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A new “bus way” to be built along the expanded Eastern Freeway is a poorly planned afterthought that will also stop a future rail line to Doncaster, a group of transport experts say.
The bus way will be built as part of Victoria’s costliest road project, the $15.8 billion North East Link, which will see twin tunnels dug under Heidelberg and Bulleen to link the Ring Road in Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway.
The North East Link was promised by Premier Daniel Andrews in 2016 for $10 billion.
Victoria's biggest-ever road project, the North East Link.CREDIT:NORTH EAST LINK AUTHORITY
But the extent of the Eastern Freeway widening – it will be more than 20 lanes at its widest points when the project is complete – and other factors have brought the project’s final proposed cost to $15.8 billion.
Among those extra features is a “bus way” – separated bus lanes – to cost around half a billion dollars that are designed to increase public transport services on the freeway.
The Victorian Transport Action Group, an independent forum of transport experts that counts among its numbers former senior public servants and high-ranking political staffers, has made a submission on the bus plan to the government’s environmental assessment of the road.
It finds the bus lanes have not been properly thought through and may not help increase the number of bus services now using the freeway.
This is because not enough new major bus interchanges are planned, because buses will be forced into car traffic for a time on the Eastern Freeway, and because there is no new road space being created on Hoddle Street for buses.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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