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National Transport Crisis: PM and Premiers must act on mass transit

Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, today called on Prime Minister Rudd to commence an urgent COAG process to bring on fast mass transit alternatives for Australian commuters and relieve the mounting pressure on household budgets.

Senator Milne said "Australians stuck in traffic today and stretching household budgets to pay for petrol are sick and tired of the nonsense non-solutions being promoted by both the old parties.

"With global oil prices rising steadily, the petrol price pressure on so many Australians is thanks in no small part to the failure of governments over the past decades to grapple with the inevitability of peak oil and provide options for people not to use their cars. It's well past time to urgently fix the mess that's been made.

"The Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments must come together urgently to provide mass transit options that can be brought on fast. There is ample evidence that, when decent options are there, people will use them. Australians are already flooding trains and buses where they are available, pushing existing systems to breaking point.

"With all the relevant information and the right will, we can find solutions that can be implemented fast by re-prioritising existing infrastructure and capacity to get mass transit options to those who currently have none and desperately need relief from spiralling transport costs.

"What about some lateral thinking to use the spare capacity of community buses, most of which sit idle for 80% of the time? There are 150 of these buses in Parramatta alone.

"Without reducing the excellent services they provide, we could use community buses to ferry commuters in suburbs unserviced by public transport to nodes on larger mass transit routes.

"What about launching a public awareness campaign to promote car sharing and car pooling? What about setting aside space immediately for park and ride facilities?

"These are solutions that can be put in place as fast as we can recruit new drivers. They can relieve pressure on household budgets now and buy us time to build the new mass transit, pedestrian and cycleway infrastructure that will be needed in our decarbonised, post-oil economy.

"The Rudd Government must launch this work now while it immediately revisits its first Budget and reallocates funds away from roads and towards mass transit, funding which is skewed 20 to 1 against the sustainable and sensible option."

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