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Media Release

12/02/2001

Traffic Figures Show City Link Has Failed

Traffic figures released by the proprietors of the Melbourne City Link tollway show that the road project has failed to achieve its objectives, the Public Transport Users Association claimed today. The figures, covering January 2001, the first full month of the complete project's operation, were released by Transurban City Link last week. The figures can then be compared with the projections in the City Link Prospectus released in 1996.

PTUA President Dr. Paul Mees said the traffic figures proved that City Link has failed to reduce traffic on alternative routes, which was the original justification for the project. He also claimed that the figures prove that City Link is being used primarily as a city access road, rather than, as its proponents claimed, a city bypass road.

Dr. Mees said:

"Overall, traffic volumes on City Link are some 24% lower than predicted, but this is only an average figure. The sections of City Link that feed traffic to the Central Business District - particularly the Monash Freeway - are running according to projections, but the parts of City Link used as city bypass routes show much bigger discrepancies than the average. Thus, traffic on the Bolte Bridge is barely half the predicted level, and even traffic on the Tullamarine Freeway is more than 30,000 vehicles a day lower than predicted. No wonder residents of Moonee Valley and Moreland are complaining that City Link has increased traffic levels on local roads."

"What this shows is that City Link is functioning primarily as a city access road, not a city bypass. As such it directly undermines public transport and worsens traffic congestion. Before the road was built, Vicroads claimed that City Link would be a bypass, not an access road. At the time, the PTUA said this claim was false, and we have been proven right." Dr. Mees said.

Dr. Mees, who lectures in transport planning at Melbourne University, claimed that the incorrect projections stemmed from a defect in the computer model Vicroads uses to predict the traffic consequences of new roads. "Vicroads have always pretended that freeways are bypass roads, not city commuter roads, in order to neutralise public concern about freeway building. They have even programmed their computer model to reflect the false assumption that most Melburnians on inner city roads wish to travel around, rather than to, the city. But this assumption is wrong: there is very little travel from one side of metropolitan Melbourne to the other, and the City Link traffic figures show this."

Dr. Mees added that the traffic discrepancy is directly relevant to another Vicroads dream, a freeway linking the Eastern and Tullamarine Freeways. "Many people have assumed that traffic congestion on the Eastern Freeway is the result of traffic headed for the Tullamarine Freeway. It isn't. Most traffic is headed for the city centre instead. But Vicroads' biased computer models say that the traffic is seeking to bypass the city. If Vicroads are allowed, as Transport Minister Batchelor proposes, to dominate the forthcoming study of traffic problems in the inner northern suburbs, their computer model will predict a "need" for a freeway link. Just as with City Link, we won't find out that the prediction was false until it's too late - i.e. after the freeway has been built", Dr. Mees said.

Dr. Mees called for an urgent independent inquiry into freeway planning in Melbourne. "The City Link traffic figures prove that billions of dollars is being spent on freeway proposals that are being justified on the basis of completely dodgy traffic figures" Dr. Mees said. "This cannot be allowed to continue."

City Link traffic volumes versus projections in Prospectus (Jan. 2001)

Section of City Link Projection Actual Difference
Tullamarine Freeway 132,000 99,285 -24.8%
Western Link 109,000 63,095 -42.1%
Bolte Bridge 104,000 56,952 -45.6%
Domain and Burnley tunnels 99,000 70,862 -28.4%
Punt Road to Burnley Street section 110,000 103,752 -5.7%
Monash Freeway 108,000 107,595 -0.4%
Total 662,000 501,541 -24.2%

Contacts:
PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 14 February 2001