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When the Bahadur family moved into their new home in Melbourne's booming outer west four months ago, they dreamed of suburban bliss. But it turned out to be a nightmare.
"We feel cheated," Binod Bahadur said.
"We bought this land on the promise that we will have a dedicated train station, and a bus stop within 300 metres of this development. But it looks like that was all a false promise."
Their home is in Tarneit, one of Melbourne's fastest-growing fringe suburbs.
Getting to and from the city, where one in five Tarneit residents work, can take up to two hours each way by car or train.
Tarneit Station opened just over four years ago and quickly became the second-busiest V/Line station in Victoria, with a car park that overflows by 7:00am each weekday.
Wyndham City Council collects tens of thousands of dollars in fines for those who have no option but to leave their cars wherever they can.
Each afternoon, returning commuters run from the train to be first to their cars to avoid getting caught in the gridlock on the way out.
Another 400 parking spaces have been promised, but Tarneit resident Arnav Sati said that is "not going to do a damn thing".
The alternative — driving to work — is no better. The roads are being widened, but it is unlikely to be enough. The area's population is expected to double by 2036.
Warnings of a 'modern slum'The ABC's Australia Talks National Survey revealed the federal electorate of Lalor, which includes Tarneit, is one of the least happy in Australia.
It topped the list for residents who would be happier if they spent less time commuting.
Mr Sati, who ran as an independent candidate for Tarneit in the 2018 state election, fears things could become worse still if nothing changes.
It is a common picture across much of Australia's outer suburbs.
Sydney's biggest growth has been in the suburbs of Riverstone and Marsden Park — about 50 kilometres west of the CBD — which the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said grew by more than 23 per cent between 2017 and 2018.
In Brisbane, there are warnings the city needs to build up as well as out to deal with the growing population there.
And while the outer suburbs are booming, ABS data shows the jobs are not moving with the population, with the majority of people still working in city centres across the country.
Bronwen Clark, the executive officer of the National Growth Areas Alliance, warned major infrastructure "can take a generation to catch up" with populations.
"Unfortunately it's very common," she said.
"We see examples similar to the Tarneit situation, where train lines have been promised, there are no local buses or they take years to come, the freeway hasn't been extended … that's happening right across growth areas around Australia."
The Bahadurs said they felt trapped in their new home.
"It's already a nightmare," Ms Bahadur said.
"But it will be a big chaos [if more people move here] because it will be inconvenient for everyone [to] live, kids can't go to school or university, to the city or to western suburbs," she said.
Land in Tarneit is now selling for less than the Bahadurs paid for their block.
Construction on a promised train station in West Tarneit, closer to their home, is slated to start in two years and be completed by 2027.
"People have realised that there is no train station here. There's not going to be a train station here. So that has brought down the value of the property," Mr Bahadur said.
"There is no charm in buying here anymore."
There are stops marked out for new bus routes across Tarneit, but no-one here knows if, or when, the buses will ever come.
Imran Arshad has a "ghost stop" around the corner from his house.
The promise of a bus route was why he bought there, but instead he walks 30 minutes each way to the closest bus — the first leg of a two-hour commute to the city.
"I guess this is how developers work," he said.
"They can't give timelines, but they do give you the expectations."
Demographer James O'Donnell, from the Australian National University, said the way rapid growth had been handled in Australia's major cities was "very uneven".
He said while there was often "strong partnerships" between governments and developers, in other areas the infrastructure to support the population took too long to come in.
Mr O'Donnell said the demographics of many growing suburbs were shifting quickly too. In Tarneit, 19 per cent of the population is of Indian heritage.
"There's a whole community infrastructure that has to come in with that to try and create some cohesion within these communities, and create these liveable environments for the growing population," Mr O'Donnell said.
At Aurora estate in Epping North, it took 11 years for a bus route to start running.
Back in 2006, homebuyers there were told the train would arrive within 10 years. It has not.
The timeline has now pushed out to at least another 15 years, and there is no longer the promise of a train — only "transport links".
Victoria's Department of Transport said it was working to meet the increased demand for public transport "by planning new and extended bus routes, more frequent trains and new rail links which better connect people right across Melbourne's outer west".
"Tarneit locals have access to 627 V/Line services to and from Melbourne every week to keep pace with growing demand," a department spokesperson said.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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