Follow the lead of world’s liveable cities

Finally, we have confirmation from Infrastructure Australia co-ordinator Michael Deegan of what the community had suspected. The Napthine government has assessed the benefit-cost ratio for its east-west link as just 80ยข in the dollar (The Age, 13/2), in the absence of fanciful “agglomeration benefits”.

The wider benefits claimed are the kind that you get by expanding public transport, walking and cycling. These all promote concentrated economic activity and jobs in liveable cities such as Vienna, Barcelona or Vancouver. Expanding dependence on motor cars, as in Detroit, does not. Is our government suggesting that cutting a motorway through inner-Melbourne will shift car trips to public transport?

Of course, Mr Deegan’s job has just been axed by Tony Abbott (The Age, 7/2). The political undermining of independent transport planning advice is nothing new. We saw it with EastLink, where the government had advice that it could obtain the same traffic benefits by spending a smaller amount of money on public transport improvements, but ignored it. Perhaps we could again look at those pre-election promises of rail extensions, Dr Napthine?

Tony Morton, Public Transport Users Association, Melbourne

Published in The Age, 14/2/2014