Leaders call for port city’s transport links to be fixed

d496155j Fremantle Train Station Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au
d496155j Fremantle Train Station Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au

|THERE are calls for Fremantle’s transport links to be fixed, with a connection to the State Government’s Metronet floated again.

It takes an hour and 25 minutes to get from Scarborough to Fremantle and 45 minutes from Cockburn Central to the port city by public transport, dramatically more than via car.

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Danicia Quinlan said while Fremantle drew visitors from the northern coastal suburbs and southern corridor, there were no efficient transport links between these centres.

“We have 1600 workers arriving at Kings Square early next year, many of whom will need to catch a train into the City of Perth and back out to Fremantle in order to get to work,” she said.

“We have our major health care precinct and significant education facilities at Murdoch, and again no regular or efficient transport links between these centres.”

Mrs Quinlan said the Metronet plan originally floated had a circle route that captured the southwest corridor and northeast corridor and provided ease of access to Fremantle.

“Half of this to the northeast is being completed under the current Metronet plan. It is now time to address the southwest links of this circle route,” she said.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said there were some obvious gaps in the public transport network.

“The City is very concerned that Fremantle was not included in stage 1 of Metronet and there is still no planning for south of the river and west of the freeway,” he said.

“Current Metronet planning has identified investigation into the extension of heavy rail from Thornlie to Fremantle via Cockburn Central in the long term, 2031-2050, and the creation of a high priority transit corridor between Murdoch and the Cockburn coast via Fremantle for implementation ‘beyond 2050’. This is a poor outcome for Fremantle.

“We would like to see these important connections brought forward and planning to begin immediately.”

Curtin University Professor of Sustainability Peter Newman said the issue with connecting Fremantle was the freight container port, which he believed needed to be shifted to Kwinana.

“That’s the issue that needs to be resolved but the MUA don’t want it to move,” he said.

“I’m keen to see the phasing out of the containers in favour of passenger rail from Cockburn Central to Fremantle. Places like Spearwood and Hamilton Hill have historically been linked to Fremantle, but they’ve lost that connection as people use the Mandurah line now.

“The bus services are not bad but there’s no competition with fast rail and it will create employment opportunities and help families get to Fremantle on the weekend.”

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the State Government was busy delivering its Stage 1 commitments for Metronet and she looked forward to working with local governments in developing plans in the future.

Public Transport Authority spokesman David Hynes said it was well-documented that travelling by public transport generally took longer than by car.

“We have a duty to provide an equitable level of service to potential passengers, which means services like the Cockburn-Fremantle buses stop in the suburbs through which they travel, thus increasing the journey time,” he said.

“We have advertised and trialled a number of coastal routes – both seasonally and year-round – in recent years, including to and from Scarborough, and found patronage did not justify them continuing beyond the trial period. Generally, coastal-specific routes do not attract sufficient passengers for a number of reasons, including low residential density along the coast, partially due to the fact that half the potential catchment area is ocean.”

d496155pFG Market Street. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

Mrs Quinlan said absent transport infrastructure had an impact on parking, both on reality and in perception, with people’s minds made up that the only way in or out from the north or south was to drive.

“It means those off the Fremantle-Midland line are forced into their cars,” she said.

“Fremantle has all the potential to be the urban living environment of choice, with character and soul, for those working along the southern corridor. But the lack of efficient southern corridor transport links in and out of the Fremantle limits us.”