Transport woes: Growth areas ‘let down’ by state

The state government is under attack for failing growth areas,
with a new report saying it has no strategy to address infrastructure
gaps in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.

Auditor-General John Doyle’s report into transport infrastructure
and services in growth areas, which was released last week, found that
public transport and roads in areas such as Hume, Whittlesea and Wyndham
have been inadequately funded by successive state governments.

The report said funding to address transport needs in growth areas often took “more than a generation to materialise”.

Mr Doyle’s report found that $10 billion was required to address
the immediate infrastructure backlog but that there was “no clear
statewide strategy for addressing the long-standing backlog of transport
infrastructure for established growth areas”.

RELATED:  Fed-up councils throw their support behind findings

He also found there was no guarantee the backlog would be
addressed, given the government’s limited roads and public transport

“There is little assurance this backlog will be addressed or that
the emerging transport infrastructure needs of new growth areas will be
delivered when required,” Mr Doyle said in his report.

“[There is also] little assurance that current statewide
investments in transport infrastructure are effectively targeted or
soundly based.”

Mr Doyle said while $2.5 billion was invested in growth areas in recent years, most were still inadequately serviced.

He highlighted the case of Aurora Estate in Epping North, which has 13 bus stops but no bus service.

The report also criticised Public Transport Victoria, VicRoads and
the Growth Areas Authority (GAA) for failing to plan properly.

Mr Doyle warned that the infrastructure lag would worsen as the GAA approved new housing developments.

He also called for transport projects to be funded on a needs
basis, noting that projects that would benefit the entire state were
financed ahead of those in growth areas.

GAA chief operating officer Paul Byrne said the organisation
acknowledged the recommendations and had already begun working to
address the report’s key points.

Transport Minister Terry Mulder blamed the former Labor government
for the shortage of transport infrastructure and said the government
was addressing “this massive backlog”. “But it will take more than 2½ years to roll back 11 years of Labor inaction,” Mr Mulder said in a statement.