By Danika Dent
THERE comes a point when there is too much ‘consultation’ and little results.
Tempers flared during the second community consultation session in Leongatha for Public Transport Victoria’s (PTV) submission for the Regional Network Development Plan.
Participants were told their previous views had been put together for ‘Conversation Summaries’, and that further consultation would be used for a report to the State Government’s Expenditure Review Committee before 2015.
That committee makes key recommendations for the state budget, which is due in May.
Public Transport Victoria was accused of performing too much consultation while there was little political will.
• “We’ve done these talks before, but the question is, is there any political will to follow through,” Rob Waycott asked.
• “We’ve already called for a lot of small, urgent changes that need to happen [like Myki tickets that are available on weekends, bus-stop locations, and safety improvements] – when will we start seeing results?” Donna Lancaster said.
A PTV spokesperson said all suggestions would be collated.
“We’ve been out talking with people about their priorities for public transport to help us prepare a Regional Network Development Plan,” the spokesperson said.
“We’ve held two sessions in Leongatha to hear about some of the current issues and challenges as well as ideas for the future.
“We have received more than 15,000 pieces of individual feedback throughout the consultation period and we are currently considering all the feedback, with a draft plan expected to be presented to the government by the end of the year.
“The Regional Network Development Plan is the first ever long-term strategy for public transport in regional Victoria and will set out the priorities for the future.”
Part of the priorities already identified in previous PTV sessions include: returning rail to Leongatha; connectivity with rail and ports; relocating bus-stops to well-lit locations; increasing bus-stops in towns for interconnectivity, particularly at hospitals, medical clinics, shopping centres; utilising community bus services; improving roads; and increasing the frequency of public transport in regional areas.
Many of the priorities involve millions of dollars, which may well be out of the scope of the State Government.
With a new prime minister indicating he is “for infrastructure”, public transport locally requires both state and federal ‘political will’.
“The short answer is we don’t know [if there’s political will],” Regional Development Australia Gippsland Committee chair Richard Elkington answered Mr Waycott’s question.
“There is a Regional Transport Plan being developed and we will have a document on the region’s priorities ready for the budget next year.”
Mr Elkington said it was the government’s responsibility from there as to what it would decide to fund.