Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rail not Road - East West Tunnel is wrong priority

On July 1 the carbon price was introduced. The whole point of doing this is to reduce our carbon emissions. One of the greatest challenges facing the 21st century is the challenge of climate change. We cannot tackle climate change by building more roads. By all means let us build transport infrastructure- let’s be a nation of builders- but let it be public transport infrastructure. We cannot build our way out of congestion. We have been trying it for years and it does not work.

The cost of this project was said two years ago to be $10 billion. Now it is said to be $5 billion, with the Tony Abbott proposed contribution of $1.5 billion. You know what will happen - motorists will have to pay tolls to use it. But whatever the amount of public money involved, the East West Tunnel is the wrong priority. This money should go towards public transport in Melbourne - building a railway line to Doncaster along the Eastern Freeway, building a rail link to Monash University, improving the inner network capacity to take more frequent rail services.

This will not help traffic congestion in Melbourne. For years we have been told that one more freeway would solve Melbourne’s traffic congestion problems. I supported City Link, I supported East Link, I supported the Metropolitan Ring Road, I supported the Craigieburn By-pass. But it never works. As many studies around the world have shown, freeways generate new traffic and new trips.

So it would be better to put public money into public transport. This will do more to help traffic congestion, more to contain carbon emissions, and more to help people who don’t drive cars, for example younger people, older people and people with disabilities.

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