Highway Proposal Locks In Car Dependence
Northern Suburbs Railway cheaper than Brooker Upgrade
Community-based public transport advocacy group, Future Transport Tasmania (FTT), today slammed the Tasmanian Government and the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER) for seeking approval to fund over $213 million dollars of improvements to the Brooker Highway. The plan is designed solely to ease congestion, however there has been no design work, nor has there been any net-cost benefit analysis. FTT wishes to highlight the fact that several State Government strategies all have a goal of increasing public transport use, including the Tasmanian Urban Passenger Transport Framework, the draft Hobart Capital City Plan and the Southern Integrated Transport Strategy. The Southern Integrated Transport Strategy even admits that Hobart cannot accommodate unrestrained growth in private car use. FTT believes that DIER and the State Government have decided that they do not want the Northern Suburbs Railway to be used as a commuter rail service, despite the fact that it’s introduction would cost less than half that of the proposed highway upgrades.
FTT is appalled at the complete contradiction inherent in Government strategies and their actual plans to build more and more highways.
Future Transport Tasmania spokesperson Toby Rowallan said: “In preparing our submission to the Legislative Council’s enquiry into Integrated Public Transport Options for Southern Tasmania, FTT found that the Government and DIER are talking about public transport –but doing everything they can to prevent it. For less than one hundred million dollars we could have the Northern Suburbs Railway up and running. They wouldn’t need to spend money on the highway at all, because we would have a decent public transport link in place instead.”
“If the State Government truly wanted to encourage a greater use of public transport services, the last thing they would do is to upgrade a highway. Tasmania cannot afford to lock in more car dependency. By failing to fund public transport, in particular the Northern Suburbs Railway, we will guarantee increased carbon emissions, increased oil price vulnerability and increased disadvantage for those people who cannot access private vehicle transport.”
“The cost of improving parts of the Brooker Highway to cope with increasing demand is over twice as much as the cost of introducing a commuter rail service. This was outlined in the State Government’s preliminary submission to Infrastructure Australia that was released late last year. All this will achieve is encourage greater car use, more congestion in other areas of the road network and more cars in the CBD.”
“In hearings with the Legislative Council in June, Secretary Norm McIlfatrick stated that Hobart did not have a congestion problem by comparison with mainland cities. Whilst we may have a higher level of congestion than we should, this does not justify spending over $200 million dollars just to cut five minutes of travel time,” finished Mr Rowallan.