Regional public transport - adjournment
19 February 2019
My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Public Transport. I recognise that the minister is fairly new to her role in the house, so she might not be aware of a promise that I made some 12 months ago to tell the firsthand accounts of the daily trials and tribulations faced by commuters in my electorate. It is a commitment I will continue with until the Andrews Government actually allocates money to improve services in my region. My question for the minister this evening is: having had a few months to get her feet under the desk, does she believe it is fair that the Andrews Labor government is doubling state debt in Victoria to invest billions of dollars into the city while not delivering a cent for new trains on Victoria’s long-haul lines to make services more reliable for country passengers? V/Line’s January service data again highlights the problems faced by regional Victorian commuters and communities. Many of our regional train lines are well below targets for punctuality, particularly the Bairnsdale, Albury‑Wodonga and Warrnambool lines. The Gippsland, Bendigo and Ballarat lines were also all below target for running on time. The north‑east line had the worst performance statistics for long distance V/Line services for January, with 87.6 per cent reliability against a target of 96 per cent, which is a significant deterioration in performance compared to preceding months. The Liberals and Nationals put a $19 billion plan on the table to deliver fast trains to regional Victoria so that all of the state would grow, not just Melbourne. This stands in stark contrast to Labor, which has done very little to improve the service beyond metropolitan Melbourne. I think that the stories of regional commuters put a human face to the cost of this poor service. Tanya Maiwald and her partner commuted daily from Broadford to the city for work on V/Line’s Seymour service. Tanya recently told me that the ever‑increasing journey times to the city, coupled with frequent delays, cancellations and coach replacement services, resulted in her daily commutes increasing to 4 to 5 hours a day, or 20 to 25 hours a week, on top of her full‑time job. She also has young children, and while she tried to maintain her work schedule it became unsustainable. As a result she has had to make the very difficult decision to take ongoing leave without pay from her job. In her words, she has forgone a job she passionately loves and excels in, and she cannot foresee a time when she will be able to resume her position, with such a long and unreliable commute on a daily basis. Regional communities suffer without adequate infrastructure and services, and we need access to reliable and punctual regional public transport. My action for the minister is that she informs my constituents of when she will invest in new trains for our region.