Melbourne's commuters face crush level public transport conditions within 16 years as residents turn to buses, trains and trams.
An Infrastructure Australia report has found one in six Australians used public transport to get to work, but that is likely to change. The Craigieburn, Sunshine, Werribee and Dandenong train lines will come under extreme pressure from a growing population by 2031.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the report validated his government’s strategy to invest in the Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel, increasing the capacity of the city loop.
“I think today’s Infrastructure Australia report, their commentary aligns very well with not (just) our comments, but our action,” he told reporters.
The report showed “crush loads” would dramatically increase on train lines as Melbourne’s fringe suburbs grew significantly in size.
But the report also said the East West Link road corridor – which Labor paid to axe – is Melbourne’s most pressing congestion point. Mr Andrews said the government was instead well into commercial negotiations over the Western Distributor, a market-led proposal for a toll road in Melbourne’s west.
He said it would relieve congestion on the West Gate Bridge and give motorists an alternative when accidents happened. Mr Andrews also said Victoria had ordered 100 new trains to keep up demand, as the Metro Rail tunnel will allow them to run more services.
Opposition transport spokesman Ryan Smith said the government’s transport projects were well off into the future, and they weren’t funded.
“Unfortunately Daniel Andrews doesn’t have any shovel-ready projects,” Mr Smith said.
National Infrastructure co-ordinator Michael Deegan said a widely accepted national strategy for managing, planning and financing urban transport was needed to provide effective transport across the country.
“This strategy would target improved city planning, better use of transport services, and better investment in road and rail infrastructure,” Mr Deegan said.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said without the investment the state government was making, Victoria would grind to a halt.
“Melbourne Metro Rail Project is Infrastructure Australia’s number one priority for Victoria, and we’re getting on with it,” she said.