Where the rubber hits the road

Greens Senate Candidate Warns on Urban Sprawl and Need for Transport Reform

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Greens Senate candidate and transport analyst, Janet Rice, sounded a strong warning that urban sprawl in Melbourne's northern suburbs will accelerate pressure for the North-East Link freeway through Banyule. Ms Rice was speaking at our third public event for 2012 on Thursday 30 August held at the Old Shire Offices in Heidelberg.

The outer suburbs of Melbourne have very poor public transport, Ms Rice said, which compels people to drive cars. Only about 14% of Melburnians take public transport to work and the figure is much lower in outer suburbs.  New developments in the growth areas are now being developed by the Victorian government that have very poor access to public transport. For instance, the main township for the new development at Lockerbie near Kalkallo in the northern growth corridor is kilometres away from the Donnybrook railway station, and there is no firm commitment for a new station closer to the town centre, let alone an electrified suburban service at the time when development occurs.

"I'd say it's more than likely that this development will suffer the same fate as South Morang and Mernda and the train service will be decades late", Ms Rice said.

Major opportunities were also being lost by the government for infill residential development in existing suburbs like Broadmeadows which do have better quality public transport, Ms Rice said

Car dominance imposes major additionaI costs, not least to health (users of public transport almost always get necessary daily exercise to stay healthy), the cost to households of running cars, and contribution to climate change (in Australia transport contributes 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions).

Ms Rice said that the major planning impact is the sheer amount of space taken by roads relative to public transport and walking and cycling. Valuable urban space taken by roads equates to diminished space for other purposes, including housing, parkland and farming. The Victorian government should be targeting a one third share of trips for each of public transport, walking and cycling and by private motor vehicle. This would resolve road congestion and relieve pressure for roads spending, and free urban space for more valuable uses.

The Baillieu government's promise for an integrated approach to transport and planning made during the 2010 state election now appears to be well and truly broken. Doncaster rail is looking ever more distant with Baillieu's renewed zeal to pursue the East West toll road through the CBD and focus on the North East Link through Banyule. Therefore our efforts need to be redoubled to ensure that we all have a sustainable future and save our parklands and open spaces.

Related article:

Six new suburbs but little public transport I The Age I 14 June 2012

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