The recent decision by the Victorian government to halt the engineering study to increase the carrying capacity of Hoddle Street has been welcomed by Friends of Banyule.
The study was announced in December 2008 by the Labor government in its Victorian Transport Plan.
Many elements of this plan are now reportedly under review by the Baillieu government. When announced by the previous government the Hoddle Street study was described as an engineering investigation to determine the feasibility of grade separating key junctions in Hoddle Street. The most likely contenders would seem to have been Johnston Street, Victoria Street and Bridge Road.
Residents of Collingwood, Richmond and East Melbourne have suffered increases in road traffic ever since the early 1970’s when the Eastern Freeway was opened and Hoddle Street was transformed from a tree-lined boulevard to a sprawling traffic sewer. A realistic possibility if the Hoddle Street study had continued was that Hoddle Street would have been turned into a high-speed freeway.
The study has been halted because of the coalition government’s decision to undertake a study of a new rail service from the city to Doncaster.
Much of the traffic currently on Hoddle Street travels on the Eastern Freeway. A well designed train system with effective linking suburban bus services would substantially reduce this traffic. Friends of Banyule’s Marion Ware said “Friends of Banyule welcome this decision. With frequent bus services to connect with the train the Doncaster rail service would relieve significant pressure from Banyule roads. Perth’s public transport model has shown that this approach is very successful. The previous government steadfastly resisted a serious commitment to building a rail service to Doncaster. Their approach, in October 2010, was to roll out higher frequency bus services for residents of the City of Manningham and small part of the City of Whitehorse.
Whist these services, collectively known as Doncaster Area Rapid Transit (DART), have provided increased public transport capacity they do not have the capability to adequately reduce road traffic on the Eastern Freeway and Hoddle Street by putting sufficient people onto space efficient and speedy public transport services. Whilst a train may carry about 800 people a bus may carry about 45. (The average car travelling on Melbourne roads is used to carry only 1.2 persons).
Also trains have much superior running time to buses and cars.