Local Government, Transport and the
On 31st May, Friends of Banyule (FOB) held the second
in its series of public events with the guest speaker on this
occasion, current Banyule Mayor, Tom Melican.
Tom is well-versed in the topic of transport and the environment
and how groups and residents can best connect and interact with
governments at the local, state and federal levels to pursue better
solutions for their communities.
Tom is convener of the Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF), a
coalition of metropolitan Councils and interested parties that
explores and promotes more sustainable and integrated transport
solutions for Melbourne and the region.
He puts the need for more sustainable transport into practice,
commuting to work by bicycle to the city on a on a daily basis. He
sees the need to provide people, particularly in developing growth
corridors to the north and east with effective public transport
infrastructure. He is critical of governments of all political
persuasions for not maintaining sufficient spending on public
transport for the past several decades, the need for catch up now
being urgent. At current rates of population growth, the situation
However, what concerns our Mayor, is that transport spending
over recent years has been on freeways at the expense of more
efficient and less polluting rail, bus, cycling, walking and public
transport alternatives. Some of these such as Doncaster Rail,
duplication of the Hurst Bridge Line etc could be built at lower
cost. Connectivity between transport modes was also seen as key to
providing a more integrated transport system overall.
The building of more freeways such as North East Link through
public parkland (which is in his view is not sufficiently valued as
a community well being environmental resource) as well as built up
areas, would only succeed in splitting communities along the route
in two and, adding more traffic to already crowded arterial roads
including the Eastern Freeway. He noted that Vic roads in his view
were allowing increasing traffic congestion on Rosanna Rd to get
worse (eg; since widening Greensborough Highway and Yan Yean Rd,
completion of East Link etc), effectively increasing pressure from
residents to push for the freeway option (it was noted that as the
likely operating date was potentially almost a decade away,
congestion would worsen if VicRoads took no action on traffic
management in the meantime).
He noted there were powerful lobby groups including Dept. of
Transport VicRoads, RACV, road contractors, freight operators and
other organisations which apply significant pressure on governments
at all levels to continue building roads instead of public
transport, the East West Link, road tunnel/freeway being a current
example. At a cost of around $10b for the proposed road, a similar
amount to the NE Link through Banyule (the next dots to join on
VicRoads map), there were insufficient funds available.
Infrastructure Australia the federal government's funding arm,
having previously refused funding for either of these projects.
This would make it more likely he said if they did proceed, they
would be built above ground. It was also likely they would be
tolled roads to provide a return to investors if built as Public
Private Partnerships (PPPs). On a cost benefit basis, the figures
did not add up in providing value for taxpayer dollars of
The cost of congestion including parking, should also be
considered in any comparisons with public transport in
infrastructure spending he noted, citing situations overseas
including London where road pricing measures had reduced congestion
and major metro rail and bus services provided efficient public
transport, moving large numbers of people. Large volumes of
passenger vehicles are the major causes of congestion. The freight
& Logistics Council recognises this and advocates for public
transport to reduce car numbers and overall congestion.
The Victorian Government he said does not have "Plan B", further
expanding outer suburbs without sufficient infrastructure and
missing out on federal funding. The Municipal Association of
Victoria (MAV) does not have any effective transport
policy, leaving development to the State Government or lobby
Local groups he said needed to the counter the powerful lobby
organisations mentioned who dominate the print and electronic
media. Residents and community groups needed to lobby governments
at local and state levels as well as well the federal level,
raising the profile of these issues in the media and acting
collectively to ensure that their voice is heard.
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