By Cristina Lynn
Yesterday I attended the first day of the NSW Major Projects Conference and listened with interest about all the infrastructure projects being planned for our state. Whilst the issue of traffic congestion on our roads was mentioned in pretty much all the presentations, there was no information about how this is going to be addressed given the expectations of population increases over the next 20-50 years. Considering that many of the projects involve new roads and working on the truism that more roads = more cars, I can’t figure out how traffic congestion will be addressed, let alone solved. This morning I read Clover Moore’s article on SMH and realised that I am not alone in my doubts.
Then I got in a taxi to go to Sydney Airport; it was 7am by the time we hit the Cahill Expressway and the bus/taxi lane was practically empty whilst the private car lane on our left was banked back way before the Mosman access. We passed hundreds of cars, mostly occupied only by the driver and I wished I could have asked each person where they were going, why they chose to drive and (being a parking consultant) where they would park on arrival and how much they would pay….
I ask myself at what point in the planning of these hugely expensive projects do we actually engage with the people we are expecting will use them? Do we really understand the issues faced by workers in moving from their point of residence to where they work and whatever else they need to do on the way there and back (school, family, shopping, sport, entertainment) and can public transport satisfy those requirements? Presumably driving entails a higher cost than using public transport so if all those people are willing to sit on lengthy queues day in and day out they must have good reasons. Do we understand what they are? Does it matter or would this just get in the way of progress? Providing more roads and more public transport could be seen as offering a child chocolate cake and muesli for breakfast and ask him to take his pick. Geez the cake is fattening, but doesn’t it taste good?
Photo Credit: www.news.com.au
Dear Cristina. If you define the solution to the congestion broblem as having no congestion, I a afraid you will be disappointed. The nature of our society requires some level of congestion. Here is why: We live in a driving-distances-society. That means that our origions (home, office) and destinations (work, shopping, recreation) are too far apart for walking or even biking. in addition, cities are, by definition, a crouded place. The result is a lot of people moving at the same time, on a limited network. The solotion is, of course, an efficient transit system. However, people will leave their comfortable car to the crowded transit system’ only if a certain level of congestion exists on the streets. If everyone could cruise to work in their car, only the captives (kids, old and the poor, who can not drive or afford a car)would use transit. The solution is, therefore, a great transit system and some level of congestion, that will provide a reasonable choice. Unfortunately, Transit systems are typically a government responsibility – and there you have a problem…