Melbourne Central have used flawed assumptions to justify closing the busiest exit of the city’s second busiest train station, say the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).
Secret plans revealed earlier this week by the PTUA showed Melbourne Central is about to close the direct escalator link between Swanston Street and the station, instead forcing pedestrians to detour halfway through the shopping centre.
The PTUA has now learned that pedestrian movement studies used to support the plan assume that commuters with destinations north of the centre will suddenly switch to using the La Trobe Street exit.
“There is no basis for this”, said PTUA president Daniel Bowen. “They have ignored the fact that thousands of people using the exit they want to close are changing onto trams. In fact so many people change to Swanston Street trams that every peak hour M>Tram provide attendants for crowd control. Melbourne Central have completely ignored the implications for transport users.”
Mr Bowen said the study admitted it ignored tram users, the study stating: “The assessment has focussed on internal access however linkages external to the site will influence the success of the centre. Links to trams at Swanston Street will require further investigation.”
The study also admitted that the planned three escalators to street level would be insufficient to cope with expected demand, ensuring a delay for people transferring from trains to trams.
“They’ve put obstacles all the way along the path that thousands will use every day”, said Mr Bowen. “There aren’t enough escalators, and the corridors they intend to coral people through are too narrow. It’s going to be slow going during peak hour – and a nightmare for anyone in a wheelchair or travelling against the peak flow.”
Mr Bowen called on Transport Minister Peter Batchelor and Planning Minister Mary Delahunty to intervene immediately to protect the current direct station access to Swanston Street. “This change is a disaster for public transport. It must be stopped. The existing exit must be kept open”, he concluded.
The exit Melbourne Central plans to close
Melbourne Central’s study into pedestrian flow through the centre failed to take passengers into account
October 2003: Melbourne Central Station Plans