Andrews sold a pup

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YCAT Editorial

There are still people who think the solution to congestion is more traffic.

WesternDistributorApr2015

The government announced its intention to proceed with an unsolicited bid from Transurban to fatten up the freeways feeding into highly profitable toll roads. Transurban paid just $3 million tax after collecting $1 billion in tolls.

Transurban has been calling the shots on Melbourne’s transport strategy for a long time. This is a very opportunistic way to transfer even more wealth from western suburbs dwellers to the multinational conglomerate.

A proposal without any provision for buses should be condemned.

Transurban has consistently blocked the provision of dedicated bus lanes on assets that it controls. The fear is that when toll-paying motorists stuck in a traffic see a bus zipping past them in a clear lane,  they may change their behaviour. This is not in the interests of their shareholders, despite being in the public interest.

A dedicated bus lane on the Tullamarine toll road would make Skybus a both faster and more reliable alternative. This would cost to the public very little, especially in comparison to an Airport Rail. While trains are preferred for moving large numbers of people into the CBD, buses come into their own in less concentrated suburbs. Congestion issues in the dispersed Western suburbs’ could be significantly aleviated by dedicated bus lanes and a serious provison of bus services along main arterials and toll roads. A bus that gets stuck in the same traffic jam is not an attractive proposition for anyone.

It is a disgrace that the West Gate bridge has no dedicated bus lanes. A properly functioning commuter bus lane can replace many lanes of peak-hour traffic without requiring the government to spend so much on infrastructure.

The Andrews government seems to have bought the toll operator’s proposal hook line and sinker. This is a concern, given the announcement of Infrastructure Victoria to determine transport priorities separately from the media cycle and political agenda that has led to massive waste.

There are still people who think the solution to congestion is more traffic. Sadly, they are sold this lie by the one percent who control both the media and transport funding.

When Dennis Napthine was grasping for a project, he was sold a pup. It was his undoing. The Andrews Government has fallen for the same shiny trap.

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