One of my challenges is getting information on the comparative spending between roads and rail from the federal and state governments.
Either nobody quite knows or they are not so keen to make the information available. However I have gleaned the following from a blog contribution by the Federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese: “We have doubled the national roads budget to more than $27.7 billion. … We have invested more than $1.2 billion into 17 projects
across the interstate freight rail network.”
The problem, apart from the massive discrepancy, is that after 3.5 years of Federal Labor government, we are seeing lots of roads being built but nothing to show off as completed in urban public transport. Sure there has been some money committed to major transit studies, and these take time, but what about supporting smaller projects like federally funded trams for regional cities or ferries for maritime areas?
I acknowledge the importance of spending on the rail freight projects and as this
Minister says: “We have invested more in rail over the past 12 months than our
predecessors did in 12 years. … The jobs created to support this activity are
considerable. Manufacturing 1.2 million concrete rail sleepers has given work to
factories in five towns in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. This
has employed hundreds of workers with flow-on effects right throughout their
Meantime much of the urban public transport is underfunded, congestion is costly,
obesity is increasing, and there are lots of unhappy commuters out there who not
only vote but give a very high priority to public/active transport.
First published in Transport Newsletter #195 on 12/4/11, republished with the kind permission of the author.
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