Community campaign launched as traffic drives Melbourne to crisis point

Fed up with crippling commute times, residents across Melbourne are voicing their anger at the Napthine Government’s plan to sink up to $14 billion into another traffic-­clogged toll road, though the Coalition promised to fix public transport before the 2010 election.

Melbourne community groups from the Yarra Valley to Kororoit and from Frankston to Mernda are joining forces in the new ‘Public Transport Not Traffic’ campaign. The campaign officially launches this morning (Friday 29 November 2013), a year before the next state election, with every Melbourne train line leafleted by local community groups.

“People across Melbourne are already tearing their hair out in traffic jams, and a new toll road won’t help them,” said campaign spokesperson Danae Bosler. “At peak hour, new motorways just clog up -­‐ take a look at CityLink. It was going to solve congestion, now it IS congestion.” “Only excellent public transport can cut the gridlock, because public transport users free up road space for others who do have to drive,” she said.

Melbourne’s congestion now extends well beyond its major roads and freeways. According to Dandenong Ranges resident and commuter Michelle Slater, “Public transport services here are very poor, and we are bound to our cars.” “We don’t have proper buses to the train station, so station parking is reaching breaking point. We came here for peace and clean air, but our beautiful forest roads fill with traffic jams at peak hour”. “The government needs to listen to people in the outer suburbs, and provide regular and reliable public transport, so we aren’t slaves to our cars,” said Michelle.

Michelle is also worried about the health effects of her time spent in traffic. “The Burnley Tunnel was meant to cut congestion on the Monash Freeway, but instead it’s become a claustrophobic, polluted hell hole. The East-­‐West Link will be the same. It won’t free up traffic; it will just take it underground and make people nauseous on fumes.”

Danita Tucker from Ormond is concerned about her children’s safety walking to school. “There are so many cars on the road that walking and riding to school can be frightening,” Ms Tucker said. “I want my children to be able to walk and ride to school, but the reality is that the traffic is intense, and the government doesn’t help us to use these active, healthy modes of transport,” she said.

Traffic in Melbourne has reached crisis point. Melbourne commuter times are longer than any other major city in Australia, USA or Canada, and the Napthine Government proposes to make this car dependency worse. While cities around the world including Perth have invested in new rail lines that give quick access to jobs and educational institutions, Melbourne’s heavy investment in freeways has meant inner Melbourne traffic speeds get ever slower, costing the economy and reducing quality of life.

“We know now that if you sow more roads, you reap more traffic”, said Public Transport Not Traffic campaigner Danae Bosler. “So there’s no excuse, Melbourne needs world-­‐class public transport, not another polluting motorway. We’ll be hitting our politicians hard over the head with this message from now till the state election,” she said.

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