Today's Victorian Budget is significant for its commitment to new transport projects as well as major investments in renewing Victoria's deteriorating road network. While this is good news for the long term, it will mean drivers’ and commuters’ will need to be patient in the short-term.
“RACV welcomes this vital spending required to upgrade major roads to keep our city moving but warn that motorists will face major short-term delays, especially during peak travel times. These much-needed projects will change traffic flows across the city. While these projects are being built, Victorian drivers will face prolonged roadworks requiring people to plan ahead before they start their journeys”, said RACV’s General Manager of Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, Bryce Prosser.
Suburban road upgrades including Sunbury Road, Epping Road, and Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road are good news for drivers commuting from Melbourne’s outer suburbs.
“RACV’s Growing Pains report highlighted that by 2030, Melbourne outer suburbs will support a larger population than the existing inner and middle suburbs. It is therefore vital the Government think long-term, and this Budget makes a solid start in this area”, Mr Prosser said.
Regional road users also benefit with the establishment of Regional Roads Victoria – a new body with responsibility for regional road upgrades. Regional Roads Victoria will be equipped with $333 million to repair regional roads. Local councils will also be able to tap into $100 million for regional road upgrades.
“RACV alongside local councils have been crying out not only for more funding to fix severely distressed roads, but also in more accountability in how regional road restoration projects are prioritised”.
“Market research conducted by RACV showed that over 40 per cent of respondents in country Victoria thought their roads would be in better shape if regional road maintenance was separated from Vicroads. It is fantastic to see this important structural change being put in place”, said Mr Prosser.
RACV hopes that regional rail commuters plagued by reliability issues will see less disruption arising from investments in regional track and trains, and some new services to Seymour and Shepparton.
“Regional towns need quality rail services they can rely on. RACV’s On Track survey identified that one of regional commuters’ pet hates is the replacement of trains with coach services. In many cases, these replacement bus services double journey times, meaning that commuters risk missing appointments and cannot rely on these services”, Mr Prosser said.
With rising energy costs, Victorian home owners will benefit from a $50 sign up bonus for comparing energy providers – a policy aimed at increasing the competitive offers of energy providers.
“RACV strongly believes in consumers shopping around for the best energy deal. Many Victorians currently stay with their incumbent energy provider, and may be stuck on outdated plans which don’t suit their needs. Encouraging Victorians to shop around is a positive action which will encourage Victorians to be better informed about their cost of energy”, Mr Prosser said.
The announcement of $25 million to deliver on community-led crime prevention is also a good move to encourage innovative community-based solutions.
“Solving crime-related issues requires a collaborative and community approach which government cannot do alone”, said Mr Prosser.