The Mornington Peninsula and Greater Frankston region is booming. The population in the area from Carrum to Portsea and out to the Western Port has grown by 15,000 people in the last six years, as more families look to call Melbourne’s traditional summer home, their full time home. However, there’s one major problem; the public transport network is not coping.
“Public Transport here is pathetic to non-existent,” Peninsula Rail Link designer Robert Whitehill says. “There’s nothing across the Peninsula, nothing from Mornington to Hastings, and whole towns with no public transport whatsoever.”
The car-park stressed Frankston, Kananook and Seaford railway stations, a shuttle train service to Stony Point and a flurry of infrequent bus services are the only options other than car that commuters have to negotiate their way around, and residents feel it’s simply not enough.
“Infrequent services are not going to encourage people to leave their cars at home.” Whitehill says.
Committee for Greater Frankston CEO Genevra Hosking says the network is “woefully underdone”.
“The buses I think are designed for people who want to waste time and people don’t catch the Stony Point service because it’s really infrequent.”
The 416 car park spaces at Frankston Station are usually all occupied by 6:15am, forcing the remainder of the 3,000 commuters who connect to the station by car to be dropped off, or pay $13 for a whole day of parking at the nearby shopping centre.
Not only is this an issue for city bound commuters, but also for businesses and employees in the local area, and users of Frankston Hospital and Monash University Peninsula Campus.
“The severe lack of parking is a huge disincentive for businesses to base themselves in Frankston City,” Hosking says.
“A big number of people are trying to get into a relatively small precinct that already has car parking issues,
“Frankston Hospital has a catchment the size of Canberra.”
But progress is in the pipeline.
The State Liberal and Federal Liberal and Labor Party have committed to duplicating and electrifying the Frankston line to Baxter, which includes new stations near the Hospital and University, Karingal, and Langwarrin.
“The rail extension is not so much about getting to Baxter, it’s about what happens on the way,” says Hosking. “We have 37,000 here (in Karingal and Langwarrin) with a train line, no way to get on it, and they’re some of the most car dependent people in Victoria,”
Ms Hoking says the extension of Metro services to Baxter will not only connect these people to the train line, but increase access to the Hospital and University, free up car parking in Frankston CBD and encourage commuters to choose public transport over cars.
“People in the outer suburbs used to catch the Frankston line while those in the inner suburbs used to drive, and that’s flipped in the last decade. If you’re up early enough for a carpark at Frankston Station, there’s no congestion on the M3 or M11, so you may as well drive.”
Robert Whitehill believes rail services should be extended to Rosebud, but electrification to Baxter is the first step to achieving that dream.
“I’m optimistic the Baxter extension will happen during the next term of Government.”
Frankston is one of the most marginal seats in the state ahead of November’s election. Sitting MP Paul Edbrooke’s Labor Party have yet to commit to the extension.
As the region continues to grow, the calls will only get louder and the dreamers can begin to dream.
“It’s taken from 1929 to today to get that sensible conversation about Baxter,” Hosking says. “The loudest criticism we’ve heard is why isn’t it going further?”