Spending: Roads versus Public transport

Here is more detail of figures published in today’s Age, in the article New road cash five times funding of rail.

There are sometimes claims of “balance” between public transport and roads, but in the past ten years, some five times more has been spent expanding Melbourne’s road network ($1.7 billion), compared to building tram and train extensions ($322 million). Even now, new government road spending is double new public transport spending. If private tollways are counted, more than four times as much has been spent on new roads in the past ten years than public transport infrastructure.

Transport network expansion is not really about dealing with how people travel now — it’s about how you want them to travel in the future. The saying “build it, and they will come” applies here — if we want more people to travel by road, we should keep expanding the road network. If we want more people to travel by public transport, we should provide more public transport.

Where the money goes will determine whether in the future we have more cars on the road, more pollution, more greenhouse emissions and more exposure to rising petrol prices, or a cleaner, more efficient city where people can get around without having to drive everywhere.

In the figures below, we’ve compared all projects that result in transport network expansion. So new freeways, bypasses, road duplication and widening is all in there. On public transport, this includes line extensions, fleet expansion, signalling and station upgrades that improve passenger throughput. Fleet replacement has been excluded, as have numerous minor road-widening projects.

Metropolitan road network expansion 1999-2008

Delivered since 1999 Year Millions
Northern ring 1999 $770.0
Hallam bypass 2003 $165.0
Plummer St bypass 2003 $19.2
Craigieburn bypass 2005 $306.0
Greensborough bypass 2006 $17.2
Tullamarine/Calder 2007 $150.0
Pakenham bypass 2007 $242.0
South Road extension 2007 $24.5
Plenty Road duplication 2007 $32.0
Somerton Road duplication 2007 $33.7
Total since 1999 $1,759.6

Metropolitan public transport network expansion 1999-2008

Delivered since 1999 Year Millions
Sydenham electrification 2002 $44.0
Docklands tram loop 2003 $2.0
Box Hill tram 2003 $28.0
Docklands Dr tram 2005 $7.5
Vermont S tram 2005 $43.0
Misc interchange upgrades 2005 $20.0
Flinders St upgrade 2005 $23.0
Think Tram initial programme 2005 $30.0
Misc station upgrades 2006 $10.0
Craigieburn electrification 2007 $115.0
Total since 1999 $322.5