Recent comments on Melbourne’s transport system
The section below is republished with permission from the Going Solar Transport Newsletter #57, 29 April 2008, compiled by Stephen Ingrouille. Going Solar, www.goingsolar.com.au/transport. This newsletter provides an excellent commentary on local sustainable transport issues in Melbourne.
Eddington on the 3Ps
â€œEddington pays lip service to greenhouse and peak oil of course. However its almost small print that his plan will do nothing for greenhouse. Imagine that: spending $20 billion on transport infrastructure in an era defined by climate change and admitting that your plan does nothing to address it. â€¦And if, as is certain, that a new road tunnel would be largely paid or through a public private partnership arrangement then it will still cost. PPPs in fact cost the community more than other means of financing such projects â€“ they are not free money â€“ they are the infrastructure equivalent of â€˜buy now pay nothing for three yearsâ€¦ The community pays through the nose through tolls to use the infrastructure over the next 30 years, and the total capital cost is far more than it would be if we paid for it out of the states own coffers or loans. â€¦ The other thing about â€˜free PPPs is of course by using them you lock yourself into being driven by what is going to make money for the financiers â€“ which as we know is as much traffic as possible thank you very much.â€
Ref: Janet Rice, Metropolitan Transport Forum, 13/4/08.
Orbital Railway Proposal
â€œThe outcome of the Eddington Report has some unexpected recommendations, such as a railway that is more north-south than east-west. At least its a railway – how can a plan for the oil-free future include a freeway? There is no need for an east west connection to cross Carlton from the end of the Eastern Freeway; the traffic using the Freeway has been collected from all over the north-eastern suburbs, and would be headed for all parts of the western suburbs. Its alignment should be further north. A sustainable connection would start with the Tarneit rail line and head eastwards to Ringwood, then south to Mordialloc; an Orbital railway! It would have an interchange with each radial line, and connect all the existing outer suburban stations into a ready-made outer Melbourne rail system; it would increase the utilisation of trains on the outer sections of the existing radial lines. The wider spacing of stations on the Orbital would provide faster travel and compensate for the need to change trains. It could be built mainly within or above the routes of existing arterial roads, requiring little land purchase, so shall we say a mere $2billion cost?â€
Ref: Rob Spragg, 18/4/08
Road Building vs Public Transport
â€œFolks as much as it hurts to say this, no new road or tunnel is going to solve Melbourne’s traffic woes. It’s only going to encourage people to drive more, only delaying the problem for another few years. If, for example, we spend $10 billion on a East-West tunnel, people are only going to continue to drive and within five or ten years, we’ll be back at this stage now pleading for more roads. We cannot reduce congestion by building more roads since immediately we get more traffic to fill them up to the same speed as before. This is only prolonging the problem. The only way to reduce congestion is to introduce better public transport facilities which reduce the number of people who travel by car on the roads. Ideally, public transport should provide the sort of â€˜go anywhere anytime convenience that currently attracts people to cars. It requires a fully-integrated, â€˜seamless network with short waiting times and easy transfers. Currently this is not happening – just ask anyone who has to connect a bus to a train. Waiting times should be no longer than 10 minutes, day or night. â€œAs a solution, this government needs to: Build new lines to areas such as South Morang, Point Cook, Tullamarine Airport and Doncaster; Build express lines through the busier metropolitan routes (i.e. Pakenham, Frankston, Belgrave) to improve travel times to the city for those further out; Electrify existing lines to Melton and Sunbury; Build new stations such as Coolaroo (which was promised in 1970 state election campaign but has never been built) and Caroline Springs; More rolling stock and more drivers. I recognise that this will take time, but they can start on track work now and attempt to complete it before the rolling stock and drivers become available; Ideally, a loop around the city that allows people to bypass the city when travelling from suburb to suburb; Integrated bus, tram and train timetables that facilitate easy connections between services I recognise that this will take a decade to develop, and billions of dollars, but the benefits of doing so (and starting now) will far outweigh the benefit (which will only be short term) of any road built. Roads will only prolong the problem, and rail has the potential to solve it, by taking cars off the road.â€
Ref: Ryan Herb, Herald Sun, 19/2/08
Congestion in Melbourne
â€œMelbourne traffic will grow by 21 per cent over the next 12 years, potentially bringing the city to a grinding halt. â€¦ The annual â€˜social costs of this congestion will hit $6.1 billion, or more than $1400 per Melburnian. Social costs include increased petrol and car expenses, and medical bills from illnesses caused by traffic-generated pollution.â€
Ref: Peter Jean, Herald Sun, 19/2/08
Bike Lane Flak
â€œMelbourne City Council’s plan for new separated bicycle lanes on a major East Melbourne road must be overturned, the Master Builders Association says. â€¦The bike lanes, similar to lanes already installed in Swanston Street, Carlton, separate cyclists and car traffic with a parking lane. Under the council’s $500,000 plan for the East Melbourne bike lanes, Albert Street will be reduced from a twolane road all day to a single-lane road at all times, except during peak hours. Parking will till be available on the street, except during peak hours. â€¦ Master Builders Association executive director Brian Welch said â€¦ â€˜it’s an unwarranted expense (on behalf of) cyclists who probably don’t pay rates at all in this area, he said.â€
Ref: Clay Lucas, The Age, 19/2/08
Comment: The Master Builders Association may pay rates but that doesn’t mean that they ‘own’ the road space.