaced with the old clearway times.

Similarly, a taxi inquiry established to grapple with the issues besetting Victoria's taxi industry that had been left to fester under Labor won praise.

The government also quickly signed a contract with French train maker Alstom to build seven new trains for Melbourne, adding to 38 ordered by Labor, 29 of which are already here.

The state this month handed its wishlist to Canberra for projects it wants funded, including an 18-kilometre freeway under inner Melbourne, and a metro rail tunnel proposed by the Brumby government.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/slow-slow-quick-quick-slow-its-baillieus-traffic-dance-20111121-1nqyl.html

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