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Page not found | Public Transport Users Association (Victoria, Australia) Lord Mayor and Councillors,
City of Melbourne,
Town Hall,
Swanston Walk,
Melbourne, 3000

Wednesday, 14 April, 1999

Tram Users Demand Swanston Walk Improves

Tram passengers will suffer from the reopening of Swanston Street. More than half of shoppers, workers and visitors to the CBD arrive by public transport (according to a Melbourne City Council report), and many of these use Swanston Street trams. The three busiest tram stops in Melbourne are all in Swanston Street; all are busier than the busiest suburban railway station. Will this enormous number of tram passengers once again be corralled into so-called 'safety zones' to inhale the exhaust fumes from passing cars? Putting cars back in Swanston Street at any time by day or night is a recipe for confrontation between motorists and tram passengers. The intersection with Collins Street will regain its reputation as the worst in Melbourne for pedestrian fatalities.

Rather than wind back the clock on the improvement of the city, we should look again at what the closure of Swanston Street was meant to achieve. At present Swanston Street looks like half a street and half a mall. In other transit malls throughout the world, pedestrians happily coexist with tram and bicycle traffic, while motor vehicles are excluded. Experience in other cities, and with Bourke Street here in Melbourne, has shown that the exclusion of trams is not necessary to a viable mall. Swanston Walk can be improved considerably with high-intensity lighting, better tram waiting facilities (including cafes?) and stronger controls on vehicular traffic presently allowed to enter.

Since new Lord Mayor Costigan was so quick to revisit the issue of Swanston Walk, the time has perhaps come to confront the issue of further city pedestrianisation. Planning Subcommittee chair Kevin Chamberlin has suggested the extension of the Bourke Street mall, as well as pedestrianisation of the southern part of Elizabeth Street. these are good ideas which will benefit tram passengers (who will be able to board and disembark conveniently), make more walking space available, and improve the street environment for CBD workers and patrons. Both streets carry low volumes of motor traffic already, yet are important city retail and entertainment precincts.

Public transport users are the backbone of the city's user profile, to ignore their needs in favour of the intrusion of more motor traffic is to condemn the city to a declining future.

Yours sincerely,
Paul Mees,
President, PTUA

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Last Modified: 22 November 1999