The Aurora Community Association has been campaigning since the early days of its Incorporation for better public transport to the Epping North area . Public Transport is one of the major issues we provide advocacy for on the community’s behalf due to three of the ACA’s Statement of Purposes–
#1. To commit to the sustainability and enhancement of the environment.
# 4. To take a proactive role in developing and maintaining community infrastructure and services to all; and
#6. To promote action on matters of major concern to the Aurora community such as the immediate construction of a railway line to Epping North/ Wollert until it is completed and operational.
In 2012-2013 the ACA transport working group have been meeting regularly (usually monthly) to work on strategy, campaigns and network building. If you would like to be part of the transport working group then please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out when they next plan to meet.
Click here to read articles from various media outlets relating to public transport in the Epping North/ Wollert area.
The Victorian Auditor General’s 2013 report titled “Developing Transport Infrastructure and Services for Population Growth Areas” comprehensively details the transport related issues facing growth areas such as ours and highlights the need for urgent whole-of-government action to address the growing impacts of the state’s longstanding failure to meet the transport needs of growth areas. The Aurora development is featured on page 21 of the report.
Additionally, the Northern Horizons report defines the future infrastructure strategy for Melbourne’s North to capitalise on the regions considerable social, economic and environment potential. Construction of the O’Herns Rd Interchange with the Hume Freeway was listed as the number one priority for ‘Improving local routes in the North-East’, Edgars Rd extension number two priority and High St/ Epping Rd duplication number four (see page 13 of report). Despite the fact that some infrastructure priorities are different to Council’s/ community’s priorities, the report does include all of Council’s ‘Top Ten’ infrastructure needs. Councillors extensively discussed timelines published in the Northern Horizons report on 4 February 2014.
1. Improved bus timetables
2. A train line to be built out to Aurora
3. Extension of bus route so buses stop at shelters already built
4. Inquiry on Growing the Suburbs
5. Better Public Transport for City of Whittlesea
6. Petition- Victorian State Government- the design and construction of the northern and southern ramps connecting O’Herns Road with the Hume Freeway (a full diamond interchange)
7. Pre-budget submissions to State and Federal Governments for
a) O’Herns Road – Hume Freeway Interchange; and
b) Epping North Train Line Extension
8. Epping North Fires and inadequate local roads.
9. Petition- Federal Government- the design and construction of the northern and southern ramps connecting O’Herns Road with the Hume Freeway (a full diamond interchange)
10. Access Denied campaign- Build O’Herns Road Interchange
11. Extended bus routes in Epping North/ Wollert
2. A train line to be built out to Aurora, as per the Aurora Development Plan (part one and two), which many residents in the early stages of the development were told would be built relatively quickly.
This website might be of interest in relation to the Epping North train line.
The Trains Not Toll Roads campaign spearheaded by the City of Yarra gives an insight into how a major train campaign could be run.
3. Extension of bus route so buses stop at shelters already built (by Places Victoria) to assist with most homes on the Aurora Estate being within 400m of a functioning bus stop (instead of a non-functioning bus shelter).
A working group was set up to campaign for improved bus services to Epping North. The group comprises Brad Costin, Tony Francis and Selva Ponnuraj with assistance from Cara Horner. This led to ACA emailing letters on 24 November 2011 about bus problems in Epping North to
- the Minister for Public Transport, Terry Mulder, and
- State Parliamentarian, Mr Craig Ondarchie MLC (Member for Northern Metropolitan).
ACA President, Cara Horner, contributed to a discussion on this topic in a local newspaper, Northern Weekly, of 14 November 2011, page 4. See Northern Weekly website for article.
The Northern Weekly article inspired a subsequent article on page 7 of The Age of 15 December 2011. Much discussion on the article occurred on The Age website and we hope the publicity that the article gave will help us get a solution to our poor bus services and bus shelters with no buses stopping at them!
Craig Ondarchie replied to the ACA letter and offered to meet with the ACA to discuss things further:
Cara Horner and Tony Francis subsequently met with Craig Ondarchie MLC in March and Harry Jenkins in July to discuss Transport and other development issues facing our growing suburb.
4. Inquiry on Growing the Suburbs: Infrastructure and Business Development in Outer Suburban Melbourne.
Another working group was set up to write submissions for the Inquiry on Growing the Suburbs: Infrastructure and Business Development in Outer Suburban Melbourne. The group comprised of Tony Francis, Joanna Durst, Toni-Marie Wuelfert, Cara Horner and Linda Anderson-Berry. The ACA infrastructure transport submission (dated 7 Dec 2011) examines the growth needs of Epping North in the City of Whittlesea and focuses on the inquiry task item “(b) assess the capacity of existing infrastructure to accommodate increased population growth”.
The infrastructure transport submission looks at the outer suburban area of Epping North which is already disadvantaged in a major way from insufficient infrastructure while anticipating a lot more population growth and a lot more infrastructure deprivation. The submission points out:
- Roads are experiencing increasing congestion.
- Promised public transport has been deferred indefinitely.
- New residents are working long hours to pay off over-priced houses and additional vehicles (in place of non-existent public transport). This paying-off includes substantial contributions to government funding which mostly does not go back into local infrastructure and community needs; instead being largely diverted into helping the rich become richer.
The infrastructure transport submission sums up Epping North transport needs as follows:
- a rail extension to Epping North;
- increase frequency and coverage of bus services;
- more development of roads appropriate for expanded bus services to local meeting centres;
- two lanes each way for High St/Epping Rd from Memorial Avenue to Craigieburn Rd;
- an intersection with traffic lights instead of a roundabout at Findon Rd/High St next to the Epping fire station;
- traffic lights at the intersection of Harvest Home Rd and Epping Rd;
O’Herns Rd connected to the Hume Freeway;
- completion of Edgars Rd from Cooper St to Craigieburn Rd.
The City of Whittlesea Council has also produced a submission to the above mentioned Parliamentary Inquiry into the infrastructure needs of Outer Suburban Melbourne. The Council’s submission supports much of the ACA submissions. See article on the inquiry in the Northern Weekly.
The Inquiry on Growing the Suburbs: Infrastructure and Business Development in Outer Suburban Melbourne report was tabled to Parliament on 27th June 2013. The Aurora Community Association’s submission and Epping North were mentioned numerous times in the lengthy report, in particular pages 109, 111, 159, 160 and 161. Some interesting data on City of Whittlesea residents was also included on pages 67-68. The following recommendations and findings were included in the report which are relevant to people living in Epping North/ Wollert:
Recommendation 4.6: that the Victorian government develop and implement a bushfire awareness and preparedness program for residents living in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. This should include the distribution of advisory kits for new residents designed to inform both english-speaking and non-english speaking residents. (p120)
Finding 5.8: that redesigning and improving local bus networks and routes is an important means to influence mode shift from cars to public transport. Improvement measures could include reduced journey times, increased service frequencies and straighter, more direct routes between origins and destinations. (p 152)
Finding 5.11: the committee finds that there may be a need for public transport connections connecting the growth areas of Mitchell and Hume. (p 160)
Recommendation 5.10: that the Victorian Government prioritises the development of outer suburban rail extensions and capacity upgrades identified in public transport Victoria’s network development plan. (p 162)
On a related note, you may also be interested in another report tabled in Parliament by the same Parliamentary committee 12th December 2012 titled Inquiry into Liveability Options in Outer Suburban Melbourne report. Unfortunately the ACA did not have any input into the inquiry that drove this report, however the document contains much information relevant to our community and recommendations that, if taken on board by our State Government, would reduce many of the growing pains our area is currently facing. It is useful fodder for us in our fight for better roads, public transport services and infrastructure.
5. Better Public Transport for City of Whittlesea: Bring Back the Buses action group organised a public meeting on Monday September 10th 2012 at the Whittlesea Council offices in regards to the public transport issues faced by City of Whittlesea residents and improving these issues. Tony Francis, Ordinary Member of the ACA committee, spoke at the meeting, covering the following points:
Transport Problems in Epping North
- Increasing road congestion
- Lack of public transport
- Failed promise of Aurora bus stops
- Aurora Estate designed around train line which does not exist
- Excessive street parking in narrow streets→no buses
- Limited connectivity between 575 bus & Epping station in peak hour
- 40 minute interval between 575 buses
- Worsening congestion at Miller St/O’Herns Rd intersection
Obstacles to Fixing Transport Problems
- View that more consultation needed
- No priority for Epping North or outer suburbs
- No Govt funds
- Priority to road developers and airport users
- Trains & buses believed interchangeable
- Doncaster rail extension study→ delay for other extensions
- Disregard for cost of no public transport – lost time, higher debts, family stress
For a more detailed account of Tony Francis’ speech, please click on the link below.
On 14th November 2012 a petition to the legislative assembly of Victoria was created to lobby for Victorian Government funding for a full diamond interchange connecting O’Herns Road with the Hume Freeway. This will be sent to Parliament at the end of November/ beginning of December 2012. This petition is found at http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/fund-oherns-rd-hume-freeway-interchange-in-epping-north-now.
The petition was tabled in the Victorian Legislative Assembly on Thursday 13th December 2012 by our local parliamentary representative Danielle Green, MP. (See page 4 of the Daily Hansard from that day).
We managed to get 581 hard copy signatures in only a few weeksfor the petition- this shows the level of frustration and annoyance our overcrowded roads are causing in our community. We also got nearly 300 online signatures which was also a great result.
The petition went to the minister for roads, the Hon Terry Mulder MP. Mr Mulder responded to the Petition on the 4th February 2013, stating that:
“VicRoads has advised me that the recently completed strategic modelling for the Northern Growth Corridor indicated that beyond 2046, with ultimate development, there is a need for O’Herns Road interchange, the O’Herns Road duplication and the Edgars Road extension. Further work on these matters will assist in determining the relative priority of these proposals in the context of other competing priorities and determine the desirable timing of these initiatives.”
You can read the whole letter at:
This letter is obviously shocking and disappointing to all of us that live in Epping North/ Wollert and for those that could use the interchange to access the freeway instead of using the clogged High St/ Cooper St route. Griff Davis, General Manager Advocacy & Comms at City of Whittlesea, in an email to the ACA regarding the letter, says:
“The reference in the Minister’s letter to 2046 is correct and has been made because the initial year of traffic demand modelling for the Northern Growth Corridor is 2046. VicRoads does not have any modelling results for years earlier than that so by sticking to those facts the statement is correct but the context in which it was made was not explained and therefore could look silly.
The work that Council is currently undertaking to support the need for road improvements is traffic modelling for 2016 and 2021 which we believe will show the same conclusion ie saturated roads but 25-30 years earlier. ” Griff expects this report in the next month or so.
The Northern Weekly wrote a scathing review of the letter at http://www.northernweekly.com.au/story/1302240/epping-north-to-wait-decades-for-road-works/?cs=1493.
The ACA emailed and also spoke with the Office of Mr Mulder MP in the middle of February about the project timeline and requested a clearer statement regarding the interchange be written to clear up the confusion. The below letter is the response to the questions about the 2046 timeline. The letter states the 2046 date was “advised by the Growth Areas Authority as the year in which Melbourne’s population would reach 6 million, the Northern Growth Corridor would be fully developed and as a result the O’Herns Rd Interchange, O’Herns Rd duplication and the Edgars Rd extension would all be required.” The letter goes onto say, as Griff Davis predicted, that “this is not to suggest these projects are not needed at an earlier date, however, as no interim modelling was undertaken (i.e. 2020, 2030 etc) VicRoads has not determined a time-frame in which these projects must be delivered to support this growth.”
You can read the whole letter at:
Despite this somewhat negative response we hope that it still has had some influence on the 2013-14 Victorian State budget. If we dont speak up then they will never know that we are here, let alone what we need! Thanks to those ACA members and supporters who took the petition out to their workplaces, local streets and the Christmas festival to get signatures. It really made a difference.
The Victorian Auditor General’s Office recently released a report on managing traffic congestion which is also supportive of what we are trying to achieve.
On the 30th January 2013 the ACA transport working group sent in submissions to both the State and Federal Governments regarding the funding of the Hume Freeway Interchange at O’Herns Rd and also the Epping North train line extension in the 2013-14 financial year. You can view copies of these submissions below:
As a result of the two pre-budget submissions , the Aurora Community Association has had letters of support to the Federal Government written by local members of Parliament:
Craig Ondarchie MP,
State Member for Northern Metropolitan
Harry Jenkins MP
Federal Member for Scullin
Rob Mitchell MP
Federal Member for McEwan
Reply to Harry Jenkins MP from
Treasurer Wayne Swan (Federal)
It was disappointing to find out on the 8th May 2013 that the Victorian State Government had not allocated any funding to the Hume Freeway Interchange at O’Herns Rd (including Edgars Rd extension and O’Herns Rd duplication) in the 2013-14 financial year. We will keep persisting with our advocacy on the issue and also anxiously await the 2013-14 Federal Government budget to be announced this week.
On Monday 18th February 2013 Epping North and Wollert residents had a close call with a major grassfire which had started in Donnybrook and travelled south towards us fanned by strong northerly winds. Horiffic traffic congestion occurred as residents fleed the area and other residents rushed home to secure properties, pets and help family members unable to deal with the situation themselves/ collect children from school and childcare.
The issue of our roads coping in emergency situations has recieved some major TV and newspaper coverage, inlcuding a front page article in The Age on Tuesday 19th February http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/traffic-chaos-adds-to-fire-danger-as-residents-flee-20130219-2epmg.html#ixzz2LP4T3dlb.
Jenny Mikakos MP (member for Northern Metropolitan, Legislative Council) made an adjournment speech in parliament on Thursday 21st February 2013 (p 84) aimed at the Minister for Roads, Terry Mulder, in which she spoke about our need for road upgrades and the chaos the poor roads in our area caused during the fire emergency. She called on the Minister to ‘work with the City of Whittlesea to achieve better transport solutions for residents to the north of Melbourne but in particular to fund the O’Hern’s Road interchange and the Epping Road duplication, , which are both very much needed.’
Danielle Green MP (member for Yan Yean, Legislative Assembly) also made an adjournment speech in parliament on Thursday 21st February 2013 (p 58-59) aimed at the Minister for Roads, Terry Mulder, in which she spoke about our need for road upgrades now (and not in 2046 like he had suggested in his recent letter to her/ the ACA) and the chaos the poor roads in our area caused during the fire emergency. She also mentioned the ACA O’Herns Rd Interchange Petition in her speech.
Minister for Roads, Terry Mulder MP (Legislative Assembly) verbally addressed Danielle Green’s remarks during that sitting of parliament (p 60). In relation to the 2046 date given for major road works needed in the area, he responded that ‘This is not to suggest that there is anything to stop the government—if VicRoads has not determined a time frame in which these projects must be delivered to support this growth and they are required earlier— putting them forward for funding options, and of course they would be considered as part of any future funding that became available.’ He refused to comment on her specific request for the duplication of High Street from south of Findon Road to Craigieburn Road East and stating that ‘We will have a look at Hansard and get back to the member’.
The minister is forced to respond formally to both the requests. Minister Mulder formally responded to Danielle Green’s adjournment speech on 24th April 2013. He referred her back to previous responses he had made to petitions she had tabled, mentioned the Metropolitan Planning Strategy, spruiked the Cooper Street widening project and acknowledged residents’ concerns about traffic congestion in relation to the Epping North grass fire. He says that VicRoads is ‘continuing to work on identifying requirements for the duplication of Epping Road between Memorial Avenue and Findon Road…which includes the replacement of the roundabout at the Epping Road intersection with traffic signals. There are no plans to replace the roundabout with traffic signals prior to duplication’. Click on the link below to read the whole letter:
Minister Mulder also responded to Jenny Mikakos MP’s adjournment speech on 10th May 2013. It is interesting to note in the letter he puts the responsibility of funding and implementation of the Edgars Rd extension project solely onto the shoulders of Whittlesea Council – through the Cooper Street Employment Area Development Contribution Plan- and that the development of the road is now subject to further development in the Area (and therefore money collected)! No mention of any state government funding or responsibility at all for Edgars Rd extension! In regards to the Hume Freeway Interchange, his response was basically that same as that stated above. Click on the link below to read the whole letter:
Minister Mulder did also formally reply to an ACA member and Epping North resident, Amanda Meyers, who wrote to him after the fire to complain about the untenable situation the road infrastructure placed us in during the emergency. His reply is below:
A new Federal Government gave us new opportunities for advocacy on local issues and as such the Aurora Community Association launched its second petition on the O’Herns Road Hume Freeway Interchange in late August 2013.
People signed an online petition to the Senate at http://www.communityrun.org/p/
Senator Kim Carr presented the online petition in the Federal Senate on 10 Dec 2013, whilst Federal Member for Scullin, Andrew Giles, presented the hard copy petition in the House of Representatives on 12 Dec 2013.
City of Whittlesea residents are being denied access to basic transport services- particularly major roads and public transport. Residents in the city of Whittlesea are facing a daily grind of congested roads and poor public transport. This is denying residents and businesses access to jobs, education, services and community participation.
There are 8000 people moving into the city of Whittlesea every year. Congestion is just going to get worse if there is no investment in roads and public transport. Investment in two major transport projects would provide residents with improved transport access.
In the lead up to the November State 2014 election, Whittlesea Council and the community, including the Aurora Community Association, is aiming to secure election commitments for two key projects to be delivered in the first term of the next state government:
- Construction of access ramps on the Hume Freeway at O’Herns Road in Epping North.
- Extension of the train line from South Morang to Mernda.
Please ‘Get on Board’: www.accessdenied.net.au
On Saturday 14th June 2014, the ACA held a Coffee and Chat that focused on bus advocacy. Over 30 people attended the event. Helen Said from ‘Bring Back the Buses’ campaign and Lily D’Ambrosio MP gave ideas and tips on how to campaign for better bus services in our area.
As a result of the Coffee and Chat, a number of people passionate about extending bus routes in Epping North/ Wollert have joined the bus advocacy section of the ACA’s transport working group and are now planning, amongst other things, to petition the State Government on the issue. Watch this space.
Last Updated 04/07/2014