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Media Release

13/05/2005

Road Lobby Myths Busted

Transport Advocates Launch New Online Information Resource

Whether you're one of the 87% of Melburnians who think more needs to be done to improve public transport, or an activist who's spent years trying to make it happen, you've probably heard someone with impressive-sounding credentials explain why vastly improved public transport "can't happen", at least not in Melbourne.

Year after year the same breathless arguments are repeated, that public transport can't possibly work in Melbourne because you'll never get car-driving suburbanites to use it. Or because the kind of trips people make can't be done by public transport. Or because we'd have to spend squillions of dollars on the necessary improvements. Maybe it's because Melbourne never has snow close all the roads, or because tram users supposedly cause more greenhouse emissions than motorists. Then there's the old favourite, that Melbourne is so spread-out and low-density that public transport isn't even viable.

All of these myths and more are thoroughly debunked on a new web site launched this week by the Public Transport Users Association.

"International experts who visit Melbourne are astounded at the amount of misinformation surrounding the transport debate here in Melbourne," says PTUA Secretary Tony Morton. "These are all urban myths, spread by those with a vested interest in more roads and more cars at the expense of public transport, walking and cycling."

"For many years sustainability advocates have been working to dispel these myths," explained Dr Morton. "For example, the road lobby will have you believe that freeways reduce congestion, yet the British Government produced an official report back in 1994 that explained that new roads just generate new traffic as people find reasons to drive more and further. But it's very easy for the government and the road lobby just to keep telling the public that new freeways will solve their problems, as though this report never existed."

This is why the PTUA has now produced a new section on their website devoted to debunking over 50 of these road lobby myths. "We're trying to collect all the facts here, so there's just one place people have to go when they smell a rat," Dr Morton said. "But no doubt we'll have to keep adding to the list. There's no end to the excuses people will dream up, whether the issue is car pollution, the cost of the road system, or why we can no longer have all our tram stops."

Dr Morton explained that all the myths had been thoroughly researched. "Doubtless we'll be accused of fabricating a few myths of our own, which is why we've gone to great lengths to back up what we're saying with reliable sources and data," he said. "The road lobby relies on the fact that if you say something enough times it becomes common knowledge, even if there's no evidence for it. We don't have that luxury, so we've had to rely on old-fashioned things like evidence."

"Fortunately, there's no shortage of evidence on our side," Dr Morton concluded. "There are cities with the same population density as Melbourne, where people live in the same kinds of suburbs and own just as many cars, and yet where public transport use in the suburbs is ten times what it is here. People shouldn't be intimidated by what the road lobby tells them: there is an alternative, and we invite people to see it for themselves."

Common Urban Myths About Transport

Contacts:
PTUA Office 9650 7898


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Last Modified: 13 May 2005