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Rhetoric and behaviours beholden to ideologies founded on falsities stand between where we are now and what our public transport system needs to be.
About a month ago my wife and I needed to be in Queensland and as time was short and haste was a priority, we flew, making the most of the private transport system and the infrastructure supporting it.
It was, I must admit, convenient for after a two-hour train journey to Broadmeadows and then a 20-minute public bus trip to the Tullamarine airport, we were in Queensland less than three hours later.
However, about 10 days ago my brother, who is 80, was intending to drive to Queensland alone and as none of his children were able to join him, I volunteered to share the driving, experiencing another aspect of the private transport system, but then, to mix things up a bit, I decided to return to Victoria by train (public transport), meaning a 27-hour journey from Brisbane to Seymour and then a little more than an hour via train back to Shepparton.
However, like the TV advertisements, there was ‘‘yet more’’.
Scheduling at the Queensland end meant I had to begin my trip from the Sunshine Coast more than three hours before my 27-hour odyssey got started — the ice that is public transport is melting before the heat of battle has even begun.
Of course, when enjoying the convenience and imagined swiftness of flying you have to be at the airport long before your flight leaves the ground, you have to get there and that means either owning a car, having friend who does, using a taxi or a privately operated bus or some sort of connection service and then pay the alarming parking fees.
However, if you consider how long you must work to buy the car and pay all the associated costs, 27 hours on the train at just $105 (that’s a concession fare) seems minuscule, and it is.
Just for a moment, allow yourself some athletic thinking and get beyond the flummery surrounding the airline and motor industries and you can see that what is happening is nought more than public expense to ensure private profit.
Armed with the knowledge that both industries are only financially viable because of huge public support, we should be well placed to confront anyone who lapses into any rhapsodic-like argument about the criticality or air and road transport.
For more than a century now, Australia has poured public money into a seemingly bottomless pit to ensure the country’s road and air networks are among the best in the world, while at the same time our public transport infrastructure has been allowed to waste away.
Interestingly had we been spending similar sums on our public transport infrastructure for the past century it too would have been among the best in the world, being sophisticated, efficient and fast, equal, with a few exceptions, to anything road or air could provide.
Australia was built around its public rail network and although it has been pretty much abandoned now, an energy restrained future will demand we again embrace it.
Because of fire that razed the near 140-year-old Mooroopna rail station, oddly a timely affair, we now have a blank slate on which to create something new to take the town well into the 21st century.
This article first appeared on www.sheppnews.com.au
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