Route 11 tram extension: pork-barrelling, underdone

Route 11 tram extension: pork-barrelling, underdone
Alastair TaylorJune 28, 2016


The pig is on the spit, slowly turning, basted at regular intervals. The customary apple in the pig's mouth is looking shiny and the minions, staring at the rotating chunk of pork, are salivating. All of a sudden, due to the lack of foresight and failure to maintain the equipment, the spike falls out of the rotisserie and the pig falls on the coals.

That's how I look at the story of the cynical vote buy in Batman and the in-trouble ALP candidate's breathless media release stating that an ALP government would extend the route 11 tram.

The proposal would see $22 million spent on a 1-1.2km tram route extension from the current terminus at Regent Street to 'the end of Gilbert Road'. According to the media release, it is the first stage in the eventual extension to Reservoir station.

'The end of Gilbert Road' would see a tram route, which, at present, terminates at a strip shopping centre, extended to another relatively useless terminus location.

Route 11 tram extension: pork-barrelling, underdone
'The end of Gilbert Road' would miss out on servicing RGZ in Reservoir.

As seen on the map above, the end of Gilbert Road (left of map) misses out on two things: servicing the Residential Growth Zones and connecting with the station at Reservoir. The wider economic benefits of this tram extension would only be higher if the entire route to Reservoir station were built in one go, therefore incentivising the redevelopment of properties on Edwardes Street.

And yes, the Reservoir station area is one of the state government's 50 level crossings that is scheduled to be removed - and that will in all likelihood incentivise new development in the zones shown on the map - but if a political party wanted to wave the cash infront of the electorate, can we at least do the job properly, in one go?

The ALP's figure of $22 million looks set to "buy" 1-1.2km of new track, and it looks as if it would be the same distance again to run the tracks right into Reservoir (down Edwardes Street) to a tram/train interchange, and doubling their own figures to $45-50 million could possibly pass the pub test.

Yet the return on that investment - we're still in pub test mode - would be greater if the line serviced areas which will allow change in land-use and also synchronised with the level crossing removal.

This election-focused policy announcement is a micro case study which has scarce detail, a demonstrated lack of integration with local planning issues/needs and no complimentary affordable housing policy; and furthermore it paints a picture of how far off the mark the Federal Government in Canberra will be if it decides to infringe further on traditional state issue areas.

Here's hoping that by the time of the next federal election, all political parties in Victoria will have a rich transport infrastructure plan - the one Infrastructure Victoria is devising - to cherry-pick for projects for their respective platforms. At least then, the electoral pork-barrelling won't be in danger of being underdone, or burnt to a crisp.

Lead image credit: Google Street View

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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