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Baillieu's transport report card: solid, but uninspiring

It is an accepted part of the narrative of the 2010 election that Melburnians' festering gripes about transport helped propel Ted Baillieu to a surprise win.

Confidence in Labor's ability to manage the issue was low due to myki delays and cost blowouts and rail infrastructure being so run down it couldn't even cope with hot weather.

Transport minister Terry Mulder pledged to make the trains more reliable by investing in sorely needed maintenance, and on that front he has achieved respectable results. Metro hits its punctuality targets almost every month now (although they're not averse to skipping stations to give the stats a favourable nudge) and there are fewer vexing cancellations.

But laying new sleepers and fixing overhead wires alone won't cater for the huge passenger growth Melbourne's rail network is expected to see in coming years, and to that end the Baillieu government launched, as promised, a string of plans and studies for new railway lines — to Doncaster, Rowville, Tullamarine, Avalon and the Melbourne Metro tunnel from Kensington to South Yarra, its top rail project.

So it is fair to question why the east-west road tunnel has leapfrogged all of them to lead the government's transport wish list when it was not promised from opposition. Neither has a business case been made, suggesting the determination to build it is based more on conviction than hard evidence. Recent poor returns from toll road projects in Brisbane and Sydney should give the government cause to think again.

Meanwhile, country roads are cracking up from a combination of rain and neglect through budget cuts. The government says the cuts are necessary to make up for Labor's legacy of overspending but its own engineers in VicRoads warn that degraded roads just cost more to fix in the long run.

GRADE: C

Tomorrow: the full report card on the Baillieu government's performance at the two-year mark of its first term ... only in your copy of The Age tomorrow, in print, online, on mobile and on iPad.

193 comments so far

  • What's he done? Bubkis, really.

    Public transport in this city is a shambles.

    Commenter
    Benny
    Date and time
    November 23, 2012, 11:09AM
    • He's talking about a new tollway tunnel, and slashed cycling infrastructure spending to $0. Despite popular opinion (and the last election result) seeming to show overwhelming support for improved public transport, on that he's done nothing. A "study" into a Rowville link doesn't count as an actual result.

      Commenter
      David
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 12:22PM
    • indeed, PT is shambles, not only is the myki machine @ north richmond broken (it has been for months), the trains now so often run late that there is no point checking the timetable; these days it's just a matter of showing up & hoping for the best.

      Commenter
      m3tr0
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 12:23PM
    • Made it safer with the new safety officers. Have you heard of any mob or rock throwing attacks lately since they came online?

      Commenter
      housemartin
      Location
      hong kong
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 12:30PM
    • Overwhelmingly Victorians want better public transport infrastructure ahead of more toll roads and freeways but the governments' are doing the opposite. Why is this ?
      Because the road lobby have the politicians in their pockets. Thats why.

      The secret deals between politicians, road lobbyists, political donors and vested interests are preventing valuable railway infrastructure from going ahead.

      The quality of our politicians is pathetic !
      No leadership !
      Road lobby groups want to get their greedy snouts in the trough and some of the action in the $10 billion east-west toll road tunnel.

      Traffic congestion in Melbourne is costing the economy $4 billion annually in lost production.
      These losses will multiply if more major road expansion such as an expensive $10 billion east-west toll road tunnel were built.

      Successive state governments have downgraded rail services over the last 50 years and have gone on a spending spree wasting billions of dollars on unnecessary freeways and toll roads around Melbourne.
      Much of the freight has been transferred from the railways to road and this has led to an increase in dangerous heavy vehicles damaging our roads and causing an increase in road fatalities.

      All future road funding allocations should be transferred to the public transport budget to allow a major expansion of the railway network throughout Victoria.
      This is the only way to solve Melbourne's major congestion problems.

      Melbourne has not had a significant suburban railway expansion since 1927 when the Glen Waverley railway line was constructed yet many railway closures have taken place in the last 50 years around Melbourne.

      Commenter
      Rail Now
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 1:10PM
    • Of course MYKI meet their schedules now - they changed the timetables and added 5-10 minutes on the journey time as need, to make sure that happened!!

      As for the rail extentions - havent heard squat about the rail line extension from Deer Park to West Werribee - and the the Regional Rail Link website, just mentions 'current' work. No timeline to completion!!

      Commenter
      traveller
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 1:11PM
    • @Housemartin - DUH!

      The safety officers are on about half a dozen platforms over the ENTIRE network, and I for one dont feel any safer because of them!
      Didnt one of them 'accidentally' discharge his firearm in the police station the other week??? Great how 12 weeks of training turns a barrista (coffee not legal!), or a hairdresser into an armed PSO!!

      Commenter
      traveller
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 1:14PM
    • Stand by Elliot Ave in Royal Park - one lane each way - and tell me with a straight face that it needs a 9 billion dollar underground bypass. Why Ted's obsession with this massive tollway which would cost 6 Doncaster railways? I can understand a north-south tunnel to relieve Hoddle St. I can also understand the joining of the northern and eastern ringroads.to get trucks going around instead of through the suburbs and city. But when I'm driving through Royal Park this East-West tunnel plan seems madness. Whose interests are served by it? who's pushing it behind the scenes?

      Commenter
      Jeremy
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 1:16PM
    • housemartin, I heard of a mob throwing racial slurs and threats, and smashing a bus window because someone sang a song in French.

      Commenter
      David
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 1:27PM
    • Yes ,he has been there a whole 2 years and he should have been able to have fixed the 10 years of neglect.Bring back Labor so we can have another few years of neglect. Ted's in more trouble than a Slater and Gordon Solicitor.

      Commenter
      paulie boy
      Location
      la la land
      Date and time
      November 23, 2012, 1:33PM

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