MELBOURNE is heading for a congestion crisis prompting Victoria’s road chief to call on motorists to take the train, ride a bike or get a new job to avoid gridlock.
Nine of Melbourne’s major thoroughfares including the Eastern Freeway, the Monash Freeway and the West Gate Freeway are nearing capacity and will be clogged before 2031 according to traffic projection data obtained by the Herald Sun.
VicRoads CEO John Merritt admitts roads are already overstratetched city-wide during peak hour and with no big road infrastruture projects on the horizon frustrated motorists must find ‘alternative modes’ of transport or work closer to home.
``You can’t simply build your way out of congestion.’’ he said.
``It sounds sort of strange but we are witnessing now a sort of change already in how the city functions.
``People are making different choices about how they want to live and work.
``Those who have got an option of driving, walking or cycling we know that they will walk or cycle if they are safer.’’
``And clearly as part of the planning of the city we need more jobs out where people live so they are not driving as far or at all.’’
The latest shift in strategy comes after the Andrews Government controversially axed the East West Link earlier this year forking out $640m to settle the contracts before a shovel was even lifted.
Melbourne gridlock is getting worse.
Melbourne gridlock is getting worse.
Victoria’s hopes now lie on the new $9-$11 billion Metro Rail Tunnel project, which will help carry an additional 20,000 passengers during peak hour.
But with the tunneel to finish in 2026 Mr Merritt admitted Melburnians would experience increasing congestion during the next decade.
In April it was revealed Melbourne’s congestion had reached record levels with motorists at a standstill for almost a minute for every kilometre travelled.
A person living 25 kilometres from the city can now find themselves stationary for 40 minutes during the peak hour run.
VicRoads experts have predicted growing congestion would cause cars to spill off the highways leading to rat running in inner city areas including Monash, Stonnington, Moreland and Boroondara, as frustrated motorists try to find quicker routes.
Work has already begun on local streets in some areas to handle the increasing traffic.
Controversially Mr Merritt suggested some Melburnians could look for work closer to home in order to minimise their commute.
However RMIT Professor of urban policy Jago Dodson cautioned the move would drastically restrict people’s incomes and fuel disparity.
``It places limits on people’s employment opportunities,’’ he said.
``In Melbourne the high paying jobs are concentrated in the city centre. People in lower value jobs are being pushed to the outer suburbs.
``There are not a lot of cities around the world telling people to fix the transport system by working locally, that will not work.’’
Stefan Metayer said he would prefer to catch a train from the station 300m away from his Ringwood home, but needs his car to get to meetings from his South Melbourne construction company.
He leaves home at 6.30am along the Eastern Freeway for a 45 minute commute, and leaves work at 4pm to ensure he spend the minimum time commuting for maximum time with his young family.
“If you leave at 7am or 7.15am, it can be an hour and 15 minutes. Going home you never know. “When I left on Friday I got stuck outside the football game. It took one and a half hours. That’s just madness to sit in a car that long,” Mr Metayer said.
“If I haven’t left home by 7.30am, it’s more productive for me to stay home, work on the laptop and go in at 9.15am. It’s pretty hectic. Even if they widened Punt Rd, everything bottle necks.”
Acting Minister for Roads Natalie Hutchins said building new roads was not the answer to Melbourne’s crisis.
``Roads are a vital part of the transport mix that includes our train networks, tram lines, bus routes, cycling paths and pedestrian paths,’’ she said.
In the bid to alliviate some stress for drivers VicRoads are attempting to enhance existing throughfares.
This includes bus lanes on the Eastern Freeway, widening of the M80 and upgraded road technology to be implemented on the Monash.
Mr Merritt refused to comment on the proposed $5.5 billion Transurban proposal link between the West Gate Freeway and CityLink, which is currently being considered by the Department of Treasury and Finance.
Early reports indicate the road will help traffic flow on the West Gate Bridge but the plan could see commuters hit with billions of dollars in hidden toll fees.
Cycling is also expected to play a major role in VicRoads new strategy with Mr Merritt saying people should consider the pushie to get them to work quicker.
``Anyone who is walking or cycling takes a two tonne car off the road,’’ he said.
``One of the frustrations there at the moment is the evidence of some tension between cyclists and particularly drivers, when it is so obvious that from a drivers point of view it is fantastic.
``Honestly you will be handing them a banana out the window saying thank you very much for not driving.``
According to Bicycle Network Victoria figures show people are happy biking up to 45 minutes or 10km to work.
Congestion costs Victoria more than $3 billion per year.
People may use public transport if they have simple and easy rules to follow and not hard and complex rules for example this crap rule:
A customer may only alight from a V/Line train at a metropolitan railway station if the V/Line train service ends at a railway station that is a metropolitan railway station or with the permission of an authorised person. If a customer boards, or alights from, a V/Line train at a metropolitan railway station in contravention of either of the two immediately preceding paragraphs, any ticket held by the customer is not, or ceases to be, valid for the customer’s journey that consists of, or includes, the customer’s travel in that V/Line train or for any entry to a designated area associated with that journey.
This why people drive cars - so they do not have put with this crap