While the number of fines issued could be influenced by the number of inspectors at different stations, Public Transport Users Association’s Daniel Bowen says the overall numbers indicate a widespread problem.
He says commuters should not have to rely on their car to get to the station, but should be able to utilise alternatives such as frequent and reliable buses, secure bicycle storage at stations and improved cycling and walking paths to stations.
The high number of offenders at Box Hill could be partly due to shoppers using commuter spaces, but is also an indication of mismatched train and bus timetables, he says.
Daniel says although the bus interchange at Box Hill services 15 routes, some services are infrequent and people feel unsafe waiting for buses, especially at night, so they drive to the station instead.
RACV’s On Track survey revealed that access is a big issue at Melbourne train stations.
“Getting to and from the station is a big part of people’s overall journey, but this is often overlooked in terms of planning, infrastructure and service delivery,” says RACV senior planner Stuart Outhred. “By running the On Track survey every two years, we can see trends over time in what people are happy with, what investment is making a difference, and what needs to improve.”
A transport department spokesman says the government is working on giving people more options to get to their nearest station, including building thousands of extra car spaces across the network.
“At stations such as Box Hill, we are always looking at ways to make it easier for people using the station to interchange with other modes of transport,” he says.
The Box Hill Transit Interchange Steering Committee will soon table its report to government on options to improve the interchange between rail, bus and tram at Box Hill.
But the PTUA is unconvinced extra parking spots are the solution. “The state government is committing $150 million on new commuter car parks, but no matter how big they are they will still become full,” says Daniel Bowen.
“That money could be better spent on such things as improved street lighting to make it feel safer to walk to and from public transport.”
The RACV also believes more needs to be done than simply providing extra parking. The Growing Pains reports highlight the limited amount of transport choices for people in outer Melbourne and Victoria’s regional cities and towns.
“Providing more car parking may be suitable in some instances, but it should not be seen as a silver bullet for improving station access,” Stuart says. “Councils need to work with the state government to provide safe bike and pedestrian access so commuters have more choice in getting to and from station precincts.”
He says Melbourne is booming so we need to make the right changes now to ensure train stations are accessible for all, not just people driving. “This means a holistic approach that considers how frequent and direct bus services, connected footpaths and safe bicycle infrastructure can all play a role.”