THE Victorian Government last week announced that community consultation on the state's first ever long-term strategy for regional public transport will commence next month.
The Regional Network Development Plan will set out priorities for regional public transport services, infrastructure and investment over the next 20-30 years. While there has been a metropolitan rail Network Development Plan in place since 2012, there has never been one for regional services.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the lack of a strategy for public transport in the short, medium and long term had held rural and regional Victoria back for too long.
"The Regional Network Development Plan will, for the first time, set out a plan for better public transport in regional Victoria in the short, medium and long-term," Ms Allan said.
"Regional public transport users and communities will be front and centre in our plan for better public transport in regional Victoria."
The Regional Network Development Plan aims to move Victoria away from ad hoc service improvements, towards a more coordinated regional public transport network where train and bus services work together to get people where they need to go.
The plan will also consider infrastructure upgrades, network extension and rolling stock, including next generation high capacity regional trains to cater for peak demand.
A Regional Transport Advisory Group with representatives from all regions will advise the Government during the consultation process and drive engagement with local communities and councils.
The consultation process will take place over the next three months, and will form a key part of the development of the Regional Network Development Plan, which will be finalised for consideration as part of the 2016-17 Budget.