The Null Device

Dethroning the car in Melbourne

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
Somehow, I suspect that #2 is more likely, especially with the road lobby controlling Vicroads and having the power of veto over transport planning in Victoria.

There are 2 comments on "Dethroning the car in Melbourne":

Posted by: gjw Wed Feb 1 00:37:47 2006

I don't think restricting traffic in the CBD will solve any problems - the amount of time commuters spend driving in the CBD is trivial compared to the time spent driving on the way to the city. Melbourne, like most other Australian cities (Adelaide being a notable exception) makes it very easy to drive to the city - high speed, wide freeways twist around the city and off-ramps dump you straight onto city streets. The same thing is true in Brisbane, Sydney, even Hobart has high-speed artierial roads leading to the city centre.

In Adelaide, by contrast, the only way to get to the city by car is along congested, 1- or 2-lane 50kph suburban roads. I think the lack of freeways here leds to the continued use of public transport, independent of what goes on in the city centre.

Posted by: Loki Wed Feb 1 02:31:46 2006

Much too little, and almost certainly too late, I suspect. If the MCC really wants to get cars out of the city, it should buy Connex.