The Null Device
The Melbourne City Council is planning to discourage the use of cars in the CBD. It's not quite a London-style congestion charge, but will involve lowering speed limits, reclaiming street space for pedestrians and cyclists, giving cheaper public transport fares to residents who give up parking permits and, umm, resisting moves to ease the flow of traffic into the city centre. It also will only cover the 2 square kilometres that comprise the central business district, and depends on the state government increasing public transport funding, which it has shown no signs of doing.
So, if this plan goes ahead, two things could happen:
- People abandon driving into the city centre in favour of public transport; as pressure on the city's trams and City Loop increase, the government increases funding and expands the system to cope
- People abandon driving into the city centre. Overcrowded trams and trains struggle to cope. Public transport operators rip out seats, creating a standing-only transport system to accommodate the crowds. The government hems and haws over the question of increasing funding, eventually doing little or nothing. After mass public dissatisfaction, the city council reverses the plan, removes bike/bus lanes, restores parking spaces and the car resumes its place as Melbourne's rightful king, and motorists can once more sit down in their oversized Toorak tractors as they nip down to David Jones.