News National Fund public transport, Labor tells Abbott

Fund public transport, Labor tells Abbott

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· High speed rail back on agenda
· Government defends East-West Link

Labor says Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a “strategic mistake” by eschewing federal funding for public transport, after a report calling for a better balance with private car use.

An Infrastructure Australia report says there is a need for equilibrium and a “system-wide focus” when it comes to urban transport.

The federal infrastructure body said the “right balance” between car use and public transport was key to tackling issues such as road congestion, and its impacts on travel time and freight.

IA’s Urban Transport Strategy was seized on by Labor’s transport spokesman, Anthony Albanese, who said the government’s opposition to federal funding of commuter rail had to be reassessed.

“It’s time for the Abbott government to recognise that they’ve made a strategic mistake in saying that public transport is off-limits,” he told reporters in Canberra.

[polldaddy poll=7698789]The government’s approach ensures that public transport suffers and that roads are not as efficient because they are more congested, he said.

The former Labor government’s last budget pledged almost $4 billion to two rail projects, the Cross River Rail in Brisbane and the Melbourne Metro.

However, Mr Abbott has said the coalition won’t match the funding and is focusing instead on road projects such as Melbourne’s East West Link and Sydney’s WestConnex.