Saturday, August 30, 2008

Report blinded by bad case of tunnel vision

THERE have been two extremes in many of the comments reported by The Age on the East-West (Eddington) transport report. Infrastructure construction interests have pressed to get on with building a $7 billion road tunnel and an $8 billion rail tunnel, and never mind the bad economics.

Public transport advocates have pressed for rail investments and no road investments, ignoring the congestion related to road freight (which cannot use public transport), especially near the port.

The technical reports underlying the East-West study show that neither tunnel is economically sound. Even allowing for indirect agglomeration benefits, the cost-benefit ratio for the rail tunnel is only 1.2 and for the road tunnel is well below 1.0. The ratio for the combined road and rail solutions is 1.0. Normally projects need at least 1.5 to pass muster, and there are other road projects in the queue with ratios much better than that. The reason for the bad economics is simply that tunnels are very expensive.

There is, however, a clear case for doing something - Eddington was right in saying that doing nothing is not an option. The abrupt end of the Eastern Freeway is inefficient, and there is severe congestion on and around the Westgate Bridge, and the port area. Urban rail lines on the inner north-west side of Melbourne are clogged with both Connex and V/Line trains. The trains are overcrowded and patronage there is growing fast.

But big, expensive tunnels are not the best solution. A disappointing aspect of the technical papers is that they do not thoroughly explore more modest (but still substantial) alternatives - apart from a good "truck plan" to handle growing road freight while reducing the negative impact on residents in Yarraville and Footscray.

The road problems are local rather than corridor-like and could be eased without a large tunnel by widening streets where possible, adding a river crossing, and building underpasses at the busiest intersections. (Underpasses would also be a great help in other busy parts of greater Melbourne.)

The rail congestion problems can also be eased without a expensive tunnel by using spare tracks and land in the inner north-west area and building flyovers at junctions to improve the capacity and make better use of some of the lines.

This could be supported by more efficient use of Flinders Street Station (covered in the report), newer signalling to boost line capacity (discussed only briefly in a technical paper), and by convincing passengers to abandon the strange local custom of standing in doorways, which slows the exit and entry of peak period passengers and extends "dwell" time at stations.

The cost of such alternatives, although in the billions, would be a fraction of what the tunnels cost.

These more modest alternatives could be implemented much more quickly than tunnels. The current road and rail problems will become severe before tunnels could be completed.

Good alternatives would also achieve most of the benefits, should have good economics, and would allow the financial room to address other pressing transport problems.

Some of these problems are indicated on a map in one of the technical papers, which shows the streets in greater Melbourne that are the most congested - many of them are not those covered by the East-West study. And there are other rail demands; new high capacity trains, planned for 2013, will need to be financed.

It is possible that tunnels, perhaps shorter than those proposed, will be justified at some later stage. Experience shows it is rash to project short periods of high growth well into the future - as the study did.

Any justification will also depend on other developments such as carbon prices, and greater efforts in "demand management" to spread peak periods. The study mentions congestion pricing in 10-plus years - not long after the tunnels (yet reducing the need for tunnels).

There is a good economic case for congestion pricing; it has been successful overseas, and can be popular when the proceeds go to transport improvements. It would be best accompanied by peak/off-peak public transport pricing, possible when the Myki electronic ticketing eventually works.

The wise approach (using the economics technique known as "real options") is to address future uncertainty by proceeding with adequate capacity improvements while preserving easements for larger projects later.

The Victorian government is considering the east-west study and developing a wider transport policy it will announce in November. It will be finding that the tunnels would crowd out many other good transport options across Melbourne.

David Greig is an Executive Director in the economic consulting firm ACIL Tasman.

Read the original article at

Cyclists defend Holland Park

If you were in Kensington at around 7:30pm on Friday, you may have witnessed close to a hundred cyclists descend upon MacAuley Road.

Meeting at the State Library, the eclectic mob headed north to Fitzroy, and followed the path where the tunnel has been planned.

They viewed the parkland in Royal Park, and then via the Moonee Ponds creek bike path, on to JJ Holland Park, to see what was at stake. Various riders spoke up about the issues at hand.

In some ways, it was quite apt that a group of cyclists did this, as bicycles provide a viable alternative to inner-city transport. There was also a cheer at Macaulay Road, when a train went past.

Photos courtesy of and

Riders at Holland Park, learn about the potential destruction of the park and the resulting loss of a number of junior sporting clubs, amongst other things.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Commuters' fit of peak as Melbourne trains fill up

FEELING a bit squashed? It's probably because an extra 100,000 Melburnians a day have squeezed on to our public transport system in the past year.

Metlink figures for an average weekday show 1.5 million commuters jam trains, trams and buses, with packed-out peak times dragging out to almost six hours a day.

While morning and afternoon peaks are the most crowded, some of the biggest hourly increases have come outside peak, as strap-hangers try to avoid the crush.

The shift has prompted calls for increasing trip frequency and capacity across the day, as well as 24-hour public transport, as more people leave their cars at home.

Last year to July, Melbourne's commuters took an average 1.5 million trips a day -- up from 1.4 million in 2006-07. Of those trips, trains carry 45.2 per cent, while trams take 35.5 per cent and buses 19.3 per cent.

And exclusive hour-by-hour figures show pre-7am travel leapt 15 per cent, with more big jumps after evening peak.

Across the day, Connex figures show it is the Sydenham line that carries the most passengers, followed by Werribee, Pakenham/Cranbourne, Epping and Frankston...

Read the rest of the article at

Speak out on Melbourne's transport crisis, urges Sir Rod Eddington -

by Ashley Gardiner

TRANSPORT expert Sir Rod Eddington has warned that Melbourne's congestion crisis will not be fixed if those who oppose his ideas dominate the debate.

Sir Rod last night called on those who would benefit to speak out.

"If we don't participate in the debate, then we shouldn't be surprised if we don't get what we want," Sir Rod said.

"The problem with the debate is, unless you're careful, the debate leads to complete inactivity."

Melbourne's transport problems would only be solved by investment in new infrastructure, he said.

"That is both expensive and disruptive," Sir Rod said.

"That means there will be people who will be disrupted, and it's tough for them, and they will quite rightly make their views known."

Sir Rod said that disruption had to happen to improve the situation, particularly in areas where transport connections were poor.

"If those who face disruption are vigorous in their complaint, and those who will benefit from all the things that (could be) done say nothing, then don't be surprised if the first group prevail."

The underground City Loop was a hugely disruptive project when built in the 1970s and '80s.

"I can remember it turned up the streets of Melbourne for quite some time," Sir Rod said.

"It was an essential and necessary part of providing a better life for everyone ultimately, but it does mean some people face temporary disruption."

Sir Rod was speaking at Monash University's annual Ogden Transport Lecture at the State Library last night.

Activists are already mobilising campaigns against the proposals made by Sir Rod this year.

They include a road tunnel linking the Eastern Freeway to the western suburbs and a rail link from Caulfield to Footscray.

Residents around Kensington are campaigning against the potential loss of a park that would be used as a works site during construction.

Opposition is also mounting in the western suburbs in areas where the link may be situated.

The State Government is nervous about the electoral implications of the projects.

Read the original article at

Funnily enough, I agree that people need to speak out, and I agree that Melbourne needs massive spending on infrastructure. I guess it's which infrastructure, and what people need to speak out about that we disagree upon.

Remember, email if you want to send your personal suggestions to the State Government.

Planners urged to cut urban sprawl -

Matt Johnston

BAN the outer suburban housing estates to cut urban sprawl and be more like London and Rome.

That's the advice from Australia's peak architectural body, which wants Australia's big cities to focus on boosting their inner and middle suburbs' density rather than release land in outer areas, to become more sustainable.

The Royal Australian Institute of Architects' new urban design policy also pushes for greater regional development to encourage more Victorians to live and work in cities such as Geelong or Ballarat.

Victoria's peak housing developer group says a move away from outer suburbs would cripple the economy and hurt families who were calling for more housing in affordable areas.

RAIA president Howard Tanner said increasing urban density to maximise efficiency and sustainability of infrastructure was the only way forward for Melbourne and Sydney.

"You have got people encouraged to buy a block of land way out of the city and they are having to travel for three hours a day to commute. That's not sustainable," he said.

Mr Tanner said a roads-based city like Los Angeles was seeing infrastructure crumble, and Melbourne would do better to aim for the city models of London and Rome.

"People there live in town houses or terrace houses, the houses are never one-storey and you have got the population that lives closer to the city," he said.

"We have to curtail land subdivisions at the extremities of the city. The other option is to put in some very fast trains to regional centres. Somewhere like Geelong could be an attractive destination for working and living."...

Read the rest of the article at

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Freight plan calls for expansion of B-triple network in Victoria -

By Nick Higginbottom

THE Brumby Government plans to run B-triples through some suburban streets as part of a massive overhaul of the transport sector.

A secret Department of Transport document obtained by the Opposition revealed the B-triple truck routes that will force heavier and longer truckes onto Victorians roads without any community consultation.

Opposition Transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the document showed the truck road map stretched from Wodonga to Portland and from Sale to Mildura including many roads, tollways and freeways in metropolitan Melbourne.

"This is John Brumby's fallback plan because of his failure to transfer freight to rail as Labor promised," he said.

"In December 2007 (Roads) Minister Pallas promised full consultation with local communities and councils about B-triples.

"John Brumby should tell Minister Pallas to pick up the phone and start making calls instead of traeating local communities and councils like mushrooms."

Key roads affected by the proposal include the Calder Freeway and Highway from Melbourne to Bendigo and Mildua, the Western Hwy from Ballarat to the South Australian border, the Henty hwy from Horsham to Portalnd, the Geelong road and Princes Fwy West to Colac and from Heywood through to the South Australian borders and the Hume Hwy to Wodonga.

The radical plan will also push the massive truck onto already overcrowded roads including West Gate Bridge, Monash Fwy and most of Citylink. The trucks will also be allowed to drive through the state's four freeway tunnels on the Monash and Eastlink - the Burnley, Domain, Melba and Mullum Mullum tunnels.

Other roads included in the plan are the whole of Eastlink, the Mooroduc, Frankston and Tullamarine freeways, the Western Ring road and Ferntree Gully Rd.

The plan would also see the massive trucks inundate numerous roads around the Port of Melbourne in Footscray and Yarraville, along with Fitzgerald Rd in Laverton and Cooper St in Campbellfield.

Premier John Brumby said the government hadn't made any decisions about the monster trucks, but admitted it was investigating a range of options for increased B-Triple use....

Read the whole article at

"Not ruling anything in... not ruling anything out"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I just got back from Bronwyn Pike's Community Transport Forum (yes... I was lucky enough to schnaffle an invitation).

I'll write more about the forum later, however, the person there representing Tim Pallas mentioned that :

is operational to receive feedback regarding Victoria's impending transport strategy. I would encourage everyone to send any suggestions they have to this address. And, probably a separate email for each issue so they can be given to the appropriate person at the Department of Transport (formerly the Department of Infrastructure).

Perhaps cc'ing your local member wouldn't hurt, either.

Tunnel critics shunned by Pike transport forum -

by Clay Lucas

CRITICS of a $9 billion road tunnel plan have been barred from a Government forum this afternoon to discuss transport plans for Melbourne.

The move has led to fresh claims the State Government is attempting to marginalise groups that do not agree with its plans.

Opponents of the proposed 18-kilometre tollway, which would run from Footscray to Clifton Hill, have been told they cannot attend today's forum, being staged by the Education Minister and MP for Melbourne, Bronwyn Pike.

The transport forum, at Ms Pike's North Melbourne electorate office, is one in a series being staged by Government MPs.

Premier John Brumby last week said the forums were proof his Government was listening to the public's views on transport, ahead of a Government transport strategy to be unveiled in November.

Three community groups that oppose the toll-road plan, asked this week to attend Ms Pike's forum, but were denied invitations, although the Royal Park Protection Group was later included after complaining to the Department of Transport.

Brian Walters, SC, who lives in the eastern suburbs, is from the group, Protectors of Public Lands. He was told the forum was "an invitation-only session to local residents' associations".

Mr Walters, a former president of Liberty Victoria, said the Government could not control a guest list and then claim to have consulted the community.

Ascot Vale group the Mount Alexander Road Campaign Committee was also excluded.

Ms Pike said she had invited a cross-section of the community to the forum.

Read original article at

Read the statement regarding these forums from the Premier's Website here. It appears that this North Melbourne one has been added since the forums were first planned, as are ones scheduled for Friday 29/8 for the Brunswick and Richmond. We would suggest you contact the Department of Transport if your community group has not received an invitation.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Review suggests Melbourne congestion tax -

Tim Pallas has since denied that the State Government are looking at a congestion tax (see below, and there's some nice reader comments in there too).

A review of Melbourne's transport system has called for a congestion tax and tolls on public roads.

Fairfax newspapers report that VicRoads and the Department of Infrastructure said in interviews for a review of Victoria's transport legislation in 2006 that "road congestion pricing" was an emerging issue.

The review also proposed "the extension of tolling to public roads" as a means of cutting congestion, Fairfax said.

"Over time there may be further private toll roads," Fairfax quoted the report as saying.

"There may be decisions to introduce pricing for public roads and/or to restructure tolls for the current private roads."

The review was obtained by the Victorian Opposition following a freedom-of-information request.

The Victorian government has long been opposed to tolling public roads, Fairfax said.

Sir Rod Eddington's plan to build an $18 billion 18km road tunnel and 17km rail tunnel to link Melbourne's east and west, released in April, also suggested tolls on roads that are presently toll-free.

At the time of the Eddington report's release, Premier John Brumby said the government was not "ruling anything in, nor ruling anything out" among Sir Rod's 20 key proposals.

Shadow transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the report showed the government was considering tolling public roads.

"The government has a long history of diving into motorists' pockets," he told Fairfax.

A government spokeswoman said the government continued to oppose tolls on existing roads and a congestion tax although its departments could continue to examine ways to manage the road network.

Read the original article at

...Roads Minister Tim Pallas today said there were no plans for a Melbourne CBD congestion tax or tolls on public roads, despite proposals to do so in a government report....

Read the rest of that article, and some great user comments, at

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Climate change 'torch' comes to Holland Park

At noon, on Thursday August 28th, Kensington residents will do their part in GetUp! Australia's Climate Change Torch Relay.

The torch was designed by the same people who designed the Sydney Olympics torch. It embodies a variety alternative energy sources including solar, wind, human and even a lemon! These generate electricity that is displayed in a small screen.

If you would like to get involved (click here), and yes... you can run with it! Or if would just like to come and give support, come along.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Massive rise in Geelong train trips

by Peter Begg

GEELONG commuters are jumping on board public transport, with passengers on V/Line's Geelong line surging 19.8 per cent in the past financial year.

V/Line yesterday said there were 3,081,829 passenger trips on the Geelong line in 2007/08, up by more than 500,000 trips on the previous year.

The transport operator was commenting after Premier John Brumby released figures showing patronage on metropolitan trains had increased 12.7 per cent in the past 12 months.

The Melbourne figures showed that 32 million more trips were taken on trains, trams and buses in the past 12 months. Of those, the biggest increase was the 12.7 per cent increase on metro trains.

V/Line has also released its latest performance figures for July, which showed that congestion on Melbourne train lines was continuing to affect its Geelong services.

The latest figures show 95.3 per cent of trains on the Geelong-Werribee section of the line ran on time in July.

But when trains got closer to Melbourne, only 82.6 per cent were punctual.

The V/Line figures showed that out of 1387 trains that ran on the Geelong line in July, 239 were late by five minutes or more.

This is above the carrier's target of 110 delayed trains.

Of the 239 Geelong trains delayed last month, 85 were late due to metropolitan congestion and 36 were held up by infrastructure faults. Train faults held up a further 31.

In June 45 trains were late because of metropolitan train congestion.

V/Line media manager Daniel Moloney said one of the challenges for operators with extra patronage was getting all those extra passengers on and off trains.

"The boarding times take longer, and there are also more trains competing for space," Mr Moloney said.

"So under the broad banner of metropolitan train congestion, there are a lot of V/Line and Connex trains competing for X-amount of space and there are huge numbers of people affecting boarding times."

Mr Moloney said the only thing that would improve V/Line's performance was major infrastructure upgrades, such as extra track space around the Footscray area and the rail tunnel raised in the recent Eddington report.

Mr Brumby attributed the jump in patronage in Melbourne to the introduction of 300 new weekly services to the metropolitan train timetable and the Early Bird Metcard, which allows free train travel for people who arrive at their destination before 7am.

Read the original article at

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Public transport use hits all-time high

by Clay Lucas
Squeeze ... Melbourne's public transport patronage is experiencing 'extraordinary' growth.

Squeeze ... Melbourne's public transport patronage is experiencing 'extraordinary' growth. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

More than 200 million people travelled on Melbourne's trains between 2007 and 2008, according to Premier John Brumby.

- Rising patronage
- 'Extraordinary' growth
- Overcrowded services

Unveiling new train, tram and bus patronage figures on North Melbourne station this morning, Mr Brumby said the growth of passengers on public transport in the last few years had been "extraordinary''.

There were 201.2 million trips on trains in Melbourne in the 2006-07 financial year, 158.3 million trips on trams, and 91.3 trips million on buses.

The growth in public transport patronage was up 7.7% on the previous year.

Mr Brumby hailed the increase in passenger numbers as a sign of success for Victoria, even if there was pressure on travellers who boarded overcrowded services.

"This is the first time we've ever had more than 200 million Victorians use our rail system (in a year),'' Mr Brumby. "In the last year alone, there have been something like 25 million extra passenger trips.''

The Premier was accompanied by Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky; both arrived by train. Ms Kosky's train arrived on time; the Premier's train was two minutes late.

Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said Mr Brumby and Ms Kosky had chosen to visit North Melbourne because there were fewer passengers coming through it than Richmond station, Melbourne's other main rail hub outside the CBD.

"John Brumby and Minister Kosky would not be game to show up at Richmond station where eight of Melbourne's 15 electrified train lines operate through, compared with five lines through North Melbourne and two through Jolimont,'' Mr Mulder said.

"The Cranbourne, Frankston and Pakenham lines have not once in the past 13 months met Labor's punctuality benchmark of no more than 8% of trains being six minutes or more late,'' he said.

On the Pakenham line, 13.9% of trains were at least six minutes late in July.

On the Frankston line, 13.1% were more than six minutes late, and on the Cranbourne line, 11.9%.

Mr Mulder said trains ran at their latest during weekday peak hours.

"When Melburnians are trying to get to work, or get home to see their families, they are being thwarted by John Brumby's `too little, too late' approach to investment in vital rail infrastructure,'' Mr Mulder said.

In the seven months from January to July this year, there were 4044 suburban trains cancelled, including 361 services in July.

Read the original article at

" increase in numbers as a sign of success for Victoria..." Jeez... doesn't he realise that quite a few people who read The Age also watch 'The Hollowmen'?

I'm thinking the spiralling digits on the petrol pump may have had a little bit to do with it, perhaps? It's certainly not the quality of service!

If you're free on Wednesday, see if you can register...

Following the Footscray forum there's one coming up in North Melbourne. Previously, they've asked for 'any interested parties', so you might want to try to register and get along, if you're available.


The Brumby Government is preparing a major transport plan for Melbourne and regional Victoria.

This plan, which will be released by the end of the year, will provide a strategy for not only Melbourne's east and west, but also for our northern and south-eastern suburbs as well as regional Victoria.

To develop a plan that will apply to the diverse needs and aspirations of all Victorians I am contacting local organisations and groups with an interest in Melbourne's transport future. The purpose of the consultation is to provide an opportunity to learn more about Victoria's transport challenges, outline the current planning process, raise matters of concern, and identify opportunities for Victoria's future transport network.

I am interested in your ideas as local community representatives and therefore would like to invite two members of your organisation to attend the Melbourne Transport Forum so we can discuss these important issues.

The details of the Forum are provided below.

Date: Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Time: 4.30 – 6pm

Location: 146 – 148 Peel St, North Melbourne, Mel Ref. 2B 10B

To register your attendance, please contact my office via telephone (03) 9328 4637 or email by Friday August 22.

I look forward to working with you at the Melbourne Transport Forum. The feedback I receive at this Forum will be considered at a Transport Summit, which will be hosted by the Premier in September.

There's also one for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, hosted by the Minister for Roads, Tim Pallas. That would be a really interesting one, seeing how they have stated they don't want to build the rail link to Doncaster - details as follows. Get along, if that's your neighbourhood

Date Tuesday 26 August 2008

Time 8:30am to 11:30am (registration from 8:15am)

Location: The Ballroom
Beau Monde International Hotel
934 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East
Mel ref: 48 A1
Light refreshments will be provided.

To register your attendance at the event and to advise of any dietary requirements, please contact us on (03) 9655 6089 or email
We look forward to working with you to help shape Victoria's future transport network.

Second look at tunnel plan -

by Clay Lucas

A TRANSPORT planning firm hired by the State Government to assess the need for a $9 billion road tunnel from Footscray to Clifton Hill has been hired again: to give a second opinion on its own figures.

Veitch Lister, a Brisbane-based traffic modelling consultancy that specialises in predicting traffic flows, worked on Rod Eddington's Investing in Transport plan.

Sir Rod said in April that the $9 billion road tunnel, which would link the Western Ring Road to CityLink and then the Eastern Freeway, should be built. His study relied on Veitch Lister's traffic figures to show there were enough motorists travelling between the eastern and western suburbs to justify building the 18-kilometre-long tollway.

Sir Rod's finding contradicted a 2003 government study, which showed that demand did not justify the expenditure.

That study made traffic counts, and analysed the data. The Veitch Lister study for the Eddington report did not do any on-the-ground collection of data.

Veitch Lister was among a group of seven consultants, paid a total of $2.9 million, that advised Sir Rod.

Veitch Lister was hired again in June by the Government to work on its coming transport plan in response to Sir Rod's study — even though the Department of Transport has its own highly experienced traffic modelling team.

A number of submissions to the Government in response to Sir Rod's report criticised Veitch Lister's modelling because it ignored the impact of rising fuel prices and public transport patronage.

A Government spokeswoman last night said Veitch Lister was a respected transport modelling firm that regularly did government work.

Read the original article at

Fire Connex, transport expert says -

by Clay Lucas

Connex says Melbourne's trains should stay in private hands.

Connex says Melbourne's trains should stay in private hands. Photo: John Woudstra

RAIL operator Connex should be sacked and management of Melbourne's suburban trains brought back into public hands, prominent transport academic says.

- 'Dismal' performance
- Tunnel proposal slammed
- New contract

Melbourne University transport planner Nick Low says Connex has performed dismally.

Professor Low will tell a transport conference today the State Government should not renew Connex's contract for the rail network. The contract expires next year.

"I'm absolutely convinced that Connex has made a complete mess of it," Professor Low told The Age.

In a speech today to the Municipal Association of Victoria's strategic transport planning conference, Professor Low will argue that the Government must bring the rail system back under public control.

Connex has failed to manage the system to the benefit of rail travellers, Professor Low argues, by not doing everything possible to run more services and reduce waiting times.

"The Government would be wise to not reappoint Connex to run the suburban railways, and wiser still to bring the whole operation back into public hands," he says.


In his speech, Professor Low attacks a proposal by Sir Rod Eddington to build a $9 billion road tunnel from Footscray to Clifton Hill.

The road tunnel proposal will only encourage more people to drive into the city instead of taking public transport, he will say today.

If the road tunnel were to be built, it would encourage future freeways through inner parts of Melbourne, to relieve the traffic pressure it would create...

Read the whole article at

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Brimbank residents launch No Tunnels campaign

A report from our friends at YCAT.

...People often ask me why don't more people use public transport in Melbourne. My response, when people ask me that is would anyone want to use public transport in Melbourne, it's so terrible...
Paul Mees speaking at the Brimbank Residents meeting.

On Tuesday, 12 August 2008 Chris, Steve and I represented YCAT at a Brimbank Residents Meeting at the Glengala Community Centre in Sunshine.

The meeting was well attended, 250 residents and representatives from local Resident Groups who voted to formalise the Brimbank Campaign Against the Tunnel and elected a Steering Committee.

Paul Mees, as the keynote speaker, regaled the meeting with a personal, pertinent travel antidotes of his journey from the city to the meeting venue which involved several hours, no connecting transport links, extreme cold, no shelters and refugees who could not understand why Australia, as a first world country, has worse public transport than their country of origin.

Paul also had some interesting statistics on the Sydenham Line – in 1998 there were four peak hour trains a day, two in the morning and two in the evening, with the recent 2008 increase in service on the Sydenham Line there are five trains a day. An increase of one (1) train in ten years at a time been 300,000 people a day now travel to the city to work They certainly can’t drive as 300,000 people in two square meters leaves no room for cars.

In the later part of his speech, Paul Mees indicated that, from his perspective the infrastructure for increasing public transport already exists - Use the existing rail system…. it is (already) the most extensive by world standards. The alternatives (to road transportation) are not explored as the consultants and government ministries and departments favour roads. It is not even an economic argument – the proposed 9.5 billion is three times the cost of the Snowy Mountains Scheme”

Paul concluded with a quote from a Transport Officer in Vancouver, who on hearing of the situation in Australia and specifically Victoria said How do they (the government) get away with it? How indeed?

Following Paul Mees, Colleen Hartland, Upper House, and Melbourne West spoke and pledged the Greens support for the campaign and agreed to ask a number of questions in the house on behalf of the meeting.

I was then asked to speak for YCAT, which I did by outlining our campaign structure and focus in Yarra. Several speakers followed this from the floor and one local councillor.

    • The primary concerns of the residents of Brimbank are:
    • The Toll Road
    • The lack of community consultation by the State Government
    • The secretary surrounding the Eddington Plans
    • The proposed truck and transport link with the Westgate Freeway
    • The loss of private homes estimated at 500+ and compensation?
    • The grieve and community dislocation this will cause
    • The probable elevated tollway connection to the Western Ring Road

It was a positive and empowering meeting and, on behalf of YCAT, we indicated our commitment to work together on this campaign.

Freda Watkin

Monday, August 18, 2008

Does Melbourne need another central city rail tunnel?

I've only just happened across Dr Paul Mees's EWLNA submission. If you have ever heard him speak, you will know a lot of this. If you haven't, it's very interesting reading and I'd encourage everyone to take a look. A quick excerpt...

The $8.5 billion rail tunnel budget alone could pay for:
  • elimination of all rail level crossings in greater Melbourne ($3 billion), plus
  • new lines to East Doncaster, Rowville (via Monash), Mornington, Aurora, Mernda (via South Morang) and Melbourne Airport ($2 billion), plus
  • electrification of lines to Melton (via Caroline Springs, and including track duplication), Sunbury and Cranbourne East, and duplication of single-track sections on the Cranbourne, Hurstbridge, Epping, Lilydale, Belgrave and Altona lines ($1 billion), plus
  • doubling the size of the train fleet ($2 billion)

Read the whole submission here...

Secret poll on extended, tolled Metro ring road -

John Ferguson
August 18, 2008 12:00am

THE State Government is discreetly polling the electorate about extending the Metropolitan Ring Road through prized bushland.

Multi-storey housing developments in the outer suburbs is another topic for pollsters.

Voters are being asked about the impact of extending the ring road from Greensborough to join EastLink or the Eastern Freeway, despite key Labor MPs having opposed the move in the past.

If adopted, a road extension from Greensborough to Ringwood through the green wedge area could lead to the compulsory acquisition of homes in Diamond Creek, Eltham and Warrandyte, and the alienation of parkland.


A government spokesman said the polling was part of preparing this year's transport strategy and an extension to the ring road was being ruled neither in nor out.

"And as the idea has been raised in several submissions to the Eddington report it has been included in our consultations," he said.

The Government is reportedly investigating two options for extending the ring road -- one a 6km link from Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway, the other a massive road project from Greensborough to EastLink, joining at Ringwood.

A shorter option, from Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway via Bulleen Rd, has been backed by local Labor MP Craig Langdon.

The Government's telephone polling was leaked after a Liberal Party figure was surveyed at his home.

Mr Guy said the Government had also sought voter sentiment on:

  • REMOVING trucks from streets in the inner west.
  • AN 18km cross-city connection.
  • A 17km rail tunnel between the west and southeast.
  • DEVELOPING an outer ring road.

The Government asked voters to reveal how they felt about multi-storey buildings in their local areas, and how they felt about multi-storey buildings in outer-suburban Melbourne.

Planning is a crucial issue among many voters, with the Government attempting to determine how the electorate would accept multi-storey housing in the outer suburbs around public transport, allowing the Government to capitalise on land close to existing infrastructure.

Read the whole article at

Brumby eyes ring road 'missing link' -

Paul Austin
August 18, 2008

PREMIER John Brumby has commissioned taxpayer-funded polling to gauge public reaction to the prospect of the Government building the contentious "missing link" in Melbourne's ring road.

Mr Brumby's department has engaged market research firm I-view to assess voters' views on a range of controversial projects he is considering for inclusion in a multibillion-dollar plan to tackle Melbourne's road and public transport congestion.

The telephone survey asks people their opinion on suggestions that the Metropolitan Ring Road be extended from Greensborough to the EastLink tollway at Ringwood, through some of the city's most environmentally sensitive areas.


Mr Brumby said last month that several groups had been lobbying the Government to include the "missing link" in the transport blueprint.

"But it's a very difficult issue because if you're to build that link it goes through some very sensitive areas of parkland," he said. "And you'd need to look at things like tunnels and so on to preserve the environment."

The RACV, the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Victorian Freight and Logistics Council are among influential lobby groups that hope Mr Brumby announces a plan to complete the ring road as part of his pre-Christmas transport statement.

The I-view survey is also asking people their views on the two main proposals in Sir Rod Eddington's report to the Government: an 18-kilometre road tunnel linking the Eastern Freeway with CityLink and the Ring Road; and a 17-kilometre rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield via the CBD and St Kilda Road.

Read the whole article at

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The inimitable Rod Quantock has dedicated the profits for two nights of his retrospective show "Last Man Standing" to the cause.

Thursday August 28th is for Yarra Campaign Against the Tunnel

Saturday August 30th is for Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria

Both are community groups just like, currently focussed upon not letting the East-West Link car tunnel go ahead. So your money will be going to a worthwhile cause (and Rod's really funny!)

Book at

Trains just as packed despite extra services -

by Melissa Fyfe and Reid Sexton

THE Brumby Government's efforts to ease the commuter squeeze on Melbourne's train system have failed, with extra services achieving no reduction in overcrowding.

The Sunday Age understands that Connex's latest survey of train passenger overcrowding, which the Transport Department has yet to release, shows a rise in "load breaches" — more than 798 passengers in a six-carriage train is a breach.

In April, the State Government introduced an extra 105 services to the weekly timetable but, only a month later, the survey found the number of overcrowded trains had risen. "The new services were just gobbled up by the increases in patronage growth," a transport source said.

The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures on social trends show public transport usage in Melbourne is growing faster than in any other capital city, with Melburnians' patronage of the rail network surging by 30% in three years.

In the decade to 2006, the proportion of adults using public transport for work and study leapt by 35% to 300,500 — almost triple the rate of growth in Sydney and higher than in Brisbane, which experienced a 22% rise in public transport usage...

Read the whole article at

Saturday, August 16, 2008

State 'failing to grasp' urgency of climate change -

Adam Morton
August 16, 2008
David Karoly.

David Karoly.

THE head of a new expert panel advising the Premier on climate change has criticised the State Government's performance in cutting greenhouse emissions, arguing that senior ministers fail to comprehend the scope and urgency of the problem.

Professor David Karoly, a lead author with the UN's climate panel that last year shared the Nobel Peace Prize, said the Government was sending the wrong message by simultaneously backing a new brown coal power station and claiming it would cut emissions. He called for a moratorium on new coal-fired stations until experimental "clean coal" technology — capturing carbon dioxide as it is emitted and burying it kilometres underground — became commercially viable. Experts predict this is at least a decade away.

Professor Karoly's views challenge the Government's backing last month of a new Latrobe Valley plant that would cut emissions from brown coal by about 30%, making it roughly equivalent to a black coal station.

Speaking after being appointed as chairman of the new climate change reference group, Professor Karoly said the Government had an "interesting definition" of what cutting emissions meant.

"The Premier and the Government are now looking at how to respond to climate change, but they don't recognise the scale of the problem or the scale and urgency of the response that is needed," the Melbourne University meteorologist said.

"How can you tell people climate change is important and then say 'we're going to have this new black-coal-equivalent power station and we're going to put lots of money into it'?"

According to federal figures, Victoria's greenhouse emissions rose by 12% between 1990 and 2006.

Emissions from the energy sector — the biggest contributor — increased by 27%. The State Government has a target of cutting emissions by 60% from 2000 levels by 2050.

Stressing they were his personal views and not necessarily those of the panel, Professor Karoly called for:

■Rapid conversion of existing brown coal power stations to natural gas.

A rethink of transport funding so it was weighted at least 5:1 in favour of public transport over new highways.

■Financial incentives to encourage power companies to get customers to cut electricity use.

■An end to the "disastrous, crazy" deal that gives heavy-polluting Alcoa aluminium smelters cheaper electricity rates.

■A commitment that all Government policies would be assessed in terms of climate change.

Mr Brumby said the Government wanted the advice of the state's best science, policy and business experts.

Read the whole article at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trains, trams and automobiles: getting our priorities right |

by Kenneth Davidson

IT IS about time that Melburnians began to confront the sausage rather than the sizzle in the transport debate. Rapid population growth (due to high immigration) and rising oil prices (due to peak oil) mean that public transport will have to bear an increasing share of the burden of providing personal mobility if this city is to remain liveable.

Motorists may love their cars, but that is no reason people using public transport should cross-subsidise those drivers who enjoy a Commonwealth fringe benefit concession, which allows them to write off the expense of using their car against tax, when public transport users have to buy their tickets out of their after-tax income. Nor does it explain why those living in the outer suburbs should not have the same choice of public transport as is available to those who live in the inner suburbs.

The $1.5 billion car subsidy should be abolished and the money used to improve and extend rail networks in the larger cities where road congestion is most acute. By reducing road congestion, the reform would be doing a favour for motorists as well as those who prefer public transport.

The essence of good government is to design a tax and regulatory system that rewards good behaviour.

The fringe benefit concession encouraged the demand and local production of six-cylinder cars in defiance of environmental realities as well as making the benefit proportional to mileage. The more you drive the more you get. Crazy. The real, immediate and urgent question facing Melburnians is why is the public transport system, the rail system in particular, manifestly unable to meet the felt needs of commuters?

Is it due to bad management or to a lack of capacity on the rail system? With better management of the system, would we get more services through the City Loop, or are there real physical constraints on the capacity of the system that can only be relieved by the construction of a new underground rail link between Caulfield and Footscray?

The debate has two clear sides. The Transport Department, supported by the Eddington report, argues that the new $8.5 billion rail link is required to make new services to the outer suburbs possible. This is disputed by advocates of the work of RMIT urban transport planner Paul Mees, who left the urban planning department of Melbourne University after pressure from the Transport Department, whose senior management resented being characterised as corrupt and incompetent by Mees because they had ignored his recommendation to reorganise the City Loop.

What should be a straightforward technical dispute has become a highly charged personal and political issue. In my opinion the responsibility for this lies with the Government, which has refused to have an expert inquiry into the core issue of why the loop is a bottleneck that prevents more intensive use of the present system and why public transport services in suburban growth areas are appalling.

Based on the history of the transport bureaucracy under successive governments, public transport advocates may well be right to suspect that the rail tunnel will never be built but is being presented in the hope of making more palatable the east-west road tunnel connecting the Eastern Freeway with Footscray. This is an extremely unpopular and economically and environmentally unsustainable private-public partnership that will cost $9 billion.

The Eddington inquiry was independent in name only. Most of the information and its staff came from the Transport Department. Department head Jim Betts was employed by Macquarie Bank as the transport expert in the original failed attempt to privatise Melbourne's public transport corporation and he as been involved in every inquiry since.

These have resulted in generous public subsidies and less onerous regulations to prop up the system, which is the worst of all worlds. Victoria has a transport minister who is on the record as saying she doesn't want to run a train system, so franchisees run the system with a focus on profit rather than service, and we have a regulator in the form of the department, which has been captured by the franchisees.

The issue of whether the failure of the public transport system is due to bad management or a physical bottleneck that prevents expansion into the outer suburbs must be resolved by an independent and open inquiry. It should be conducted by experts drawn from cities with successful public transport systems — cities such as Toronto, Zurich and Perth.

There is still time to achieve this. The current franchises are in place until the middle of next year. They should then be converted into operational agreements that will give responsibility for management of the system to a transport commission responsible for investment in track, rolling stock, signalling equipment and timetabling and will operate at at arm's length from the responsible minister. Under this arrangement, the transport minister would be required to communicate any ministerial directives in writing to be tabled in Parliament.

Read the original article at

Victorians' patience is being tested |

by Paul Austin

DID you notice John Brumby change gear? No sooner had the Premier celebrated the first anniversary of his ascension to the top job than he signalled that the pace of change might be a bit slower from here on.

The self-styled Action Man Premier is taking a bit of a breather. Just for the moment, it's not so much hold-on-to-your-hats as steady-as-she-goes.

First it was population. Brumby used his first-anniversary interviews to send the message that our present growth rate of more than 1500 extra people a week is as strong as we want, thank you very much, and he's now going to push gently on the brake pedal.

Then it was transport. Brumby is signalling that, no matter how keen we are for less-clogged roads and trains, there won't be any big new tunnels for years to come. In other words, there is no "magic bullet" solution to Melbourne's transport woes — certainly not in time for Brumby's date with the voters at the 2010 election.

Population and transport are related issues, of course. Brumby argues that the growing pains so evident on the railway stations and arterial roads of the city are at least in part the result of a population boom of unexpected magnitude...

Read the whole article at

Transurban to pursue $100m over tunnel |

Clay Lucas

CITYLINK operator Transurban has told the Brumby Government it would be eligible for up to $100 million in compensation for lost traffic revenue if Sir Rod Eddington's proposed $9 billion east-west road tunnel proceeds.

Premier John Brumby will announce a transport statement in late October, and is believed to support Sir Rod's proposed road tunnel, which would run from Footscray to Clifton Hill. But under contracts signed with the Kennett government in 1995, Transurban can seek compensation from the government if new projects take business — cars and trucks — from CityLink.

Sir Rod's proposed tunnel would travel from Footscray to CityLink before surfacing near Royal Park. It would go underground again before surfacing in Clifton Hill at the Eastern Freeway entrance.

The road would be an alternative route to CityLink and would likely result in a loss of revenue for Transurban...

Read the entire article at

Hmm... Let's not forget that many people's reading of Page 75 of the engineering report underlying the Eddington report also says that the tunnel would surface at J.J. Holland park " enrich the driver experience...", not just at Royal Park as the author suggests.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Transport Forum, Footscray - another take on it

One more friend of gives her opinion of the Minister Kosky's forum

I was amazed to be informed there is no transport plan and that one is due in October 2008 .How can there be no plan??? We as participants were expected to formulate strategies and goals as to what are the priorities in transport on a totally blank page. I don't know how we can be expected to formulate transport policy in a vacuum .It was all very cliché

Without the backdrop of some form of plan to bounce off the session descended into groping for cliches. The answers we gave were the bleeding obvious: get cars off the road, increase public transport and increase cycling and walking opportunities and put freight on rail. Some of the suggestions included Copenhagen style lanes (if I had a penny ...), embracing Melbourne 2030 (I think the Government has well and truly given up on that one) and decentralise the employment centres, allow bus only lanes and allow freight hubs. The guys from Port Philip were very erudite in their observations firstly Port Phillip has already designed the bike lanes (down Fitzroy Street and around Albert park lake and up to Cecil Street in South Melbourne)and they said the government had been sitting on approving the freight hub in Laverton for no apparent reason.

We were then provided were a task at each table they were broken up to public transport, freight ,planning (which I will talk about later),social change ,roads and one subject I cannot recall.

I was on the table about social change there were suggestions that the "opportunities" were working out the priority of road users eg. Bikes ,walking and public transport were priorities and down a scale where single occupant vehicles are the last priority ,the pricing (including increasing petrol prices and tolls) and reducing public transport ticket prices encouraging cycling and walking by making it safe and (wait for it) Copenhagen style lanes ,elevating the bus from the poor cousin status and try to make it attractive for the middle class to take the bus. My input was that there was the challenge of preserving the inner city integrity including open spaces.

I also thought that we needed as a community to accept there has been social change and that it was necessary for the Government to step up to the challenge and embrace the social change -there is no point in leaving your car behind and deciding to take a tram or a train and you cannot get onto the tram or train or that you decide to ride but in doing so you take your life into your own hands as you compete with a semi-trailer for road space.

I then went onto the planning table which to say the least was interesting. A few on the table had already identified preserving open space as a priority ,the facilitator was trying to guide us to requiring planning schemes and overlay or demographic reports which the reflect the impact on a local community of loss of open space. As I pointed out we have all the planning schemes and government policies (see the submission by @leisure) we need to preserve open space but what needs to happen is that the Government needs to adhere to its on policies and the planning policies of local government. Don Nardella ALP member for Melton said words to the effect that when the desalination plant was completed Melton would have plenty water to water their playing fields and the inner city kids could go out there.

Rob and I then went to speak to the Minister about JJ Holland Park. She queried whether it was just the park we were concerned with or the road tunnel itself. We responded it was both .She then proceeded to say that she was stuck on the Westgate freeway and something had to be done for the West (which reflects the Gillard -Shorten submission it appears that this is now the new dog whistling of the Government- they have moved from connecting the Eastern Freeway to the West to we need to relieve the congestion off the Westgate to allow the West access to the CBD.She rationalised it as this if you have a road tunnel and the freight trucks that are heading East use the Eddington Road Tunnel instead of the Westgate the "modelling" as she put it plays out that this will alleviate the congestion on the Westgate. I then had a light bulb moment: I realised - the Eddington Road Tunnel is all about freight. It is that simple -I have not been able to understand it until now because the Eddington report could did not justify the road tunnel and in fact as Mike Scott from Plainsphere summarised about the Eddington Report in his submission stated :

" A whole chapter is devoted to advancing the argument that there is latent demand for a new east-west route crossing the Maribyrnong River. Latent, because the counts at the Eastern Freeway exit fail to justify such a link. Evidence of need has been inferred from screen counts as far a field as Brunswick and the CBD.

This "predict" analysis takes little or no account of the impact of anticipated federal climate change initiatives that will arise from the Garnaut process. Nor does it give weight to current state policies aimed at improving the sustainability of the metro-urban form, such as Melbourne 2030."

However the most articulate and pithy comment of the day went to Carlo Carli member for Brunswick (and the spiritual leader of the No Road Tunnel Campaign)-what about the elephant in the room - the Eddington Road tunnel? Good question Carlo -maybe we need to workshop that.

Jane Good

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Transport Forum, Footscray, 12th August 2008

The Minister of Transport, Lynn Kosky is holding a number of transport forums across Melbourne, Taralgon, Geelong etc. Attendance was by invitation only- very unclear how this process was decided, but if anyone is interested in going to the other forums, you can do so by notifying the Department of Transport. A number of friends of were lucky enought to be invited to the forum in Footscray this morning. This is one person's account of the morning. We're expecting to be able to post several more.

At the start of the forum, we were advised that the scope was much broader than the Eddington Report- indeed they did such a good job on making sure the conversation was not about the Eddington Report, it was rarely mentioned. As someone noted- no-one talked about the elephant (white) in the corner. The tunnel (white elephant 1) and "Myki" (white elephant 2) were notable by their absence in a Melbourne Transport Forum

There was a number of MP's there- Don Nardella (pro roads, tunnels, freeways, more cars, roads, tunnels, freeways etc) and Carlo Carli (anti-tunnel). As I listened to the various contributors, it dawned on me freeways and tunnels are "macho" and popular with older men. Carli (SNAG) summed up the forum as "a complete waste of time".

Which it was. If the State Government are as far behind with transport and planning issues as this forum suggests they are, Victorians should be concerned. They talked about integrated transport options like it was some new revolutionary concept. We didn't become a City of 3.5 million people without some transport integration policies. As it didn't get mentioned much before- I will mention it again- isn't Myki an integrated ticketing system?

The Government is trying to convince us the sudden rise in public transport patronage was not something they could have foreseen. The implications of this assertion are damning and provide little reassurance in their ability to deal with serious transport issues and planning at the most fundamental level.

The movement of freight is identified as a big issue with a four-fold increase in the amount of movements around the docks in the next few years. Dredging the Bay allows larger cargo ships to deliver more containers. The Government promoted dredging the bay as 'progress' without considering the impact on transport infrastructure. One policy creates the problem. They now need to develop another to fix it.

It is similar to their ability to approve massive subdivisions on the fringes of Melbourne with no thought of transport considerations. How could they be expected to know people need to travel from where they live to where they work? ( They do not have a crystal ball).

The most illuminating part of the morning was an informal discussion with Minister Kosky. It appears alternatives to using Holland Park are under consideration. They are convinced of the need for the tunnel saying Eddington report shows there is a huge demand particularly for the movement of freight. We queried her figures and said the Eddington Report did not clearly demonstrate the need for a tunnel. Also, freight from the docks did not generally go in an easterly direction. Her "quirky" example to prove us wrong - delivery trucks from the docks to Malvern(?)

So overall, not much to report as not much was said. The strongest impression was that the Government do not have the slightest idea of where to go with this stuff (and do not know how to get from the Docks to Malvern). They are making it up as they go along and flapping around like ducks on water.

The Premier is hosting another forum in September for traffic and planning experts to attend. If today's forum is an example of what we can expect, the words 'considered', 'focussed' and 'visionary' do not come to mind. More accurate words are 'ad hoc', 'muddled' and 'directionless'. Despite widespread confusion and the complete absence of any meaningful policies- the road tunnel is very much still on the agenda. The Government keep saying "they are not ruling anything in and they are not ruling anything out" (borrowed from "the Hollowmen"). The problem is- in private discussions with State Government Ministers, they do keep ruling the tunnel "in".

One wonders if this was a serious attempt to shape a very confused transport policy, or another community consultation box they can tick for whenever they announce decision to build the tunnel.

Robert Gilfillan

Doubt on homes in road plan

Brad Ryan

LOCAL state MPs have ducked questions about home acquisitions as the State Government considers whether to act on Sir Rod Eddington's transport report.

After a call for public comment on the proposals, the Government has more than 2000 submissions to sort.

Most debate has centred on the proposed 18km road tunnel linking the West with the Eastern Freeway, with many submissions from individuals lobbying to protect homes and parks.

In a joint submission, state Labor MPs Wade Noonan (Williamstown) and Marsha Thomson (Footscray) pledged in-principle support for the tunnel.

Of the two tunnel options in the report, the MPs said they preferred a tunnel under Footscray connecting the port area to Geelong and Sunshine roads, rather than a raised road to the West Gate Freeway.

The Eddington Report says "property acquisitions would be required" if either road-tunnel option was adopted, but both MPs said it was too early to discuss this.

"We're terribly mindful of that and would consult heavily with communities that could be affected," Mr Noonan said.

Federal Labor MPs Nicola Roxon (Gellibrand), Bill Shorten (Maribyrnong), Julia Gillard (Lalor) and Brendan O'Connor (Gorton) also jointly supported the tunnel, which shares some identical text with the Thomson-Noonan submission.

"As the EWLNA report stresses, the consequences of 'doing nothing' are negative and far-reaching," both submissions identically state.

The Government is expected to announce its decision on the report in November.

Read the original article at

Fears tunnel could impact on homes

By Belinda Nolan
12th August 2008 11:05:37 AM

Confused...Seddon residents Jenny and her mother Evelyn and neighbour Betty (background) are concerned with the lack of detail in the Eddington report.

MARIBYRNONG residents fear they could lose their homes if the road tunnel proposed in Eddington’s East West Link Needs Assessment goes ahead.

More than 50 concerned residents from West Footscray, Yarraville and Seddon attended a public meeting last Monday night, to organise a campaign against the recommendation.

Top of the list were concerns many homes would be compulsorily acquired to make way for the tunnel and elevated freeway that is proposed to link the Western suburbs to the Eastern freeway.

West Footscray resident Susan Stricevic said she and her husband had lived in their Rupert St home for 28 years.

“If they decide to build an overpass what’s going to happen to everyone’s houses?” she asked.

Footscray resident Linda Cargill echoed her concerns.

“Under option B (one of the possibilities outlined in the Eddington paper), the road is going to go over my house, which means my house is going to have to be acquired by the government.”

“For people in this area of Yarraville, which is around Hyde St, they’re going to have an elevated freeway bordering their properties and just in terms of physical amenities, that’s going to be quite disastrous for some people,” she said.

Residents also voiced concerns that the roadway could have a negative impact on the environment.

While the tunnel plan was developed partly to tackle the congestion problem, many believed it would have the opposite effect.

“I don’t think there’s any evidence that building a lot of freeways in the long term alleviates congestion. It could actually promote more and more people to get in their cars,” said Seddon man Adam Shepard.

The gathering was the second in a series of public meetings organised by Greens MLC Colleen Hartland.

She was joined on the night by Maribyrnong councillor Janet Rice.

Ms Hartland said there was a real danger people could lose their homes if the tunnel plan went ahead.

“Quite clearly in the Eddington report it says homes would be at risk. I think they would be vulnerable, was the term they used.”

Ms Hartland said one of the biggest problems with the proposal was a lack of information about where exactly the new infrastructure would go.

“The maps in the report are very vague and it’s difficult to say which houses will be effected,” she said.

Ms Hartland said she would be holding further meetings toassist the community in organising their campaign.

She said several neighbourhood action groups had already been established and the next step would be to co-ordinate those groups into a larger, Melbourne-wide body.

Ms Hartland encouraged people to unite to campaign against the road tunnel.

Read the original article at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Social gap widens from outer to inner Melbourne - The Age

by Clay Lucas

SUBURBIA is bearing the brunt of rising fuel prices and extreme mortgage stress, a major study of Australian cities has found.

Governments must step in to provide outer suburbs with better public transport or risk extreme social breakdown, it warned.

The report, Unsettling Suburbia, for the first time combines the 2006 census figures on car use, mortgage levels and income.

Outer suburban households are under the greatest stress from petrol prices and mortgage levels as a percentage of income, according to the Griffith University's urban planning unit report.

Melbourne's outer suburbs were far more vulnerable to rising fuel prices than the middle and inner suburbs, it warned.

"The households that will have the greatest (problem) coping with higher transport and housing costs are among those with the least resources and weakest access to local infrastructure," authors Jago Dodson and Neil Sipe said.

They warn of a greater social divide between inner Melbourne, which has better access to public transport, and outer suburbs where residents have little option but to drive.

Residents of inner and middle suburbs use their cars less and take far shorter trips, the study found...


...It criticised state governments in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland for proposing "grossly expensive" rail projects to combat transport problems.

In Melbourne, Sir Rod Eddington has proposed a $7 billion rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield. Feasibility studies into a $7 billion CBD rail underground have begun in Brisbane and a $12 billion metro is planned for Sydney.

"These schemes direct new investment to central and middle suburban areas — the zones already well served by high quality public transport," the study found. Infrastructure funding should be re-directed to the outer suburbs, the report advised.

"Modest extensions to existing suburban rail networks, combined with comprehensively planned and high quality local suburban bus services, would be a cheaper and more sustainable option."

Read the whole article at

Green or greed? The battle for our suburban parklands - The Age

by Peter Hodge

HERE is a challenge.The next time it tickles your fancy to scale the heights of the Rialto or Eureka towers, look towards the northern suburbs of Melbourne from the observation deck and try to spot the parkland. There's Princes Park and Royal Park, although yet another large chunk of the latter is under threat from the Eddington report's road tunnel.

Much further north, on a clear day, you might spy a sliver of greenery, parkland on either side of Coburg Lake. Just to the east of that, running north alongside Edgars Creek from its confluence with Merri Creek, is a 6.5-hectare tract of fully functional parkland. Owned by VicRoads, it is under threat of being sold off to developers unless Moreland City Council can find $10 million to buy it.

Research conducted by Professor David Crawford, research fellow at Deakin University (as reported in The Age, 4/7), has shown that "rich suburbs have better-equipped parks". The northern suburbs have a greater dilemma though — hanging on to the precious little parkland they already have...


...If Pascoe Vale were a marginal electorate, I suspect this issue would have been resolved before the last state election. Planning Minister Justin Madden and Minister for Roads Tim Pallas have a clear choice here: another blatant grab for cash, or a principled, commonsense decision in keeping with the Melbourne 2030 plan and to the benefit of thousands of Melburnians.

If our governments cannot even follow their own plans to protect our valuable public open space, what hope do we have of meeting greater challenges such as warding off the extreme effects of global warming?

Read the entire article in

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cyclists' view 'blocked' - The Age

Road transport comes first, it seems...

Reid Sexton
August 10, 2008

A NEW section of bike path on Footscray Road is the most dangerous in Melbourne because oncoming traffic cannot be seen by riders until they are just metres from an intersection, a bicycle group claims.

The contentious section is part of the Footscray Road Bike Path, used by about 260 people an hour during peak times. It was reopened two weeks ago after being raised as part of the construction of an adjacent bridge.

Bicycle Victoria says a new safety wall blocks cyclists' sight, forcing them to cross the intersection of Footscray and Appleton Dock roads without knowing how close the traffic is on the 60 km/h bridge.

The pathway is the main route used by cyclists from the inner-west to reach the city and its rate of use is growing faster than any other bike path in the state, with a 40% jump in users in the past year.

Jason den Hollander, from Bicycle Victoria, said it was only a matter of time before a rider was hit trying to negotiate the blind-spot intersection — often used by trucks turning into the docks. "Cyclists cannot see the cars until they are a few seconds away," he said.

Groups of up to 30 cyclists were crossing the intersection when they thought there was a break in traffic. "If … a car is coming, it's going to be catastrophic," he said.

Bicycle Victoria wants signals installed immediately to ensure cyclists can cross safely.

The Department of Transport refuses because only 190 trucks and cars cross the intersection each hour during the peak time; 600 are needed to qualify for a signal.

"This is just ridiculous," Mr den Hollander said, adding that a button-operated signalling system could be installed for about $200,000.

Industrial relations adviser Chris Harris, who uses the path to get from his Footscray home to his office in East Melbourne, said his commute meant he had to take a gamble on there being no oncoming cars when he crossed the intersection.

"It's hard to believe they would design a bit of new bike infrastructure this poorly," he said.

A Transport Department spokesman said the possibility of installing signals was being investigated.

Read the original article at

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Not all of the signs are from The Greens

We're a bit of a fan of home-made signs here at - and this one, spotted in Gower St, is a pearler!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eastlink operator's shares plunge - The Age

Andrea Rotondi
August 8, 2008 - 2:09PM

Everything's pointing down for the Eastlink freeway at the end of its toll-free period with a plunge in motorist numbers reflected in a savaging of its operator's share price.

- ConnectEast shares down 14.1%
- 'Too early to draw conclusions': operator
- Average 133,722 trips last week

The average number of daily trips on Melbourne's newest freeway have plunged 49% since tolling began on July 27, according to figures released today by ConnectEast.

Shares in ConnectEast, the freeway's operating company, were mauled today, plunging 14.5 cents, or 15%, to 85 cents, after earlier falling as much as 23%. It is the company's biggest one-day fall since it listed in November 2004.

Melburnians were happy to accept a free ride on the motorway during its toll-free period with 270,868 trips made on average per day.

However, the introduction of tolls, costing an average of $3.10 per trip, saw patronage plummet to an average 133,722 trips last week...

Read the whole article at

Monster truck plan by government for Victorian roads

John Ferguson

August 07, 2008 12:00am

SOME of the world's longest freight trucks would dominate Victoria's highways under a State Government plan.

The Government is looking at the benefits and risks of allowing controversial B-triple trucks and road trains on the roads.

Under the strategy, the B-triples -- at up to 36m long and weighing 82 tonnes -- would become common as part of the fight against road congestion and freight bottle-necks.

The Government will spell out its plans for the giant vehicles -- prime movers hauling three trailers -- before the end of the year.

But the move is certain to alarm some motorists. Some of the longest trucks are the length of at least eight Toyota Corollas.

They would be most common on divided roads, but would also use local roads to collect freight...


"(Roads) Minister Pallas should be engaging in extensive and well-publicised community consultation before permitted routes for B-triples are considered for extension," he said.

"Many Victorians may believe that upgrading of interstate and intrastate rail lines may be a safer, more productive and cheaper alternative."

A spokesman for Mr Pallas said the study of high-performance vehicle use in Victoria had not finished.

"This plan will be released in November and will respond to transport priorities across the state," he said.

Read the whole article at

CANCELLED: Sustainable Public Transport - No Road Tunnels

A rally jointly organised by a number of community groups.

Time: 12:45 pm for 1 pm start to approximately 2 pm
Date: Wednesday 10 September 2008
Venue: Steps of Parliament Spring Street
Major Theme: "Sustainable Public Transport - No Road Tunnels" We are inviting speakers on this subject and will have a joint deputation to the Premier after the meeting.
Contact: Julianne Bell Phone: 98184114 or 0408022408.

MEETING : Better Public Transport - No Road Tunnel

Organiser - Protectors of Public Land inc.

Time: 12:45 pm for 1 pm to approximately 3 pm (including afternoon tea.)

Date: Saturday 9 August 2008

Venue: Upstairs, Nth Melbourne Library 66 Errol St. North Melbourne. (Two doors along from the corner of Queensberry and Errol Streets)

Transport: No 57 Tram from Elizabeth Street or nearby streets for parking.

Contact: Julianne Bell 98184114 or 0408022408

Subject: "Better Public Transport - No Road Tunnels." In addition to opposing Sir Rod Eddington's mega road tunnels, we are campaigning on "Bring Back The Connies" (Tram Conductors) and so improve public transport. At this meeting we are showing short films from up-and-coming Film Directors. This will include Lester Francois' documentary "Tram State" which follows four ticket inspectors as they patrol the public transport system. In addition, Doug Jordan known to many Melburnians as one of the hosts on the 3 CR City Limits program but also a former Tram Conductor, will speak on "Why Melbourne Needs Tram Conductors".

Open Mike: We want to hear from member groups the latest news of your campaigns

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's too late to put the car genie back in the bottle

Indicative opinion piece in today's by Sean Carney. A few highlights...

...When the 1990 tramways union blockade over changes to the ticket system (yes, children, unions did have that much power once upon a time) brought the system to a halt, I made a shocking discovery: it took only 35 minutes to walk into work - quicker than the tram! Even after that I stayed with the trams, until in a single month I calculated that I spent roughly two hours each week hanging around tram stops. I bought a car and started driving it to work. Most mornings it took eight minutes. Most evenings it took 10. I confess: I made Melbourne's air dirtier, but I got back about 90 hours of my life each year...
So let's drop the utopian notions of an Australia where everyone can have a train station or a light rail nearby and the services are frequent and trouble-free. If it ever happened, and maybe it did 50 years ago, it cannot happen now. We treasure that little private capsule, insulated from the outside world, where we can abuse talkback callers or listen to our favourite music. We love our cars and we want to keep them. The challenge is to find ways to make cars safer and cleaner. And not to feel so bad when we enjoy one of humanity's greatest inventions.

Read the whole article at

It's not this article I like to focus upon (although it does let us know the mindset we are up against), it the letters to the editor, in response.

I'd rather skip to my loo, than drive

"AUSTRALIANS love their cars. Nine out of 10 households have a car." Shaun Carney (Comment & Debate, 6/8) must believe there is an unassailable logic connecting these two statements. What would he make of this: ``Australians love their toilets. Nearly 100% of households have one.'' The difference is, toilets don't consume around 15% of the household budget. Very few people are killed by the operation of or pollution from toilets.

Toilets may be indispensable, but the best thing most people would say about their cars is that they are a necessary evil. In many suburbs, car ownership rates are a lot lower and the amount of kilometres driven in them lower still. Even in the outer suburbs, people who live within a short walk of a railway station are many times more likely to use it.

Does Shaun believe these people are part of some aberrant minority, perversely holding out against his ``national (car) culture''? Or are they simply the lucky ones, who've snapped up property in an area that historically had good public transport?

Greg Barber MLC, Greens MP for Northern Metropolitan region

Paradise? Sounds like hell

WELL, thank you Shaun Carney, that's sorted that out! All red-blooded Australians love their cars and should be able to drive them as and when they like.

Shaun's premise leads to sprawling suburbs with no public transport, jobs a long drive away and hulking stand-alone shopping centres with an identical mix of shops. After we create this paradise, we find the congestion is appalling, and then start to knock down some of the less car-based inner suburbs to impose monolithic urban motorways so everyone can drive from one suburb to another a little faster.

John McPherson, Collingwood

Have bike, will travel

IT IS too simplistic to argue that because Australians love their cars, they always will. The twin challenges of climate change and increasingly scarce and expensive petrol are forcing us to become much more energy and fuel efficient

Part of the solution has to be getting more people to choose public and active transport (bikes and walking) over private cars. Building more roads just adds to traffic congestion. That's not good for the environment or the economy. It is far smarter for governments to invest in public transport to help people get people out of their cars, save on fuel costs and reduce congestion.

Monica Richter, Sustainable Australia program manager, Australian Conservation Foundation

Adapt or drive

SHAUN Carney, in correctly asserting the Australian love affair with the car and the sense of independence and affluence it signifies, also essays the paralysis of selfishness which characterises our nation's resistance to an inevitable new world.

Things change, and from whichever gun the shot comes, we won't be able to dodge the bullet. Public transport may grow wildly, car ownership may plummet, and this may be one of the things that fashions a new, better and - scary as it may be - altered Australian culture.

We have become so seduced by the convenience our wealth has created that the very notion of alteration or adaptation sends us off crying foul. It's time we embraced the fear and excitement in metamorphosis, and dropped the implicit notion of immunity from change, including the way we get around. Whether it be fewer cars, electric cars or personalised rocket packs, things will be different.

Richard Webber, Melbourne

Read them in