It's that time that come around every 3 years, when politicians pretend that they want to improve public transport - well maybe.
At 16 days out, there is still a lot to change, and this will be covered by further blog posts, but what is the current state of play?
In the ALPs last term before they were annihilated at the 2012 QLD state election, they put up public transport fares by 20%, then 15%, then another 15%. This policy designed to decrease public transport subsidy failed, resulting in patronage reductions after many years of strong growth. The result made Brisbane's public transport system the 3rd most expensive in the whole world! However, at least there were some major improvements to Brisbane's bus network with more high frequency routes, even though some of the improvements were 7 months after the actual infrastructure opened.
Cross River Rail was planned, then made half-baked, then postponed due to the state's post GFC finances. The sector 2 train timetables with 15 minute weekday daytime off-peak was planned, but never implemented. A Connecting SEQ 3031 plan was announced, but was unfunded and pie in the sky. Chronic train shortages was also a feature of the ALP years, and a poor decision to not order any more of the most recent batch of trains is now resulting in a sub-optimal peak service on many lines.
After years in the political wilderness, the LNP came back with a bang, mainly aimed at public sector worker's careers and livelihood. Despite pretending to be reducing the cost of living, and claiming that they were going to fix the fare system, the LNP put the fares up 7.5%, then 7.5%, before reducing them by 5% in a pathetic political stunt that did not fool public transport experts. Amusingly, the LNP even advertised that savings in public transport fares could be spent on petrol for the car - they just don't get it! Thus the cost of public transport has gone up by 10% in the LNPs term, far more than public sector workers pay rises. Patronage has continued to decline, however due to the lack of transparency (what happened to the QR passenger loading study Campbell??) few would know.
The sector 2 train timetable improved off-peak frequencies across the inner-suburban network, however that was actually the ALP's plan. LNP were allegedly forced to continue with it by QR.
The carefully and financially justifiable Cross River Rail was canned, and replaced by the BaT tunnel which appears to be have been designed on a napkin in a coffee shop. With BaT missing out the critical Park Road interchange, it is rather half-baked, and has a poor financial justification.
TransLink came out with an excellent, though not quite perfect bus network review. Unfortunately, transport minister Scott Emerson gave into pressure from loonies in Brisbane City Council, and scrapped the plan. The result was a continuation of Brisbane City Council's grossly inefficient bus network.
2015 Election Policies
BrizCommuter is not sure if the ALP have realised there is an election on, and crickets could be heard chirping near the ALP policy headquarters. BrizCommuter did eventually find some 2014 policies at http://www.queenslandlabor.org/wp-content/uploads/2014QldPolicyPlatform_web.pdf
. Yes, plans to expand the rail network in keeping with SEQ Connecting 2031 is great, but where is the funding going to come from? What is the fare reform policy? Are the Eastern and Northern Busway extensions actually required? BrizCommuter is also not keen on keeping Brisbane Transport vertically aligned - it will just result in a continuation of its inefficient bus network.
Despite claiming the states finances are still in a mess, Campbell seems to have found rather a lot of money to bribe the electorate to prevent his nasty and arrogant government from being voted out after one term This funding is also dependant on the asset
leasing, which of course hasn't occurred yet.
The pork barrelling includes:
- Extending the Maroon City Glider from Ashgrove to Enoggera. Both the 2012 pork barrelling and proposed 2015 pork barrelling are both in Campbell Newman's electorate. Although this would be personally useful to BrizCommuter, it is disgraceful how Brisbane's bus network is continuing to be designed based on politics. Fail Campbell, fail!
- Duplicating the Sunshine Coast Line from Beerburrum to Landsborough. This has been welcomed bySunshine Coast commuters. However, BrizCommuter wonders if the Beerwah to Lanesborough duplication should be dropped in favour of building the CAMCOS line towards Caloundra and beyond. Also, a few more trains may need to be factored in, as well as a solution to overcrowding on the inner-Caboolture Line corridor as a result of the above improvements.*
BrizCommuter is glad that the LNP may be applying contestability to Brisbane's bus network. Brisbane Council being removed from running and designing Brisbane's bus network would be very beneficial and could result in a better designed and more efficient bus network. However, it could result in political fallout.
There has been little in the way of real policy on fare reform so far.
* If the BaT tunnel was diverted towards and along the Trouts Road Transportation Corridor, then the new line from Roma Street to Strathpine would 1) serve Campbell Newman's electorate, 2) improve public transport in many Northern Suburbs, 3) relieve the pressure on the inner-Caboolture Line due to MBRL (Redcliffe Line) and Sunshine Coast Line improvements. Yes, a bit expensive, but a win-win for Campbell. Unfortunately, the LNP appear to have not though about this idea.
It is early days, and much may change in the next 16 days. Sadly, the past track record of both parties a big fail when it come to public transport. The ALP currently have no real policies, and the LNP are mainly pork barrelling their public transport policies - oink!