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What will become of public transport under the Coalition?

Sep 27, 2013Hot Topic

New Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has vowed to be known as an ‘Infrastructure PM’. But will that include public transport infrastructure, or just roads?

The PM is unashamedly committed to roads, which at the moment appears to be coming at the expense of all public transport innovation. While he has pledged to build the roads of the 21st century, all mentions of rail seem only to be teamed up with the words ‘withdrawing funding’.

Australia’s public transport usage has increased by an average of 65 per cent over the past decade. Car usage has barely increased. But will those stats force the new PM to rethink his approach to transport infrastructure?

At the moment, there are a number of rail projects that look likely to miss out on federal funding, including the North West Rail Link in NSW. Here’s a list of a few rail projects that have a question mark sitting over their heads:

Premier Barry O’Farrell has already confirmed that the North West Rail Link is a key priority for the State Government and that he will push ahead regardless of federal funding. That’s good news for the people of NSW, as it looks unlikely that the Federal Government will be sending any money its way.

High-speed rail was discussed by both sides of politics in the lead up to the election. Labor pledged to preserve the corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane, but the costs seemed to force the Liberal Party to hold off on committing.  Abbott said instead that he wanted to focus on infrastructure “for tomorrow rather than in 40 years’ time”.

Melbourne Airport and Melbourne Metro lines look likely to miss out on the funding needed to keep them on track. The Coalition has withdrawn money from the budget for the metro plan and without Commonwealth assistance, the long awaited airport line looks unlikely to get off the ground.

Brisbane and Perth look set to miss out too. The WA Premier has admitted that without Commonwealth funding the Perth Airport Link could be delayed and despite optimism from the QLD Government, Brissy’s Cross River Rail could face set-backs.

What do you think of the Abbott Government’s infrastructure plans? Should there be more of a focus on public transport or is his plans for our roads the highest priority?