Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sustainable transport solutions are what we need

As I live in and travel about Melbourne, Australia, I ponder over our fixation on building, expanding and connecting more roads and freeways.

Melbourne traffic is grinding to a halt both on and off the freeways for much of the working day in many areas. Every freeway suffers big traffic jams as many use them to commute to work in their own cars, often as the single occupant.

It was apparent on my first visit to Los Angeles in the 1989 that a freeway system cannot function as an effective urban mass transit system. "Tailbacks" of waiting cars form, accidents happen, and tonnes of greenhouse gases are emitted by the vehicles using them.

Yet here in Melbourne in 2007, Eastlink is moving towards completion, another two lanes are being added to the Monash freeway, the Westgate bridge is groaning under the weight of vehicles and often gridlocked, and the state government has flagged a likely project to build a very expensive tunnel ($8b) to connect the Eastern and Tullamarine freeways - despite the fact that most motorists don't want to travel between the two - they just want to get in and out of the city.

On the Monash freeway a small section of new sound barriers cost $8m, which is more than state's entire budget for cycle paths.

The entire Eastlink project is costing about $6b, but you cannot find out the exact figure as the project is being done as a "Public Private Partnership" (PPP) so the the financials are kept secret.

No new train lines have been built since the Glen Waverley line in 1937.

We need viable low carbon emission transport options such as trains and cycle paths. At this point, there is no real government action on either.

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1 comment:

sueglossy said...

Well...with a minister and department whose intellectual capacity is that of a roast potato, I wouldn't except anything remotely beneficial to happen to Melbourne's PT anytime soon. Sack Kosky, Sack Connex and a new, accountable public agency with some talent needs to emerge.