Dingley Freeway a road to nowhere

The proposed Dingley Freeway will encourage more traffic and dump it onto local roads in the middle of Kingston, the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) warned today.

“Local and international evidence proves that building new roads doesn’t solve congestion; it just encourages more traffic,” said PTUA Treasurer Kerryn Wilmot. “Numerous freeways and bypasses have been built in Melbourne with the promise of ending congestion, and each one has filled up with more traffic creating more pollution.”

Research for a state government inquiry into congestion found that the benefits of new roadspace are eroded over time as the additional capacity encourages people to undertake more and longer journeys, and existing journeys are shifted from public transport into private cars.

“If the Dingley Freeway is built, residents of Bentleigh, Cheltenham, Oakleigh and Moorabbin can look forward to more cars and trucks on local roads,” warned Ms Wilmot. “The extra vehicles won’t suddenly disappear once they hit Warrigul Road.”

Ms Wilmot also warned that continued freeway construction was the wrong response to emerging transport challenges. “High petrol prices have taken their toll on families during this year, and drought and cyclones have shown the impact of our fossil fuel addiction on the climate,” Ms Wilmot cautioned. “Instead of blowing billions of dollars trying to build our way out of congestion, there is an urgent need to improve transport alternatives.”

In its transport statement released in May this year, the state government announced that operating hours would be extended for many bus services, however frequencies were unchanged for most services.

“Hourly bus services are effectively useless for modern lifestyles, especially if passengers need to meet a connecting service,” said Ms Wilmot. “If the government is serious about encouraging people onto public transport and reducing transport emissions, it needs to provide fast, frequent and reliable services all day, every day. Hourly buses that aren’t coordinated with train services just don’t cut it for most people.”

Ms Wilmot challenged each of the political parties to provide Kingston residents with a public transport system capable of attracting at least twice as many passengers. “The state government has set a target of doubling the share of journeys taken on public transport. Building more freeways while offering infrequent buses will not achieve that,” Ms Wilmot concluded.