A State Government inquiry into traffic congestion is long overdue and must urgently recommend a moratorium on new roads and a massive investment into sustainable transport, said the state’s peak environment group.
“We welcome the Treasurer’s announcement of a Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) investigation into traffic congestion. Considering the sky-rocketing price of petrol and dwindling global supplies of oil, reform is urgently needed,” said Environment Victoria’s Executive Director Marcus Godinho.
“But the inquiry’s recommendations must make clear that the crisis is not in roads but in public transport. Traffic congestion can be effectively reduced but only by prioritizing investment in genuine transport alternatives for freight and cars across the state.”
He said new roads and more lanes do not solve traffic congestion. Creating incentives to drive merely attracts cars and makes even more congestion.
“Instead of more roads, more driving, more climate change pollution and more expensive oil imports we should be investing in policies that ensure less driving, better public transport, more cycling and walking.
“There should be a moratorium on major new road projects until the public transport crisis is fixed.”
Mr Godinho said:
“These figures are not surprising when you consider the state of public transport. Commuters in city and major regional areas are too frequently left lamenting, waiting for cancelled trains, frustrated by poor timetables and infrequent services.
“In some areas of Melbourne timetables haven’t been improved since the 1950s. We may be living in a 21st century world but we are being forced to use 1900s modes of transport.”
He said Australia has the highest volume of road freight per person in the world and was in urgent need of overhaul.