This 2016 Victorian Budget funds a number of large scale transport projects and procurements, which provides a long-term pipeline of infrastructure projects, with associated employment and economic benefits. There is also some funding for additional public transport services, mostly focussed on additional train services.
While the $10.9b Metro Rail Tunnel project was included in last year’s budget, the government has announced that this will proceed without a Commonwealth funding commitment.
This budget includes over $10.3b of new transport expenditure, with over $9.5b being capital expenditure. $5.2b has been allocated over the next four years, with the remainder either unphased or beyond the forward estimates.
Because of the inclusion of the Western distributor in this budget, 62 per cent of new transport funding allocations are for roads.
Initiatives at a glance
- $5.5b of capital expenditure for the Western Distributor. This road tunnel under Yarraville will connect the West Gate Freeway with CityLink and the Port of Melbourne
- An additional $650.6m for other metropolitan roads. This includes projects to duplicate Yan Yean Road and Thompsons Road, and streamline Hoddle Street.
- $260.6m for regional roads. This funding includes the Drysdale Bypass.
- $1.9b for metropolitan public transport. Including building the Mernda Rail link, an additional 28 high capacity trains, and upgrading the Hurstbridge rail corridor.
- $1.3b for regional public transport. Including upgrade the Ballarat line by duplicating the line to Melton, and purchasing 27 new VLocity carriages.
The budget papers also show:
- Some of the additional operational funding is for additional public transport services, with $131m for additional V/Line services over 4 years, $35m over four years for additional metropolitan train services, and $25m over four years for additional bus services.
- Train passengers are growing faster than the population, especially in regional Victoria, with metropolitan train passengers expected to rise 2.9 per cent his financial year, and 3.1 per cent next; and regional train and coach passengers are expected to rise 21 per cent this financial year, and 8.8 per cent next year.
- Tram passengers are also expected to grow strongly, with a 7.1 per cent increase projected this financial year, due to introduction of the free tram zone, with lower 2.6 per cent growth expected next financial year.
- Bus passengers have been sluggish, with a 3.2 per cent fall this financial year in the metropolitan area, expected to rebound by a 3.7 per cent rise next year. Regional bus passengers are expected to grow by 1.4 per cent this year, and 2.7 per cent next.
Future policy directions
- The capacity for people with disability to move freely in their lives is fundamental to their ability to live with dignity and meaning. Being able to move freely means people can reach valuable destinations, including for employment, education, healthcare, community services, and to engage in social relationships and community activity. Accessibility upgrades have not been specifically funded in this budget, but more generally upgrades to train stations should incorporate additional accessibility features, and there is continued purchase of new trams and tram stop upgrades. Procurement of new trains should incorporate improved accessibility features.
- The Government has been reviewing the Multi-Purpose Taxi Program. We expect the recommendations of this review to be considered and changes to the program implemented to improve travel for people with disability.
- VCOSS has raised concerns with the current ‘penalty fare’ arrangements, where our members report vulnerable people often feel pressured to pay a $75 ‘on-the-spot’ fare, and have limited capacity to challenge it. The Government is reviewing the currently penalty fare arrangements on public transport, and we expect the outcomes of the review to be progressed in the coming year.