Labor releases alternative transport plan

Victorian Labor's election platform on transport

Victorian Labor’s election platform on transport

The Victorian opposition has released its alternative transport plan ahead of next year’s state election, but leader Daniel Andrews said he would still build the East West Link if legally binding contracts were signed prior to the election.

Victorian Labor’s transport plan, Project 10,000, was released this morning.

The plan is focused on “the increasing cost of congestion” and investment into grade-separations, the metro rail tunnel, regional roads and a proposal to remove 5,000 trucks from the Westgate Bridge.

The plan is, in part, a response to the Napthine government’s $8 billion East West Link project.

Speaking on ABC radio this morning, however, Mr Andrews said he would honour contracts to build the East West Link if they were signed prior to the state election.

He urged Premier Denis Napthine to put the East West Link to the vote by signing contracts only if the coalition won back government.

Labor’s report says the Napthine government has “sentenced people living in the suburbs of Melbourne and regional Victoria to a generation of traffic gridlock and overcrowded, unreliable public transport”.

The centrepiece of Labor’s plan is the removal of 50 level crossings throughout Melbourne in a bid to improve safety and reduce traffic bottlenecks caused by boom-gates.

The report states: “Boom gates … are already down for anywhere between 30-40 minutes in the hour during peak times”.

But the reference for this figure is an Age article quoting a PTUA spokesperson saying “it’s not uncommon to see boom gates closed for 15 or 20 minutes at a time”.

The report says car travel times in peak hour are 50 per cent longer and commuters lose a total of 81 hours a year per 30km travelled in peak hour.

Traffic congestion figures in the report are taken from the TomTom congestion index that compares on and off peak travel times.

Labor’s plan also outlines funding for the $9 billion Melbourne Metro rail tunnel.

Labor says it will then review the long-term time line for new rail projects, including bringing forward the Mernda rail extension.

A ‘West Gate Distributor’ is planned to remove 5,000 trucks per day from the city-bound lanes of the Westgate Bridge by redirecting them on a dedicated road link through Footscray directly into the Port.

This is based on information from the Port of Melbourne that the majority of trucks going to the Port travel from the west of Melbourne.

Labor plans to fund the project with the $6 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne.

Premier Napthine said the sale of the Port was a “cheap money grab” and that Labor’s plan had “no new trams, no new trains, no new buses”.

Comment from the Greens has been sought.

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