In the midst of a very frenetic budget from the State Government, a key infrastructure project for students at Monash appears to have been swept off of the table: upgrades to Huntingdale Station.
The news is very disappointing for students of Monash University Clayton, to whom Huntingdale station is the most accessible train station for commuting to and from campus and for those who live in campus residences.
The upgrades in question were surrounding the 601 bus service which ferries students down Wellington road to Clayton campus. The 601 service is a dedicated express service and was created in 2012 after successful lobbying by the Monash Student Association and then MSA President Esther Hood.
“Public transport was in a dire condition at Monash Clayton, and our ‘Fix Public Transport at Monash’ campaign, which saw the introduction of the 601 bus, was a huge win for students”.
Since 2012, however, patronage of this service has more than doubled and the infrastructure arrangements are quickly proving to be inadequate. The lack of large shelter leaves people exposed to harsh weather conditions and to feeling vulnerable while waiting for a late night service.
The side street in which the stop is situated is without proper street lighting and is poorly signed; prompting many students to take a hasty dash across Railway Avenue to catch what they think is the only bus coming for some time. The awkward layout of the intersection also contributes to the hazardous nature of the crossing and with increased traffic (particularly around Monash’s plans to build more student living accommodation) it’s only a matter of time till someone comes to grief.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that the state government has chosen not to make this much needed upgrade a priority – especially considering the overwhelming community and student benefit such investment would generate”, says MSA President Benjamin Knight. “This government plans on making education a key component to its economic strategy for the future of Victoria, but is failing to engage with the reality that most of those students rely on public transport to get to and from classes. Monash has many students from regional areas and low-SES backgrounds that will be disproportionately affected by this budget and it will place their ability to attend University in jeopardy if simply getting to campus becomes a challenge. “
Mr. Knight also expressed his concern that the state government walked away from similar negotiations with Melbourne University and its student union over a proposed station in Parkville in favour of its plan to create a new station at Fisherman’s Bend and a service to Melbourne Airport.
The Government’s vision for public transport which includes taking the Pakenham/Cranbourne line off of the city loop and terminating it at Richmond has been widely criticised as being ‘hopelessly politicised’ and of being indicative of a panicked government. Opposition scrutiny of government spokesmen Mark Pakula says the government has failed to do it’s homework on this new rail scheme and has released a “political phantom” in a trouble filled election year.
Victoria’s transport future has become a key feature to this state election and while it is encouraging that we continue to discuss these much needed overhauls, it is clear that this state government is leaving Monash students behind.