Public transport – the train in the room

Scienceworks

By Andrew Herington.

The total lack of discussion about public transport in the LMA evidence was a glaring omission.

Six presentations by community members on day 22 highlighted a range of transport issues. The common theme was the lack of planning for complementary public transport and bicycle facilities and the narrow focus on a one tunnel solution.

The claim that trams will benefit has been thoroughly debunked as traffic on Alexandra Pde in 2031 will be very similar to today.

Under the Transport Integration Act there are various principles and “decision making criteria” that are required to be applied when making choices about priorities for transport. These provisions were intended to take the politics out and ensure that Victoria got the best value for money and the most effective projects were given the highest priority

This is exactly what is not happening in the case of the East West Link. It has become standard practice that to meet the “integrated transport” objective that bike tracks and bus lanes are normally delivered as a part of major new roads.

The Bicycle Network highlighted how this had not been done in the CIS. They have had detailed discussions with the LMA about both disruption during construction and new facilities but there is no concrete outcome and the long list of specific proposals they tabled are not part of the Performance requirements.

The Victorian Transport Action Group gave a detailed analysis of the commuter issues affecting Manningham and the sequence of steps to upgrade it in the most cost effective way – buses, light rail and heavy rail with the objective of carrying an additional 65,000+ passengers by 2031 – equivalent to 2 freeway lanes. This is similar to the projected growth that the EWL is meant to cater for.

Further examples of the lack of integrated planning were presented by Chris Goodman and me on behalf of the Yarra Campaign for Action on Transport – the removal of the rail reservation in the central easement of the freeway, the lack of detail about the promised $49 million bus upgrade and bus lanes, and the absence of a bus interchange at Victoria Park station (as recommended by Eddington).

In other projects these kinds of “associated works” are part of the overall design and committed in the planning approvals and contracts – not just referred to in vague terms in media releases.

The only presenter so far to actually advocate building the freeway, was Brian Negus from the RACV. He spoke on behalf of a number of business groups.

Mr Negus’s presentation was full of confidence but relied heavily on data, cut and pasted from the CIS – some of which has already been debunked. The committee asked a lot of questions probing Mr Negus’s repetition of furphy’s such as the claimed reduction of traffic on Alexandra Pde and the great benefits claimed to be enjoyed by tram passengers.

For the first time, the issue of the scope of the assessment panel was raised when the Chair asked VTAG to move quickly through the detail of their public transport proposal. She said this was outside the terms of reference and they needed to focus on planning issues related to the freeway itself.

Hopefully this is not a sign that the committee is narrowing the discussion. It is appropriate to present alternatives and demonstrate they are effective in order to show the freeway proposal is not the only way to address the issue.

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One Comment on “Public transport – the train in the room”

  1. Joe Edmonds April 3, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Gee these daily blogs have been worthwhile. It’s apparently more important to know whether you need a permit to remove trees than to show how poorly the project serves the State’s objectives.

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