The State Government must end the roll-out of elaborate freeway plans and massively invest in public transport, a coalition of protestors demanded at today’s VECCI summit.
The Coalition for People’s Transport, armed with a giant cardboard train on the steps of Parliament, condemned a proposal for new road projects by the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry, released at the summit.
The Coalition, which includes the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) and Environment Victoria, criticised Transport Minister Peter Batchelor and VECCI for undermining Melbourne’s future with unnecessary and costly large road proposals.
Coalition spokesperson Cath Smith, VCOSS CEO, said that with petrol prices set to rise further, Melbournians urgently need alternatives to the car or the city would grind to a halt.
“Currently many parts of Melbourne have no accessible public transport,” said Ms Smith.
“The success of the Government’s major plan for Melbourne, Melbourne 2030, relies upon significant investment in public transport that is not being delivered. It is time for a complete reprioritisation away from new freeways and roads and into public transport, if Melbourne is to maintain a strong economy in an era of increasing petrol prices.”
Environment Victoria’s Executive Director Marcus Godinho said weekend media reports highlighted that Melbourne’s transport network was failing and losing out to roads, while the State Government was “the most freeway-friendly” in Victoria’s history.
“VECCI is correct that Melbourne sorely needs more transport infrastructure – but not new roads. Investment is badly needed to extend the city’s train, tram and bus network and improve connectivity between different transport modes,” he said.
PTUA spokesperson Beth Driscoll said that increasing Melbourne’s road capacity would only bring more cars, congestion and pollution onto already crowded city streets.
“At a time of skyrocketing petrol prices and burgeoning climate change, the last thing Melbourne needs is more large-scale road projects,” said Ms Driscoll.
“Melbourne’s public interest would be far better served by a significant investment in public transport. Improving public transport to such an extent that people are tempted out of their cars will cut congestion and save Melbournians millions in petrol spending.”
The Coalition for People’s Transport is a group working for transport for a liveable Melbourne. Its members include community and social justice organisations, environment groups, local government organisations, disability advocates and transport users. VCOSS and Environment Victoria (EV) are the founding and executive members of the Coalition.