Media Releases | 17th May, 2006

Government should ditch freeway plans and ‘get on track’

Wednesday, 17 May  2006

The Bracks Government’s Transport and Liveability Statement makes a substantial commitment to bus funding but fails to invest in much-needed rail extensions to Rowville and South Morang, Environment Victoria said today.

The state’s leading environment group had called on the Bracks Government to scrap plans to pour millions of dollars into expanding the Monash Freeway and to ‘get on track’ by extending the rail network to Melbourne’s public transport black holes.

Environment Victoria sustainable transport campaigner Louise Sales said: “We welcome the commitment to increase bus funding, which will certainly help people without other transport options. But the Government has missed a golden opportunity to balance decades of pro-road bias by investing in rail extensions to neglected suburbs such as Rowville.’’

Ms Sales said public transport investment would help tackle the problems of environmental decline, traffic congestion and rising petrol prices.

“If the Government is serious about tackling the growing problems of climate change, traffic congestion and rising petrol prices then it has to tempt people out of their cars and onto public transport. Expanding freeways and even increased bus funding simply won’t achieve this.”

“International research has found cities that expand their train services significantly outperform cities that only expand bus systems when it comes to passenger numbers, distances traveled and cost effectiveness.”

Ms Sales said the Government must look beyond freeway expansions if it is serious about achieving its target of 20 per cent of motorised trips on public transport by 2020.

“The Victorian Competition & Efficiency Commission inquiry into managing transport congestion showed that building more roads just creates more congestion by encouraging more people to drive. Smart cities such as Vancouver – now the World’s most liveable city –stopped building freeways decades ago.”

“The Government has clearly failed to take on board the recommendations of the VCEC report which include substantial extensions to the rail network. The report also called for VicRoads to lose its role in policy development which would address decades of pro-roading bias in transport planning.”