The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has called for the introduction of a passenger submarine linking the bayside western suburbs of Melbourne with the CBD instead of the controversial Westgate Tunnel.
“There’s clear demand for improved public transport in Melbourne’s west,” said PTUA’s maritime spokesperson Daniel Morton. “A passenger submarine can deliver this with minimal new infrastructure.”
Previous attempts to run passenger ferries have confronted problems such as rough waters causing cancellations and delays , and speed limits making for slow journeys along the Yarra River section of ferry routes .
“A submarine would overcome the problems facing surface vessels by travelling below the water’s surface, and leave valuable sea lanes open for freight transport,” said Mr Morton.
“A submarine would also be less affected by low clearances on some of the numerous river crossings  already in place from the west of Melbourne that everyone forgets about whenever they say we need a ‘second’ river crossing.”
Mr Morton also pointed out that the future reach of a submarine network would benefit from rising sea levels due to carbon emissions from transport. “To start with the submarines would only serve Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River, but future routes could extend to Elwood, the Westgate Tunnel corridor and other low-lying parts of the city.”
Mr Morton said the PTUA was optimistic the submarine plan would float given the government’s reluctance to invest in proven transport options for the west. “With very low service levels for trains and buses in the west, and virtually no trams, an unproven distraction is just the thing to capture the public’s imagination. Meanwhile the government can continue generating more motor vehicle traffic with massive motorway projects instead of providing genuine alternatives.”
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