After decades of far too little in investment in public transport, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, our roads are now grindng to a halt. Gridlock, or near gridlock, is choking Melbourne. Short journeys that take 20 minutes in no traffic can now take over an hour.
VicRoads is part of the problem. When you have a government department with a brief to build and manage roads that consume most of the transport budget, all you get is roads and freeways.
No one in transport or government seems to understand basic maths about how may cars it takes to move too few people - and when the system grinds to a halt.
So now "Smartroads" is announced. While this seems to be step in the right direction - trying to optimise road use between multiple types of transport - in reality this is what VicRoads has been attempting to do unsuccessfully for the last decade and prior.
The basic assumption that roads - and shared usage - will solve transport needs in a big city is incorrect.
Trying to juggle usage patterns according to the time of day is futile too. Peak hour used to be when everybody wants to travel, but now we have constant "peak hour" in many places over much of the day - including on weekends. Cars and trucks get in the way of cyclists, trams and buses at all times.
The solutions we need are:
- Convert Melbourne's tram network into a dedicated light rail metro, free from interference by cars and trucks
- Provide safe dedicated cycling routes that allow commuters to travel up to 50km into and across Melbourne from all directions. Bike lanes painted on lines that cars drive across, or bike routes based on the "time of day" won't work
- Build more heavy rail - Melbourne's population has increased by over 3 million people with no more rail infrastructure added to service new suburbs.
- Introduce a congestion tax on cars travelling with less than two people in central Melbourne.
- Genuine public consultation on transport options rather than government departments and politicians dressing up "business as usual" as something new.