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

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