A parking levy will encourage drivers to leave the car at home and instead catch public transport, the state’s peak green group said.
“If we are to tackle such problems as congestion, sky-rocketing petrol prices and growing pollution levels then Melbourne must wean itself off the car,” said Environment Victoria’s Executive Director, Marcus Godinho.
“We welcome the State Government’s long-stay parking levy – particularly today being Car Free Day. The levy goes some way to addressing these concerns by encouraging people out of their cars.”
He said other cities in Australia and around the world that were grappling with congestion had introduced parking levies to send the right price signal to commuters.
“Car travel will increase by 30% by 2015 if present trends continue. So maybe the new levy is not going to be high enough to cause a quick change – the change that London experienced with an eight pound charge on all cars – but it is a step in the right direction.
“This city’s addiction to the car is unsustainable. The fact that motor vehicle pollution causes 200 deaths each year in Melbourne is proof of that.”
Mr Godinho said public transport, cycling and walking were the best solutions to our transport woes. But, he added, the Government must urgently increase funds into public transport.
“Melbourne’s public transport is in a shabby condition. Commuters are too frequently left lamenting, waiting for cancelled trains, frustrated by poor timetables and infrequent services,” he said.
“We would urge the Government to direct all revenue from the parking levy into improving public transport.
“Only by investing in public transport and cycle lanes will traffic congestion be effectively reduced.”
Mr Godinho said from an environmental and social perspective it was much better to put a small tax on cars than to raise the cost of public transport.
“Melbourne is a great city, with great residents, but we simply cannot continue our current transport trends if we are to keep it that way.”