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2015-16 State Budget Snapshot: Expand transport options

Expand transport options

The government has made a substantial investment in public transport in its 2015-16 state budget, including infrastructure projects such as the Melbourne Metro Rail and new trains. The expansion of public transport is of particular importance to low-income Victorians, as it allows people to access jobs, schools, health services and other community activities without the expense of buying and running a car. VCOSS is also pleased to see a $115 million budget investment in expanding Victoria’s bus network, which was a need highlighted in our 2015-16 State Budget Submission.

“This budget represents a substantial investment in public transport, which will help Victorians, including people experiencing disadvantage, connect to jobs, education, health and community services and participate in their communities,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.

Initiatives at a glance

  • $4.2b in a range of transport initiatives over four years, with $650m of this to be spent in 2015-16. These include:
    • $3.4b for public transport projects over four years – with $470m to flow in 2015-16. Key items include:
      • $1.5b over four years for the Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel, with a further $7.5-9.5b allocated beyond the budget forward estimates period for this project.
      • $1b over four years for new trains and trams, with a further $1b outlined for high capacity trains beyond the forward estimates period.
      • $115m over four years (including capital) for the bus package, expanding the bus network including in outer-suburban Melbourne.
      • $360m for the Caulfield-Dandenong signalling upgrade.
      • $120m for upgrades at Flinders St Station, Frankston Station and Huntingdale Bus Interchange and carpark improvements.
    • $780m for road and motoring projects over four years – with $180m to be spent in 2015-16. These are mostly for a range of road and bridge projects and upgrades, but include a number of small programs for young drivers.
  • $5b for the level crossing removal program – part of which will be allocated to 2015-16 projects, however the four-year spending profile was not specified in the budget.

Future policy directions

  • Having access to good public transport options helps people to access the opportunities around them and build meaningful lives and so VCOSS welcomes the transport investments in this budget. This investment focuses on developing the network’s core capacity to meet growing unmet and growing demand. VCOSS looks forward to working with the government in future years to examine the reach of public transport systems, and improve connectivity for those parts of Melbourne and Victoria that do not have near access to train and tram systems. These areas often include communities facing higher levels of social disadvantage, including Melbourne’s outer suburbs and rural and regional Victoria.
  • The 2015-16 state budget incorporates the previous Transport Accessibility Fund into a broader fund for road and rail minor works, at a lower funding level. VCOSS looks forward to discussing the best ways forward for improving transport accessibility with the government over future years, so a range of passengers, including people with disability, older people and those with prams and luggage, can better access public transport.
  • The budget delivers a $4m fund to help taxi plate owners in hardship. VCOSS looks forward to working with the government as part of the new ministerial advisory committee on the taxi system and the review of the Multi-Purpose Taxi Program.