Fed up with crippling commute times, residents across Melbourne are voicing their anger at the Napthine Government’s plan to sink up to $14 billon into another traffic-clogged tunnel and toll road instead of better public transport.
With one year until Victorians next go to the polls, Melbourne community groups from Kensington to Frankston and from Dandenong to Bentleigh are joining forces in a new community campaign called ‘Public Transport Not Traffic‘ demanding their taxpayer dollars be invested in better public transport, not more traffic-clogged roads.
The new campaign launches today (Friday 29 November 2013) at train stations across Melbourne, including the Bentleigh, Frankston, Box Hill and Richmond stations. Every train line in Melbourne will be covered by local community groups demanding the Napthine Government calls a halt to its proposed $14 billion East-West Link and invests immediately in critical public transport infrastructure.
Traffic in Melbourne has reached crisis point. Melbourne commuter times are longer than any other major city in Australia, USA or Canada as a result of decades of government obsession with building more roads rather than investing into public transport alternatives.
While other Australian cities, such as Perth, have invested in new rail lines which provide residents with quick access to jobs and schools, Melbourne’s freeway obsession has led to traffic speeds in inner Melbourne getting slower costing the economy and reducing quality of life.
Michelle Slater is a Dandenong Ranges resident and a regular commuter to the inner eastern suburbs. She said: “public transport services here are very poor and so we are bound to our cars.”
“Due to our reliance on cars, parking at stations is reaching breaking point. This means our beautiful forest roads have become a dangerous, congested mess at peak hours. Our hills now represent a traffic jam,” she said.
While public transport promises were the centrepiece of the Coalition’s 2010 election campaign, Napthine has instead thrown his time and money into the controversial East-West Link, a $14 billion toll road for the inner city.
His broken promises mean that important public transport projects have been sidelined including rail lines to Tullamarine and Avalon airports, Doncaster, a cross-country rail route via Meredith, Maryborough and Castlemaine as well as new stations at Southland Shopping Centre and Grovedale.
Danita Tucker, an Ormond resident with two young children, is worried about the impact traffic has on her children’s quality of life. She is concerned about her children’s safety traveling to school, saying “there are so many cars on the road that walking and riding to school can be frightful.”
She said: “I want my children to be able to walk and ride to school, but the reality is that the traffic in Melbourne is too intense and the public transport system just doesn’t support my family getting to school and work.”
Back in the Dandenong Ranges, Michelle is also worried about the health effects of her time spent in traffic.
“The Burnley Tunnel was meant to alleviate congestion on the Monash Freeway, but instead it has become a claustrophobic, polluted hell hole. The East-West Link will be the same. It won’t free up traffic congestion; instead it will just lead it underground and make people nauseous on fumes.”
Along with thousands of other residents across Melbourne, Michelle is calling on the Napthine government to halt its proposed East-West Link and invest in important public transport infrastructure. She said: “the government needs to listen to people in the outer suburbs and provide regular and reliable public transport so that we are not slaves to our cars.”
Launched today, the Public Transport Not Traffic campaign kicks off with an online survey where Melbourne residents can nominate what public transport infrastructure they would like to see their taxpayer dollars spent on.
Public Transport Not Traffic — www.ptnt.org
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 W. Cox, ‘Commuting in Australia’ (24/03/2013)