EDITORIAL: QLD chucking cash at congestion dilemma

By: Chris Smith

The Queensland Government claims it is committed to tackling road congestion, after a damning report from the RACQ on travel

The Queensland Government claims it is committed to tackling road congestion, after a damning report from the RACQ on travel times highlighted the serious issue of congestion and lack of forward planning.

Responding to the report, Main Roads Minister Warren Pitt says the government has embarked on the biggest road building and traffic management program in the State’s history.

The knee-jerk response will see road funding jump from $610 million in 2003-04 to a $2.24 billion capital works budget for Main Roads in 2007-08.

Already this is a four-fold increase in just five years and Pitt suggests more money will be chucked at the problem in next month’s State Budget.

So why did they wait until the situation became dire before they provided the funds?

At the cost of billions better roads will encourage more commuters to travel by private cars rather than public transport.

More roads for private vehicles may not be the right answer to curb congestion, but simply a great, costly, temporary fix.

The government is hedging bets and placing money in both camps, to suit both private and public transport users.

This is diluting the resources and sending a mixed message about moving towards a more robust, fully-serviceable, public transport system.

We’ve heard about freight hubs for years, but has anyone looked at public transport hubs? Not everyone works in the city and commutes in and out every day.

Many work in outer suburbs and live in outer suburbs. Instead of having to go all the way in to the city wouldn’t it be great to have a high-speed network around the perimeter…to encourage drivers to get out of their cars?

The good news for the bus industry is there is a significant expansion in public transport services underway to cater for significantly increased demand and more investment in busways.

The Minister for Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations, John Mickel, has also introduced the TransLink Transport Authority Bill into State Parliament last week on the back of the success of TransLink.

He says the government is acutely aware of the pressures on our roads and public transport system.
"That is why it is serious about taking concerted action to address the issue," Mickel says.

Mickel says the new transit authority will be a tremendous boost for southeast Queensland commuters, as it was a one-stop shop for public transport services, customer service and feedback.

With the new legislation introduced in the House, the TransLink Transit Authority has entered the home stretch before commencing operation on July 1, 2008.

Only time will tell of the success of the new Authority. Send us your feedback.

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