It is key to facilitating commerce and trade, supporting tourism, attracting new investment, growing jobs and strengthening community integration and connectivity. In meeting the demands of a modern, fast-growing population and reducing congestion, it can also improve liveability.
Victoria’s transport system is both extensive and diverse. It includes freight logistics, supply chain management, public transport, transport planning and transport management. It also incorporates a wide range of transport modes including road, rail, maritime and air services.
Over the past two decades Victoria’s transport network has been transformed. The Western Ring Road, connecting the Port of Melbourne and Melbourne Airport, supports the growth of commercial and residential areas in Melbourne’s west. Similarly, Eastlink has stimulated investment in Melbourne’s south-east and cut transit times between the city, ports and some of Victoria’s most important industrial areas.
A range of other major projects are either underway or soon will be, including the Tullamarine Freeway widening, the Monash Freeway upgrade and the West Gate Tunnel which will provide a much-needed alternative to the West Gate Bridge.
The Victorian Government’s Level Crossing Removal program is improving safety, reducing congestion, creating jobs and enabling more frequent train services.
Regional rail networks have been given a boost through the Ballarat, Shepparton and Gippsland line upgrades and the $3.65 billion Regional Rail Link project that separated metropolitan and regional services through Melbourne’s west.
Metropolitan linkages are being strengthened through the Metro Rail Tunnel project which will improve the frequency and reliability of rail services and enable more workers to locate in highly productive and employmentdense areas. Benefits will flow to businesses, employees and the economy at large.
The reform momentum must not stop. Victoria’s population is projected to grow by 4.2 million, from 5.9 million to 10.1 million people by 2051, with the population in Melbourne to reach 7.9 million. Continued delivery of environmentally sustainable transport infrastructure is therefore crucial if Victoria is to meet the future demands of industry and the community. Action is needed to provide job opportunities in the outer Melbourne growth areas and in regional Victoria.
Policy makers must support this investment with wider reforms that tackle gaps in the performance of the state’s transport system.
Foremost is the need to improve coordination across different modes of transport and better connect transport and land use planning.
The disconnect between transport and land use planning is evident in continued population growth in outer metropolitan areas with a clear lack of adequate transport.
Similarly, inadequate preservation of land in critical locations for future transport system expansion is threatening industry growth and adding to existing land use tensions between commercial, social and environmental interests.
Victoria’s public transport system of extensive rail, tram and bus services has strong foundations but more needs to be done to accommodate the forecast strong population growth into the next decade and beyond.
Inadequate support for smaller yet important projects and enhancements to the transport system undermines efforts to connect businesses to markets and help get workers to where the jobs are.
Network connectivity gaps between different modes of transport are constraining supply chain efficiency and exacerbating the first and last mile challenge facing producers.
We clearly need to introduce a transport network pricing regime that replaces the existing dysfunctional fuel excise and fixed Federal and State taxing system with an equitable and sustainable pricing regime that can also help manage congestion.
The limited adoption of smart technologies means many transport sector businesses are missing out on vital productivity and efficiency benefits that would help keep them competitive.
Inconsistent regulations applying across a number of states lead to inefficient and costly interstate transport, in some cases leading to lost business.
Skills shortages and an ageing workforce in many parts of the transport sector workforce are acting as a brake on industry growth and the uptake of new technologies.