IT’S hardly surprising, according to Brian Hess of Korumburra, that access to Melbourne via public transport is so poor.
This area is left out of every major discussion paper about public transport improvement, he told the South Gippsland Shire Council.
“And if you’re not in the plan, you’ve got no hope of getting the funding,” he said.
And there were plenty of heads nodding in support when Mr Hess, a member of the South and West Gippsland Transport Group, addressed council recently.
He was making a pitch for the council to approach other municipalities with a view to preparing an integrated transport plan for South and West Gippsland.
And news recently that plans for a new international airport located between Lang Lang and Koo Wee Rup could be fast-tracked, only enhances the need for a transport plan.
“Access to Melbourne is bad and getting worse,” said Mr Hess, referring to overcrowding on the Monash Freeway and problems with V/Line coach services through the area.
“We’ve also got no local networks of buses that feed into the V/Line buses,” he said.
Rail loop at least
The South and West Gippsland Transport Group has consistently pushed the need for an extension of rail services, at least into the rapidly growing Casey and Cardinia shires.
On its website the group quotes a recent report by Victoria’s Auditor General which indicated that the volume of traffic on the Hallam and Pakenham bypasses was already significantly ahead of traffic forecasts and Pakenham has already reached its estimated capacity for 2030.
“With continued growth, Casey and Cardinia are estimated to grow by at least another 300,000 to over 520,000 people by 2026 and the Gippsland region by about 45,000 people to 305,000 people, the cost of congestion to industry and in time and inconvenience to people will continue to escalate unless decisive action is taken.”
They propose a new Cranbourne-Pakenham rail loop, through Koo Wee Rup, which picks up the rapidly expanding suburbs south of Cranbourne, while also pitching for a return of rail services through to Leongatha.
The latter may be many years in the future but they say as an interim measure that V/Line coaches should be rerouted into a new public transport exchange at Pakenham to link with improved rail services.
Mr Hess said he believed South Gippsland Shire Council had the opportunity to play a key facilitating role in the development of such a transport plan.