The Covid-19 pandemic has put a huge strain on our economy, putting almost 1 million Australians out of work. But though investing in several small-scale transport projects across Victoria, and starting on longer term public transport infrastructure, the Daniel Andrews government has an opportunity to bolster the economy and make smart interventions in building a sustainable Victoria. The transport sector is the second largest and fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Victoria, and a key leverage point to reduce emissions.
Accessibility for people living with disabilities should be at the heart of all transport infrastructure, and should be made an urgent priority. Making stations and stops accessible also increases space, making it easier for everyone to socially distance. Shovel-ready projects that have already been prioritised or started by the government must be resumed. Public transport is an essential service key to making cities more accessible and liveable. Most of these measures can be rolled out by state governments but would be bolstered by federal spending.
- Accelerated rollout of accessible platform tram stops and procurement of modernised E-class trams to ensure accessibility for all Victorians with access issues.
- Support and fund immediate implementation of pop-up cycling and walking facilities, as a trial run for more permanent infrastructure to be added later}
- Boost funds to construct and maintain walking and cycling paths and immediately fund all cycle paths with development approval. Fund plans that already exist such as those done by RACV, Bicycle Network Victoria, the City of Melbourne, the City of Ballarat, and other local council plans. Ensure safe and secure bike parking at stations and activity centres. Walking and riding is a safe and healthy option for people to access essential services.
- Implement traffic calming measures in tandem with cycle paths and public transport priority to boost safety for vulnerable road users and improve public transport operational efficiency. In some cases this may form part of urban revitalisation projects and can provide additional space for physical distancing.
- Begin preparatory work for Melbourne Metro 2 which will unlock key hubs, create jobs and increase capacity across the Melbourne rail network.|
- Stimulate the manufacturing of electric buses that will revamp local manufacturing jobs.
- Re-organise and reroute bus routes to make them more efficient and effective (revenue neutral or positive). Upgrade the bus network by increasing bus services along major and popular transport routes with ‘turn up and go’ frequencies, providing traffic priority measures to cut delays and boost fleet efficiency, as well as identify and service underserviced areas. This will unlock potential for people to easily get to work or study and participate in and contribute more to society.
- Include regional centres in bus upgrades. Specifically, implement the PTUA’s Connecting Ballarat plan, and comparable frequency and span upgrades to other regional cities.
- Prioritise the Melton and Wyndham Vale electrification
- including quadding of tracks to allow regional trains to bypass suburban trains
- including removal of 3 level crossings in Deer Park/Ardeer (already committed, but many years off, makes sense to bring forward and do in conjunction with the other works)
- Spread the peak by staggering work hours
- Keep frequencies of services, and eventually increase services to ensure social distancing can be practiced.
- Convert bus stops to high quality, accessible and comfortable bus shelters.
- Bring forward projects that have already been committed to such as the Baxter electrification
- Duplicate the Cranbourne Line and extension to Clyde
- Prioritise the maintenance of regional rail, especially the north-east line.
- Upgrade the Geelong rail line
- Connect the Werribee line to Regional Rail link
- Finish the Murray-Darling Basin freight project
- Fund a rolling works program to make “pop-up” bike lanes more permanent, where they have proven successful.
Build the Missing Tram Link to serve a wider range of journeys that aren’t necessarily CBD-focussed:
-Extend tram routes to allow interchange with trains and Smartbuses (e.g. tram route 6 to Ashburton, 5 to Darling, 86 to South Morang, 57 to East Keilor, 11 to Reservoir, etc),
-Extend tram routes to other major destinations (75 to Knox, 48 to Doncaster Hill, etc),
-Extend tram lines to link with other tram routes and create new route options (Burke Rd to Caulfield, 16 to High St, 72 to Doncaster Rd, Park St, tram route 58 to Camberwell Rd, 82 to Docklands).
- Update tram network to meet world’s best practice standards for convenience, reliability, comfort, accessibility and safety, by making the best use possible of existing infrastructure.
- New lightrail to the suburbs to Melbourne’s major suburban employment and activity hubs (aka National Employment and Innovation Clusters in Plan Melbourne), providing transport choices with city shaping potential enabling more diverse, affordable and sustainable housing options.
- Build Melbourne Metro 2 to increase capacity on the Mernda, and Werribee rail lines, and facilitate cross-town journeys between the North and West of Melbourne.
- Build the Airport Rail to reduce traffic on our roads and create better accessibility for people travelling to the airport.
- Build Water Sensitive Urban Design projects to mitigate increased flood risk at vulnerable train lines, tram lines, bus routes, public parks, walking and cycling paths.
- Pilot projects for “cool pavements” on freeways in the urban core to reduce the urban heat island effect.
- Investigate and support creation of urban forests and food growing
- Freight off roads and onto trains to reduce harmful diesel emissions, and congestion on our roads.
- Install electric vehicle recharging stations in more areas, both metropolitan and regional, for public and private transport. These can be integrated into the urban fabric in innovative ways, eg. as part of street light upgrades.
- Power all new transport infrastructure -- trains, trams, buses, and electric vehicle charging stations -- with renewable energy to lock-in emissions reductions and create regional jobs.
- Duplicate the Upfield line (and extension/electrification to Somerton)
- Add a new station at Campbellfield (allowing transfers between 902 Smartbus)
- Duplicate the Altona loop, Belgrave line and Lilydale line
- Continue level crossing removal program
Prioritise further duplication works on the Ballarat line (eg approximately half of the remaining single-track sections). Add extra crossing loops/duplication on the Bendigo and Shepparton lines. Add a second track and platform at Moe Station.
Long 2025- Onwards
- Build the Suburban Rail Loop, Doncaster Rail and Rowville Rail
- Fully duplicate the Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton and Traralgon lines
- Electrify regional lines and introduce faster (200-250km/h) trains. Consider using bi-mode trains for long-distance services to begin with (eg. running on electricity to Geelong, then diesel to Warrnambool).
Cancelling major toll road projects such as the $16 billion North East Link would significantly increase the Victorian Government's capacity to build more sustainable public transport.