October 09, 2007

Horse 813 - The Short-Sighted M4 East

I am convinced that the NSW State Government would be able to take its finger out if it didn't have its own head wedged firmly up its own bum. The M4 East has been approved at a grand cost of $7 billion in the name of easing congestion. What a load of tosh! Internal document and advertising campaigns produced by the very same people would show otherwise.

A suburban commuter train takes 2000 cars off the road in peak times. Simple logic states that if you are on a train, then it's impossible to be in a car at the same time; at the other end of the journey (aka the motorway), instead of needing to find physical space for those 2000 cars, you only need to diffuse pedestrians.

The ultimate expression of a city with motorways and proof positive as to why they don't in principle work is Los Angeles. This is a city of 3.9 million people with the most horrendous traffic jams in the world. People may like to cite London and the M25 but if you bear in mind that traffic within the capital itself moves relatively freely and the rather obvious point that it's population is probably 3 times as big when you consider the total traffic footprint, London still has less traffic jams.

On a recent trip to San Diego (to meet the future Mrs Rollo - scary thought that) the task given me was to drive to LAX. I left at 04:30 in the morning and moved 116 miles up the coast in about an hour and a half. The next two and a half hours were spent moving down Interstate 405 a total distance of 9 miles or if you will, an average speed of 3.6mph and they call this the "rush hour"?! If London were this bad it would never ever move at all.

I mention London because Transport for London has just committed £16 billion to build the Crossrail 1 project. Essentially it's a Mainline connector as well as another Underground Line. Despite Londoners complaining about the Tube, they really do have quite a brilliant service.

Perhaps a more adequate comparison is Melbourne. Melbourne has thrice won both the Mercer Quality of Living Survey and The Economist's Worlds Most Livable Cities. At 3.8 million people it should be almost directly comparable to Los Angeles, but it has an integrated Public Transport network which encompasses the world's biggest Tram network couple with quite a good Suburban Train network.

We've seen in the past 20 years, the M2, M7, M5, M5 East, Cross City Tunnel, Eastern Distributor, and Harbour Tunnel all built within in the fair city of Sydney. Has even a single one of these projects actually lessened traffic congestion? Not a bit. The worst thing is that private consortiums have managed to sit right up close the whoever happens to be in power at the time and the time and now sit stripping and effectively raping the wallets of the "Good and Fair People of NSW".

We really do have a short-sighted government, and the problem is is that the opposition would have done exactly the same thing. People of NSW, your government isn't good enough & guess what? You voted for them and they'll continue to do exactly the same while the money exists.

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