Watchdog mauls govt over transport planning

Victoria's auditor general has ripped into the state government over failures to properly integrate transport planning as required by legislation.

Instead of a single unified plan that integrated all modes of transport—including bikes—the department of transport has produced a hodgepodge of different plans that did not fit together.

The Transport Integration Act became law in 2010 and was supposed to guide the state into a new era of advanced, long-term planning for transport across the state.

Rather than separate plans for modes such as trains, or cars, or bikes, or, area-based plans based on geography, the Act "seeks integrated planning and management of the many transport modes, networks and services that make up the state's transport system, so they best meet user needs.”

"An integrated transport system provides users with convenient access to timely, efficient services that are coordinated and linked within and across transport modes for seamless and reliable end to end journeys,” the report of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office says.

This recognises the reality that transport customers take journeys that can involve multiple modes, including walking, and those customers expect the government to provide the networks and services that meet these trips needs in the most efficient and responsive way.

Most modern economies are moving to manage their transport systems in this way.

As a result, the most efficient and convenient mode—the simple bicycle—has gained renewed prominence in planning and infrastructure investment.

And although the Victorian legislation has the right intention, and points the government of the day in the right direction, the bureaucracy has been mostly stuck with the wheels spinning.

"DoT and its predecessors have not, over the past decade, demonstrably integrated transport planning and are yet to meet the Act’s requirements for the transport plan,” the VAGO report says

"Since DoT’s establishment in 2019 though, it is evidently committed to realising these aims, and is making steady progress towards them.

"However, DoT’s assertion that its 40 separate plans and strategies presently meet the Act's integrated transport plan requirements does not withstand scrutiny.

"The absence of a transport plan as required by the Act, during a decade of unprecedented investment in transport infrastructure, creates risks of missed opportunities to sequence and optimise the benefits of these investments to best meet Victoria's transport needs.”

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