31 July, 2013


The Public Transport Users Association has applauded the State Opposition for rejecting the $8 billion East West Link tollway.

The announcement signals that politicians are starting to understand the Victorian public want to see investment in public transport alternatives, the community group said today.

“The East West Link is a spectacular waste of money and the Opposition is doing the responsible thing by opposing it,” said PTUA President Tony Morton.  “All it does is rearrange traffic bottlenecks, when the majority of congestion is from people trying to drive into inner Melbourne because they can’t catch a train.”

But Dr Morton urged caution over the Opposition’s position.  “The Opposition appear to be suggesting they will build the same road but just start from the other end,” he said.

“We are urging them to show leadership and vision.  The best way to plan for Melbourne’s future is to provide an efficient and integrated public transport system, and the most competitive global cities are those that provide access through effective mass transit.”

“The Opposition’s announcement today is welcome, yet the old habit of defaulting to road building needs to change, and the Opposition still has some way to go before their plan addresses the transport challenges of the next 50 years,” Dr Morton said.

Dr Morton urged the opposition to support the PTUA’s alternative package for transport investment including:

• Staged roll-out of high capacity signalling on the metropolitan train network to boost system capacity.
• An expanded program of level crossing grade separations, planned as a pipeline to reduce costs.
• Staged extensions of the rail network to Melbourne Airport, Doncaster, Rowville, Mernda and Clyde, and electrification of the Melton line.
• Station staff and tram conductors to reduce station dwell times and assist passengers.
• Upgrade of suburban bus services to improve frequencies and support the train network.
• Bus and tram priority at street intersections.
• Duplication of single-track bottlenecks in the rail network, and minor tram extensions to logical termini.
• Longer-term enhancements to establish new city rail corridors, such as the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel.

“The cost estimates we’ve seen from the industry for these projects suggests most of it could be done for the same as the entire $15 billion East West motorway,” Dr Morton said. “Yet it would have avowedly greater benefit for the travelling public, for road and public transport users, for freight movement, for the economy and for Victoria.”