Friday, July 11, 2008

Solving transport challenges rather than just building roads

A good opinion piece on where the State Government has it wrong, and some suggestions where it could get things right.

I have been perplexed by successive Victorian governments fixation on building roads and freeways and not providing more rail transport. In this regard, the Brumby Labor government is no different from its predecessors.

It seems to me that that both the government and Vicroads have made incorrect assumptions that cars, trucks, roads and freeways will meet most of our transport needs now and for the future.

I wonder if they listen to the radio reports every morning of the congestion and delays on all freeways as increasing numbers of commuters try and get to work along "freeways" blocked with congestion by single occupant cars whose drivers obviously don't believe they have adequate public transport options available to them. 30-minute delays over the last 10 to 15 kilometres are common in the mornings, and very slow speed due to congestion are now chronic over similar distances in the afternoon and early evening.

The government must be aware of this very real problem, yet their answer seems to be "we need more freeways, tunnels and links" - as the Brumby governments terms of reference seem to suggest for the Eddington report - which seems to be focusing on reasons why building an east-west tunnel link between the Eastern and Tullamarine freeways should proceed.

I have just read recent reported comments by Transport Minister Lynn Kosky in this article, including:

"We are working to find ways to meet increasing demand for public transport services," Ms Kosky said.

The Government had just ordered 18 new six-carriage trains that would carry 14,500 more people during peak times — "equivalent to more than 12,000 cars and more than six freeway lanes of capacity".

So they do know that trains are much more efficient than cars for mass transit. They would also know that car transport produces around 8 times more carbon emissions (using dwindling oil reserves) compared with urban rail transport.

However, just buying more trains and trams will not solve the problem for those who don't have easy access to local rail transport...

I'd encourage you to check out the whole thing at

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