Free to ride under Guy

Shadow Transport Minister David Hodgett with Cardinia Shire Councillor Jodie Owen and Member for Bass Brian Paynter at Pakenham Station. 140290_02 Picture: ROB CAREW


STATE Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has committed to reversing V/Line travel restrictions for Pakenham commuters.
Mr Guy, who labelled Labor’s penalty-enforced travel restrictions as “short-sighted”, said he would overturn the changes if elected at the next state election.
“By stopping people at Pakenham from using V/Line services, the State Government has ripped out 200 services that people should be able to use in Pakenham which is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia,” he said.
“If I am elected Premier, I will make sure people will be able to board the train in Pakenham as they have always been able to do.”
From Sunday 21 June, V/Line trains heading into the city will no longer pick up Metro travellers from Pakenham station.
Metro travellers caught taking the faster regional train line will face fines of up to $217, according to Public Transport Victoria (PTV).
Cardinia Shire Councillor Jodie Owen predicted the changes would significantly blow out commuter travel times, impacting the appeal and liveability of Cardinia Shire.
“You’re going to see people travelling for two extra hours a day to get to and from work and if there are problems in the city loop or trains are cancelled, it can put travel times up to three or four hours,” she said.
“Will people move to Cardinia if they knew it might take up to four hours (for a round work trip)?”
At a council meeting on Monday 15 June, Cr Owen raised a motion to lobby the State Government to improve transport services in Pakenham as promised during the lead-up to the election.
“Council is aware that a large number of residents commute out of Cardinia for work and some of these residents will be disadvantaged by the changes being implemented and that these residents’ concerns need to be heard by the State Government,” she wrote.
Her pleas were echoed by Shadow Transport Minister David Hodgett and Member for Bass Brian Paynter who met with commuters at Pakenham train station hours before the motion was raised.
“If there is a demand for more services, the government should put more services on – V/Line or Metro … it shouldn’t be a city versus regional issue,” Mr Hodgett said.
But that’s the way the issue is viewed by Labor according to Eastern Victoria Region MP Harriet Shing, who described the changes as a “big win” for Gippsland passengers disadvantaged by an unfair transport system.
“Eliminating this inconsistency will make pick-up and set down rules fair, consistent and clear across the network,” she said.
The PTV travel restrictions are designed to reduce congestion on the train line, which is said to be regularly overcrowded by Metro travellers who enjoy a faster trip into the city on the regional train line.
A petition lobbying for the reversal of the incoming transport restriction is available at Gembrook MP Brad Battin’s electoral website.