The Null Device

The Big Idea

It looks like Melbourne may finally get a public transport overhaul; a new A$10bn plan will put a road and rail tunnel between Doncaster and Deer Park, provide a road link between the Eastern Freeway and Western Ring Road, and build the long-awaited Doncaster train line, running from North Melbourne, via Melbourne University, and down the under-utilised middle of the Eastern Freeway.

Taken at face value, it's a good start; the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne are a public-transport vacuum, and the railway line is overdue; a rail link between North Melbourne, Carlton, Fitzroy and Abbotsford could also be handy. Hopefully, they'd provide an interchange between this and the Clifton Hill-bound lines. Then, perhaps, they can build over long-overdue urban rail lines, such as the one going to Rowville, with the link to Monash University that was promised in the 1960s when the site was selected.

I bet you, though, that when push comes to shove, the rail parts will be scrapped as "impractical", possibly to be replaced with half a dozen bus routes and a mobile-phone-based car-pooling registry or something, and only the road parts will get built. After all, the crucial swinging voters in the outer-suburban two-car households don't actually use public transport and don't want their tax money being wasted on such when it could be used to make their drive quicker and smoother.

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