17/04/2012

Ms HARTLAND (Western Metropolitan) —

My  adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for  Public Transport, but unlike Mrs Coote, I have nothing  to congratulate the minister on. Obviously we are treated much differently in the western suburbs. 

It has been almost one year since the Greenfields train timetable was introduced and it has resulted in the Altona Loop trains being cut in five ways.

The passenger impact statement obtained by the Greens at the time revealed that the Altona loop was badged with five capital Ls, presumably meaning ‘Losers’.  These cuts meant a bad train service got even worse, but, as I have witnessed, the scale of the negative impact may not have been foreseen. It is now very clear, it is unacceptable and it must change. 

Every public transport customer satisfaction survey filled in since the introduction of the new timetable shows that the Altona loop commuters are the most dissatisfied on the whole train network.

Many have been forced off public transport and into cars. Others can no longer participate in social and cultural activities, such as the Finnish Society of Melbourne seniors group. The volunteer philosophy teacher was forced to quit the Altona senior citizens centre. The elderly and those with a disability have been hardest hit — for example, Annemarie Kelly, who has a vision impairment, has been forced to take action in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.  Mount St Joseph’s Girls College has had to change its school start and finish times due to the extended time students have to travel. There were also safety concerns as girls were spending a lot more time at the train stations waiting for the next train. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Over 2000 residents signed a petition. Hundreds of complaint letters were delivered to the minister and his colleagues. Hundreds of residents attended a community meeting, and they held a forum at Parliament House, which the minister did not bother to attend.

Residents peacefully protested both at the minister’s office at Parliament House and locally. Numerous media outlets wrote stories. 

Today I am delivering to the Premier more than 800 personally signed postcards from Altona residents, and there are more to come. Each is calling for the duplication of the Altona loop single track as far as is possible and, in the meantime, more frequent trains, including trains that go directly through the city loop.

I ask that the minister make the required timetable amendments so trains run directly to the city, including trains that go through the city loop. I also ask the minister to move on the duplication of the single track — a relatively easy task — from either end of the Altona township to allow for increased frequency of trains.

I would also suggest to the minister that the previous government lost the election on the basis of neglect of public transport, and I hope this government does not make the same mistake.