Now would be a good time to release Melbourne's long-term transport plan

Now would be a good time to release Melbourne's long-term transport plan
Now would be a good time to release Melbourne's long-term transport plan


In all the kerfuffle that's been caused by the release of Infrastructure Australia's national priority list yesterday, the citation of the ongoing 'need' to sort out the Eastern Freeway to City link gap is perhaps the most predictable.

It's the cheapest of cheap shots for some segments of the media to try and wedge the state government giving breathing room for the opposition to valiantly wave a few more wet lettuce leaves which in turn will translate into more clicks during the day and eyeballs on the evening news.

The day progressed to the point where the government was able to trudge out its now commonplace complaint about federal government Sydney-centricity.  Content-filling gold for some corners of the Melbourne media.

Yet, it deflects from bald reality - other than the laundry lists of projects the state government can, and would, point to that are underway, no-one really knows what's next.

What the experts say

NSW is far ahead of Victoria in transport planning - even if not ideal, with many unwarranted megaroad projects - with a vision for a dramatically enhanced urban railway network.

The focus on projects rather than plans is indicative of the parlous state of transport planning in Victoria, which doesn't have a transport plan to meet Victoria and Melbourne's needs for the mobility of future generations.

The projects listed [by Infrastructure Australia] are the tip of a massive road-building iceberg that will lock Melburnians into increasingly toll-paying car dependence.

Roads will generate more traffic, needing ever more roads.

More and better public transport and getting freight on to rail, aligned with planning for employment outside the CBD is the only way to solve Melbourne’s future transport needs.

Dr Ian Woodcock, RMIT

We're starting to see a stark contrast between the Liberal NSW State Government and the Labor VIC State Government, as Ian Woodcock points out.  The NSW Government is drunk on road building like... everyone else in Australia, but it is absolutely correct to point out the diverging vision that Macquarie Street is nurturing.

Putting aside juvenile double-decker versus single-deck trains arguments that seem to flare up every now again north of the Murray, the NSW Government has chosen to introduce an entirely new railway platform to Australia for the first time, and they're not squibbing either. 

The first stage of the Sydney Metro will be operational soon and there has been very little delay in getting prepared for the second phase - both of them are refactoring existing infrastructure but for the most part there's a lot of new track kilometres being built as new, and underground, in Sydney.

And now a second entirely separate line is actively being planned.  A new north-south rail line in the outer west of Sydney as well?  It's not hard to see where Sydney's going with such an enormous amount of rail construction and planning going on.

Also of note is this new greenfields railway that will open next year has had multiple years of planning work done so that development is concentrated in most of the new station's precincts - it was reported recently that in one case, 20% of all new dwellings in one master plan would be dedicated to both market affordable housing for purchase and rent.

Granted, Victoria's had to re-learn how to plan for and build new railways for the Metro and Level Crossing removal projects and the Liberal NSW Government had a head start thanks only to the election timings, but we're approaching three and a half years into this term of the Andrews Government and we've seen absolutely zilch on an overarching transport plan for the next 2-3 decades.

I'm sure many transport and city policy-watchers are happy to give Infrastructure Australia the benefit of the doubt; that is, their priority list is 'pure' in the sense that it's only as good as the information provided to the agency.  And it follows that Victoria has less arm-flapping and more planning to do.

Now would be a good time to tell the voting public what Transport for Victoria has been working on.  

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

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I did see "Refresh the PTV plan" on Infrastructure Victoria's recommendation list. I don't know if it is happening or not. I do have the same view. There needs more planning for the transport system especially since the Andrews is putting Billions into it. Metro 2 Tunnel and Airport Rail should become the next set of major projects on the agenda. As well as the Melton electrification and the extension to Clyde.
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