Where’s the evidence?

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Eight industry lobby groups have come out publicly in support of Melbourne’s proposed East-West Link. Alan Davies, at The Urbanist, concludes, “On the evidence available, it doesn’t seem like it’s in the best interests of their members”.

The cartel of lobby groups’ MEDIA RELEASE of 21st August raises more questions than it asks.  Members of these groups should be concerned that their lobbyists  don’t require a business case. The RACV’s extremist position is not even supported by a majority of RACV members.

What they say:

Eight of Victoria’s largest industry and membership organisations have thrown their support behind the East-West Link, saying its construction is essential to Victoria’s long term economic and social development. Stage 1 of the East-West Link will be a vital cog in the state’s road freight network and must be built if Victoria is to retain its position as the nation’s freight logistics capital.

What it means:

This project is about beating other states for more of the freight pie – good for Melbourne freight cartels but  hardly in the national interest.

What they say:

Over the next forty years, Victoria’s freight will triple and its containerised trade will quadruple. The only way Victoria will be able to manage this logistical challenge is if a pipeline of major projects such as East-West Link, Metro Rail and the North-East Link are built.

What it means:

The north-east link will be an elevated freeway over the Yarra flats at Heidi. Hardly anyone believes there will be this much growth in consumption without a catastrophe. Four times as much stuff ? What sort of lifestyle is this based on? What would the impact be on the environment? Do they understand what the world’s climate will be like in forty years?

What they say:

The cost of congestion to the Victorian economy is forecast to rise from $3 billion to over $6 billion by 2020. The construction of the East-West Link will be critical to easing Victoria’s growing
congestion burden.

What it means:

One of the signatories, The Property Council, actually supports congestion pricing rather than road building. The road, if built, would have a very limited and specific improvement to some trip types. When the RACV last polled its members for red spots, Alexandra Parade did not even appear. If this was about congestion, then level crossings and Hoddle Street would be the target, but the project actually makes congestion on Hoddle Street worse. There is already extreme congestion on the Tullamarine Freeway to the airport, that will be exacerbated by this project. Even if congestion is costing $3 billion, this road will not solve it, and will take at least $8 billion away from other vital projects that could.

What they say:

Once complete, the East-West Link will improve travel times across northern and eastern Melbourne, remove cars and trucks from local streets, reduce north-south tram delays and relieve pressure on the critical Monash Freeway – West Gate Freeway corridor (M1).

What it means:

The only travel time improvement is trips between the tunnel entrance and exits. North-south tram delays are caused by VicRoad’s priority, and there will be insignificant reduction of traffic on Alexandra Parade and local streets. By further enforcing car-dependency, the project actually works to increase local traffic. In the proposal, Alexandra Parade is still a main 6 lane route into and around the city.

What they say:

 The project will also boost state-wide productivity, reduce business costs and improve industry  competitiveness.

What it means:

Trust us on this one, this is how we’ve justified the Grand Prix for year.  State-wide productivity claims have been discredited as they cannot be substantiated. Infrastructure Australia refuses to rely on such claims.  The evidence is that trains have more productivity impacts – especially around the project corridor.

What they say:

With Melbourne’s population forecast to rise from 4.3 million to over 6.5 million by 2050, the completion of East-West Link will be crucial to protecting Victoria’s livability and economic vitality.

Our organisations consider the construction of the East-West Link to be vital to the long term health of the Victorian economy and the millions of workers it supports.

What it means:

6.5 million is a policy setting, not an inevitability. The business case was a flop, but more trucks means more vitality and livability.

 

3 thoughts on “Where’s the evidence?”

  1. Jim says:

    Why is the RACV obsessed with this project even though its membership regards it as a terrible investment? Simple. The RACV is also a commercial organisation that makes its money from car insurance and servicing. The more car dependent it can make Victorians, the more it will serve its commercial interests. Consequently they’ll spout empty lines about the need for a “balance” between public and private transport investment but this project will mean no new railways to Doncaster and the Airport for at least 30 years from the day this East-West tunnel is opened, banishing the threat of competition from an efficient mode of mass transitinto the distant future and increasing Melbourne’s car dependence. The RACV will respond with its tokenistic comeback of “buses on the freeway”. As any transport engineer and planner knows, you cannot provide the fast, competitive mass transit service to and from the CBD with buses; that can only be done with heavy rail. Buses are slow and by their nature they congest the roads. You’d need at least 40 to 80 buses to do what ONE train does during the peak period, not only because of their seating limits, but also because as buses near the city, they get slowed down dramatically by the traffic they share the road with. That’s the Achilles heel with tollways and freeways; at some point you have to get off them and the moment you do, you run into a massive jam where you crawl along at painfully slow speeds, so losing all the time you thought you had saved on the massively expensive tollway/freeway. But that doesn’t matter to RACV, because as a commercial company, the buses can only ever attract a tiny fraction of the passengers a fast and reliable train service would, ensuring the absolute dominance of car use for decades to come. The new traffic jams can then be used to justify more road construction – and so the tiger chases its tail building new expressways to “solve” traffic jams in one place only to discover that all that it has done is moved them to the new exits somewhere else. But then, that’s all good from the RACVs commercial point of view because it entrenches car dependence and that strengthens the market for the RACV’s core product, car insurance. What the members think about the need for upgrading the train system to take the pressure of the roads can go to hell.

  2. Chris Black says:

    Spot on Jim. The RACV loves the construction of motorways because it increases car dependence and the RACV’s core business is car insurance. A railway into the city would provide a fast and competitive alternative to cars that buses never could, because buses get caught up in traffic jams as they get near the city. Trains would take a lot of pressure off the roads and would reduce car dependence and in the long run. This would lead to more public demand for better public transport all over Melbourne – and this would hurt the RACV’s core business. So of course the RACV love urban motorways, even when its against their members’ interests.

    1. chrisg says:

      YCAT urges every RACV customer or member to let them know what you think about the road tunnel every time you deal with them. Especially in the lead up to the RACV board elections, where members will for the first time have an opportunity to vote for a board member who actually supports their views.
      See: http://www.knoxweekly.com.au/story/1655582/public-transport-preferred-despite-east-west-link-push/

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