It’s good to see that Melbourne academic Paul Mees continues to fight the good fight for rational public transport policy, unbowed by the disgraceful actions of his employer the University of Melbourne in recently demoting him at the behest of the Victorian government.
In an article in some obscure corner of the Fairfax press yesterday, Mees called “bullshit” on Brumby government transport consultant Sir Rod Eddington’s “blueprint” for future Melbourne transport infrastructure, based as it is on yet more expensive public/private freeway and road tunnels and a token (and totally unnecessary in Mees’ view) partial duplication of the CBD railway loop:
How could supporters of public transport question the wisdom of spending $8.5 billion on rail? Isn’t it time Melbourne put serious money into an underground line to enable more trains to run to the city centre?
The simple answer is that Melbourne has already done just this. That’s what the City Loop, which cost $5 billion in today’s money, was all about. It’s set out in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan, which shows the system was intended to handle much higher volumes of trains and passengers than it carries today.
Mees argues that the billions should be spent on extending the existing rail network to areas it currently doesn’t service at all, and electrifying the lines to huge growing dormitory regions like Caroline Springs and Melton. I’m not a Melbourne local, but Mees’ argument strikes me as almost unarguably correct. The projects Eddington is spruiking might be more manna from government heaven for MacBank or the beleagured Babcock and Brown, but they appear to have little or no connection with developing a rational plan for Melbourne’s future transport infrastructure for an era of global warming and peak oil.
Paul Mees you’re a hero. Maybe it’s time that voters in the overwhelmingly Labor electorates of all those huge and growing suburban regions not serviced by the current rail network started asking some aggressively skeptical questions of Mr Brumby: such as why are you victimising experts like Mees while employing massively conflicted and completely unqualified corporate tycoons like Eddington to advise on future urban transport needs?