Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

New freeways cure congestion: time to put the myth to bed

Although the national budget is now apparently $12 billion in debt, a welter of state governments are pressing the federal government for support to build new freeways. The Victorian Government has just…

Ah, the freedom of the open road! Walter Parenteau

Although the national budget is now apparently $12 billion in debt, a welter of state governments are pressing the federal government for support to build new freeways. The Victorian Government has just pledged its support to the $9 billion East-West Link, and has called for the federal government to chip in. Meanwhile, Sydney’s WestConnex project to extend the M4 and M5 freeways has a price somewhere in the $10—13 billion range, and they want support too.

Justifying such expenditure has seen old freeway myths dusted off and foisted again on the general public by politicians, the popular media, and road experts who ought to know better. Myths such as “freeways will reduce urban congestion” and “freeways lower greenhouse gas emissions”. Myths that congestion is a major drag on the economy and freeways will provide more amenity to the outer suburbs.

Transport research and bitter experience have long since laid these claims to rest, but somehow the evidence has been overlooked.

Myth #1: New freeways reduce congestion

Not only is this not true, but new freeways increase overall road use and contribute to worsening congestion. If you want to reduce road congestion — an understandably popular goal in our car-dependent capital cities — the only viable option is to reduce the demand for road space.

Not only does international research support this fact, local anecdotal experiences reflect it. We are living through an era of urban freeway building, yet congestion is worsening and travel times are lengthening.

Why does this happen? New roads don’t just divert existing traffic but also attract new users and keep on doing so until they reach capacity. In transport planning jargon, this is the effect of “induced traffic”. The more roads you build, the more traffic you have.

There are also associated effects that flow on from building freeways, such as land use decisions that then reinforce car use and car-dependency.

Myth #2: Faster speeds reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions

Given the problem of induced traffic within traffic systems, theoretical savings of fuel and emissions will never eventuate in practice. Cars will not go faster or drive more smoothly, and fuel will not be saved.

Of all the major climate change strategies in the world for transport, none have seriously advocated freeway construction as a way to curb vehicle emissions. Why? It would not work.

Essentially, this is a logical fallacy that assumes what holds true at the individual scale - driving more smoothly reduces emissions - holds true at the systemic scale.

Myth #3. Freeways help outer-suburban communities

If we define increased equity as giving people in the outer suburbs the right to reach CBD-bound congestion sooner, then this claim might be true.

But by any conventional definition, the inequitable access to mobility in the outer suburbs is a result of making those places car dependent. Governments have failed to provide high-quality public transport in, to and from these areas. There is little or no cycle infrastructure, and services within walking distance are rare. Addressing those problems would do far more to provide equity for the outer suburbs.

Inequitable access to education, health, and transport services, especially those needed by young families, is a major issue in our growing cities; its is difficult to see how expenditure on major freeways will meaningfully address these problems.

Myth #4: Road congestion is a drain on the economy

In debates over the value of road funding, some very high estimates of congestion costs are circulated; see, for example, the estimated $9.4 billion cost for Australia’s congestion in 2005.

On a per capita basis for the nation, this is an extraordinary amount for being delayed in traffic. So if there was no congestion, would the economy financially benefit to this extent? No, because personal travel time isn’t included as part of the GDP. So we don’t know what the net economic benefits of reduced congestion would be, but they would be considerably less than the aforementioned costs.

Even if freeway building were to reduce congestion (see myth #1), that reduced congestion would not likely add much to the economy.

To be fair, many of the reports in question recognise the limits of these types of assumptions, but their necessary caveats never seem to make in into the media coverage.

Do we really want to stop congestion anyway?

Controversially, congestion might not be the problem, but a part of the solution.

Road congestion performs a crude but effective role — it is a disincentive to road use because of the personal costs it imposes on drivers. Getting stuck in traffic jams makes us consider other ways - or times - to travel.

This kind of “demand control” of road use can also be achieved by congestion charging. You can see this in London and Singapore, where car commuters pay more if they want to drive on heavily-used roads at times when they’re popular.

If we do want to reduce congestion, this is an effective way to do it; more effective than building freeways. But toll roads, road access charging, and road congestion charging are deeply unpopular in the community and among elected politicians (how do you cut the ribbon on a congestion charge?) and are unlikely to become widespread any time soon.

Rather than investing in new freeways under the false promise that road congestion will be relieved, there is a case for letting congestion perform another task. Congestion can give us an incentive to think about other investments in transport, namely in public and active transport, as a way to effectively reduce the number of cars on our roads and provide viable alternatives to spending ever-increasing time inside slowly moving vehicles.

Join the conversation

129 Comments sorted by

    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      ...which, as Leigh points out, really just means that it will take you less time to slam into the inner city traffic jams that no amount of freeway tarmac can remove!

      report
  1. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    Thanks Leigh - a great little article - though it's depressing that such well-known truths still need to be repeated!

    I'm an old Melbourne boy who moved to Canberra 25 years ago and I never cease to be fascinated by having observed traffic congestion become much worse - at times even quite bad - in Canberra, despite having some of the 'best' road infrastructure in the world, while it doesn't seem to have got much worse in far-bigger Melbourne. Then it struck me: Melburnians KNOW they face traffic…

    Read more
  2. Mark Matthews

    General Manager

    So why do so many governments continue to build freeways? It is because they are mislead, or is it for political reasons? Anyone?

    report
    1. Kylie Segaert

      Engineer

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      You may find that one reason governments go for freeways is because private companies will fund them. Infrastructure at no capital expense.

      report
    2. Russell Hamilton

      Librarian

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark, governments build freeways because they work. People want them because they work. People have seen that they work.

      I used to catch the train to work, did it for years, then the government spent millions and millions on the line: new electrified trains, new carriages, bigger stations ... and that 'induced' more and more people to use it, 'till it became crowded to the point of being practically unusable. I, and others, went back to our cars, commuting along the highways and then along the freeways, into the city centre. Whenever the government spends money on new bridges or adding lanes to freeways the problem is solved until population growth, and ever cheaper cars, means you need to add more space, because more people want to use the roads.

      report
    3. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Kylie Segaert

      So it looks like you are doing something, when you are not. That makes sense. Surely it's more than that tho.

      report
    4. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Russell Hamilton

      So I am assuming that you disagree with much if the content in this article.

      I still catch the train to work as it takes less time, requires less effort and is cheaper. All that sitting in a idling car stuck on a bottleneck on a freeway - yuk. After all, most of us are going into the CBD. Eventually we are going to hit a wall of traffic,

      Surely in your case, it would be better for the Gov to invest in PT to alleviate the problems you describe so you can back to a less crowded train.

      report
    5. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Ribbon cutting and big announcements look good on election campaigns.

      report
    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      I think there's a pretty fair element of populism - after all, it stands to reason that building freeways will reduce congestion, doesn't it?

      report
    7. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix MacNeill wrote" .......... it stands to reason that building freeways will reduce congestion, doesn't it? Very funny.
      Based on the world 'freeway' model in LA it has failed and California is in serious financial trouble. Just makes you wonder if California had taken up Form Based Building Codes and seriously decentralised just where they would be now.
      Form Based Building Codes are revolutionising US suburbs and trending worldwide. Just makes you wonder how widely read these 'clever' people are who promote freeways are.

      report
    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Actually, that's anice little point I hadn't yet considered; the very word 'Freeway'...it's neither 'free' (in the sense of either price or experience) or much of a 'way'...we need a new word...if only we were German, we might get away with greatbigpointlessmoneyandenvironmenteatingwayofnotfacinguptoreality

      report
    9. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      As General Manager of your organisation Mark, are the operations suitable to varied work hours and I would have thought that could be particularly so for someone at GM level if you did want to use the car.
      Resistance to change is always one of the hardest employee aspects to overcome and I suspect there may not be too many inclined to take a 5am start but couple that with a work through or late lunch for a 1 or 2 pm finish to miss traffic peaks and enjoy a game of golf or whatever and you might soon get some converts.

      It could be that with less interruptions if it is that type of organisation, productivity could in fact rise.

      Mind you I neither live near a capital nor have for many years, actually moving away some forty years ago because of inner city traffic then, at even 8 am in getting across Melbourne central.

      report
    10. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Russell Hamilton

      I think you will find, if you do some research, that MUCH more money is being spent on roads than on public transport. I think freeways connecting cities can "work" but suburban freeways have a much poorer "track" record.

      report
    11. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Greg North

      I like the way you think. I could start that early, but I need to be around during traditional business hours.

      The train gives me time to work. Driving doesn't. Bottom line is that driving 2hrs of every day is pretty stressful.

      report
    12. Leith van Onselen

      Economist

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      "After all, most of us are going into the CBD. Eventually we are going to hit a wall of traffic"

      Actually, the overwhelming majority of us don't work in the CBD:

      http://thefingeronthepulse.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/the-demography-of-employment-part-one.html

      Hence, heavy rail is useless for the overwhelming majority of people that do not work in the CBD. It would be far better, cheaper and more flexible to invest in increased bus services that utilise these new freeways.

      report
    13. Mark Matthews

      General Manager

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      I had a senior friend in VicRoads who said the same thing - more roads, better vehicles that carry more people. He is a very smart guy.

      I was wrong about the demographic - had no idea.... Interesting.

      report
    14. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Because voters vote in the "same" politicians with the same ideas. It gets them elected, so is it any wonder that most politicians come out with the same ideas ?

      If you want to assign blame for poor policy, lay it squarely at the voters feet, I know, lets vote the ALP back into Government in Vic., that will show those dastardly LNP Pollies... :)

      report
    15. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      So you think that public transport would be better than just building more roads huh?

      interesting....seems you agree with this article then that building freeways doesnt reduce traffic but providing quick easy public transport does...interesting

      report
    16. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Mark Matthews

      Mark, a number of the other comments on this item touch on various reasons why governments keep building freeways - and other roads.

      Some of the public transport groups refer to the "roads lobby", which they say includes road authorities, the motoring industry, truckies, truck fleet owners, the Transport Workers Union, truck industry representative groups, The National Transport Commission, motoring organisations such as NMRA/ RACV/RACQ, the road building industry - and there are probably others…

      Read more
    17. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      Peter, I don't believe the reasons for favouring the building of roads are so conspiratorial. In my view, they're much more straightforward. As Tony Abbott wrote:

      “They underestimate the sense of mastery that many people gain from their car. The humblest person is a king in his own car….For people whose lives otherwise run largely at the beck and call of others, that’s no small freedom.”

      Australians have a strong emotional connection with motoring. Whether this is channeled through lobby groups or not, there is genuine voter will behind it. This article and associated discussion has focussed on more objective/technical issues around alleviating congestion. It's a mistake to assume everyone thinks about it in those terms.

      report
    18. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      As Tony Abbott wrote: “They underestimate the sense of mastery that many people gain from their car. The humblest person is a king in his own car… ' "Australians have a strong emotional connection with motoring." Part of this issue is the political drive to manufacture a very 'small number' of vehicles for local consumption. Increasing employment and Commonwealth ROI. The ensuing advertising campaign of this culture since the 1950s is pervasive many cannot imagine life any other way. Which for anyone…

      Read more
    19. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Richards

      You don't need to preach to me about the virtues of cycling. However, I've noticed it's quite difficult to get others to shift their thinking away that way.

      report
    20. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      Julian, I fully agree with you when you say the reasons are not so conspiratorial - and that Australians love their cars, to paraphrase your words.

      But there are many influences, and a complex mix of underlying factors that act together to result in funding pushes for roads, with rail/intermodal and public transport ignored or downplayed in many cases. You could call it a quasi or para-conspiracy, but whatever title is used, it happens.

      In the case of rail/intermodal alternatives to freight…

      Read more
    21. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Russell Hamilton

      Russell Hamilton exactly correct. Is it better to sit in your car on a congested road or sit in a congested bus?

      report
    22. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Gary, I fear you are missing an important point in this. Whether cars are better than buses should be a personal decision - there is no objective answer, nor one that should apply to everyone.

      The real issue is - how should we, and who should fund transport infrastructure and associated costs? It's pretty obvious that choosing to take the bus to work every day costs a lot less than choosing to drive your own car. But a lot of those costs are still spread evenly across society, being funded by general taxation.

      report
    23. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      Julian, thanks for reading me. In fact my point is that as soon as people start talking about transport and cars, many folk, as here start saying that everyone should consider public transport. My point is that there are personal and health issues surrounding our current concept of public transport. While you say the real issue is who should fund transport infrastructure..., I say one real issue is freedom. But one cannot be free if one must walk in the mire of vehicle emissions created, not from…

      Read more
    24. Kieran Nelson

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      Leith, are you able to provide any suburb in Australia that has a high employment level per square km than their respective CBD? Also, you could just as easily say that the F3 in Sydney is useless as it is not used by a majority of people in Sydney.

      Buses are useless on Freeways in general. If you are travelling that kind of distance, you are better of having rail with buses or metro's doing the feeding at each end. This is similar to how street networks feed into freeways.

      report
  3. Paul Richards

    integral operating system

    The 1950s dream and madness continues, hard to believe in what is purported to be a clever country.
    It is no coincidence car fatalities are lower in economies with evolved cultures and human transport systems. The so called 'clever' here in Australia back the motor vehicle lobbyist and anyone who support an inadequate view of our human transport needs. Something transparently demonstrated with the recent Victorian governments shelving of rail system upgrades in favour of the 'motor vehicle'. Paying back any industry symbiotically attached to the motor vehicle.
    Just like the fifties legacy of supporting multi-national motor vehicle industries, today we have another purely political move demonstrating no leadership and poor forward planning. This article highlights this obvious flaw and draws the usual 'clever' critics who support the 'status quo'.
    How do more freeways add to the bottom line of human productivity? Seriously, think about it.

    report
    1. Leith van Onselen

      Economist

      In reply to Robert Clemens

      The LA metropolitan area has the highest density in the USA and the Californian Government has some of the strictest land-use/planning in the nation. You couldn't have chosen a worse example to hail the benefits of the "smart growth" movement.

      report
    2. Robert Clemens

      School of Biological Sciences, Environmental Decisions Group, fullerlab.org at University of Queensland

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      ?? Yes LA and few other areas in Southern California have high population densities, however, there is no meaningful break between most of the 20 million people who live in the area as this map clearly shows that on average the whole of So. Cal, has relatively low population densities.
      http://www.oig.lsc.gov/mapping/socal/ca00_dst_1_v2.pdf

      It is hard to tell when you have left LA and entered the next town, or the next, or the next.

      Increasing numbers of freeways have allowed more people to have a big place where they want to live while commuting. Smart growth or planning has never applied across all of Southern California, although some small municipalities have some good rules on the books. Imagine Southern California with population densities 4 or five times greater like New York City or San Francisco, and that alone will create a different lifestyle, and yes fewer freeways.

      report
    3. Kieran Nelson

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      Half correct, however you need to look at perceived density, or density distrubution. LA has some of the highest density suburbs in the USA with some of the lowest levels of large open space areas. This is a very bad outcome and is not conducive to efficient transport. NYC on the other hand has a very high density core and lower density at the fringes. This enables very high efficiency for transport across the board. http://www.uctc.net/access/37/37sprawltable2.jpg shows perceived density, density gradients and mode splits to PT and active transport whereas http://www.uctc.net/access/37/37figure1.jpg shows density distribution across NYC, LA and San Francisco.

      report
  4. Michael Brown

    Professional, academic, company director

    "..congestion might not be the problem, but a part of the solution. Road congestion performs a crude but effective role — it is a disincentive to road use..."

    You may change your mind on this Leigh when you have that chest pain and ring for the ambulance.

    report
    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michael Brown

      I think ambulances are equipped with lights and sirens and have right of way. Any other fatuous, emotive arguments you'd like to attempt?

      report
    2. Leith van Onselen

      Economist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      The argument that "..congestion might not be the problem, but a part of the solution. Road congestion performs a crude but effective role — it is a disincentive to road use..." can equally be applied to public transport. The key difference is that road pays its way via fuel taxes and car rego, whereas rail is heaviliy subsidised.

      report
    3. Adam Butler

      Engineer and Data Analyst

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      Leith...."The key difference is that road pays its way via fuel taxes and car rego, whereas rail is heavily subsidised."

      C'mon, mate you're an economist....

      Thanks to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics the difference between the cost of motor vehicle use and the revenue collected from motorists (termed 'road deficit') can be estimated. Conservative figures result in a Australian road deficit of about $17 billion a year. This is the amount of money that has to come from the general public (whether motorists or not) to subsidise the use of cars and the consequences of their use. If costs were to be recovered from fuel tax, this tax would have to nearly triple and the petrol price would need to be well over $3 per litre.

      report
    4. Adam Butler

      Engineer and Data Analyst

      In reply to Adam Butler

      The Public Transport Users Association of Victoria (PTUA) who have done the analysis in this area.

      report
    5. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      "The key difference is that road pays its way via fuel taxes and car rego, whereas rail is heaviliy subsidised" - I'm calling bullshit on this

      This only makes any sense if transport infrastructure was a money making venture.....which it is not, it will always loose money just like the fire brigade dont make a profit and public hospitals dont make money

      These services arent supposed to make money

      report
    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      Leith, I know economists tend to dislike reality, but have you ever heard of externalities? Have you ever considered the perfectly available data on the vast range of social, health, environmental and economic costs of roads, private vehicles, petroleum use, etc.?

      Until you're prepared and able to discuss the whole system, comments like this are just more economic psychopathology.

      report
    7. Kieran Nelson

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      Does this include the opportunity costs of the extra land required to widen Freeways compared to their equivalent PT alternatives? Also, is it more attractive to live next door to a suburban train line, a road with buses or a multi-lane Freeway?

      report
  5. robert roeder
    robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    Nearly 40 years ago I worked on the 30 odd floor of Australia Square in Sydney, some mornings you could not see George st, there was a brown cloud which appeared to be 15 to 20 floors below, on still days this cloud was around until after noon.
    Road infrastructure provides an existing foundation for the development of light rail and other public transport options, this would service the masses but provision would be required to cater for the needs of emergency and other public services the delivery of goods and an alternative for the mobility restricted.
    Dream on, left to our politicians it will never happen, they don't have the foresight or the courage for bold ventures.

    report
    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Jon Hurn

      Jon Hurn wrote : "NBN......?" The grand '1950s dream of transport' lives and breathes on through the 'clever' or lazy B/Boomer generation.
      The NBN, to the evolved who understand the potential along with form based architecture and it's promotion of local employment know this is our future.
      Sadly B/Boomers still run governments, cannot step off, admitting the future is automation and 'online'. They have failed "the generation jobless" and still insist their vision for motorised cites was 'right'. Stuck , unable to grasp upload speed is the new 'freeway' delivering intelectual property and creating wealth. You may well say; " NBN?
      http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21576663-number-young-people-out-work-globally-nearly-big-population-united
      Little did they know the 'electronic highway of the future' would be the NBN, however this redundant 1950s motorised dream persists.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iepyjVthBM&feature=share&list=PLCC5C8A112B5E88CD

      report
    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, you realy need to do a little more research and thinking before you keep falling back on the lazy and deeply simplistic trick of blaming baby boomers for everything you don't like.

      report
    3. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix MacNeill wrote; "...... research and thinking" On what? My comments on the 'dream' of the 1950s is valid, look at Australian history. We have spent billions on the motor vehicle industry and infrastructure. Where has that increased our productivity? Which generation took the country down this path? Which generation voted to keep a conservative worldview? Which generation has denied climate change?
      Felix MacNeill wrote; "blaming baby boomers for everything you don't like." Seriously? It's their Disneyland version of life the current generations are surrounded by. Totally and utterly surreal.

      report
    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, I think you'll find Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1960 - all the Disneyland visions were developed by those atually in power in the immediate post-war years...the 'dream of the 1950s' was the one I was born into (in 1956) rather than anything I created. What I and many others of my generation (who tend to get dismissed as old hippies for our troubles) did help/try to create was a whole set of alternative visions, including a reborn environmentalism and feminism.

      There's no denying…

      Read more
    5. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix MacNeill wrote"....... did help/try to create was a whole set of alternative visions, including a reborn environmentalism and feminism." This awareness is understood, Felix it is easy to forget your perspective is still only estimated at 2-3% of the population. Most of my understanding has been by reading the pioneers in various fields during this era, however these individuals were not part of the centre of gravity. No great thinkers have ever been.
      It is easy to believe others see with your clarity, anyone evolved through first and to second tier development has this advantage. It has often been termed 'common sense' but it is more like uncommon sense. In this forum there are many levels of thought on various stages of human development, generally there is no need for comments from me to apply to the 2-3%.
      'Tiers' refers to Dr.Clare Graves, Ken Wilber and Don Becks work on psychology, anthropology etc.etc.

      report
    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Paul Richards

      You might also like to consider issues around life phases and the differing world views and motivations that tend to accompany them. I strongly suspect you'll find that a great deal of the aparent 'conservatism' of boomers relates to their age, rather than generation. Start watching how the Gen X cohort, moving into their forties now (and therefore beginning to have accumulated a bit of both private wealth and general purpose disenchantment with life) are changing - you might even begin to detect…

      Read more
    7. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix MacNeill wrote Paul, I think you'll find Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1960 ......was the one I was born into (in 1956) rather than anything I created." In point of fact it was futurists from the 1900s to the 1930s vision finally fully presented, commissioned and paid for by the motor industry. The 'Shopping Mall' accessed en masse by motor vehicles travelling on 'freeways', was first designed to replace Form Based Architecture of the US Town and European Village. This Disneyland…

      Read more
    8. robert roeder
      robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Jon Hurn

      Jon, of course you are right, fiber to the home was not their first choice it came about due to Telstra's intransigence. The Snowy Mountain Scheme is another, it's nice to see sometimes they get it right

      report
    9. robert roeder
      robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, you might also like include our americanisation which turned us and others around the world into americlones. In the 50's the introduction of television and development of a huge advertising industry brainwashed the masses and created unquenchable demand.

      report
    10. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to robert roeder

      robert roeder wrote : " ..... masses and created unquenchable demand.." Its all about stuff.
      As you know the 'freeway and 'shopping mall' businesses support the advertising industry. A symbiotic relationship and so very pervasive on every level of media.
      All the generations following the boomers are effected, anyone who has done the metrics on sustainability understands exponential growth and recognises this is the driver of freeway development.
      The primary reason for highlighting Baby Boomers as the generation responsible, is that it started with them. In the Netherlands and other European countries, they rejected the motor vehicle dominance of their culture and turned the motorisation of cites and towns around. Our Baby Boomers chose not too.

      report
    11. robert roeder
      robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, I am not trying to wriggle out, Australia is a wide brown land, in the 50's we still had a large rural population how do you propose that their needs could have been serviced or are now being serviced other than motor transport perhaps like the National Party you just overlooked us.

      report
    12. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to robert roeder

      robert roeder wrote;" Paul, I am not trying to wriggle out ......... " Having lived a decade over the 26º parallel, being born in the country and logged thousands of long distance trips longer than 95% of the population. I grok your meaning. Yes, it is a wide brown land.
      Just consider how good road system could have been in the country if billions of dollars had not been spent over the last fifty years on what has become our joke of a motor vehicle industry. The Hume Highway, The Dirt Nullarbor…

      Read more
    1. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Edward Cannella

      "Roads mean construction. Construction means jobs. Jobs means a Government is working for the electorate. Jobs means happy voters. Road construction means contract variations"

      Yes and public transport doesnt mean construction? your arguement is an arguement for infrastructure spending not for roads specifically.

      As a general rule, if your argument can be applied to anything, then you dont have an argument, you have propaghanda.

      Ie. argueing that building roads means jobs as an argument for roads over public transport is a null argument as building rail also means jobs

      report
    2. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to Michael Shand

      What might have been omitted is that roadways tend not to require subsidy once built, which makes them a favourite of people who still operate under a conception of economics not dissimilar from a crude Profit/Loss balance sheet.

      report
    3. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ashley Hooper

      Your talking nonsense, maintenance on public infrastructure is neither subsidised nor paid for by itself

      Roads dont make money - they use tax money to maintain them

      Train Tracks dont make money - they use tax money to maintain them

      Where they source this tax money from may be from taxes on cars or land taxes from suburbs surrounding the infrastructure etc

      but the idea that because they introduced taxes on cars to pay for roads means that roads pay for themselves is nonsense

      Say they introduced a public transport tax to maintain the train tracks like they did for cars...does this mean it pays for itself? no, your still collecting taxes to pay for it

      Unless each driver is only paying for the roads they use - which cant be done without full toll roads then your argument is just semantics and obfuscation

      report
  6. John Campbell

    farmer

    Lucky country? Perhaps. Stupid country? Definitely.

    For years now governments should have realized road infrastructure is not the way. It causes congestion, pollution, health problems and reduces the quality of life.

    What is so urgently needed is proper urban planning around safe, timely and reliable public transport. This does not mean some expectation that we should all ride bicycles although they should clearly be included in the mix for those who want them.

    Planning should include means…

    Read more
    1. Leith van Onselen

      Economist

      In reply to John Campbell

      "We need to aim for a situation where public transport becomes a first choice for convenience and enjoyment not a poor second choice. I have long had this vision of the center of cities being clean, green (treed) and full of people enjoying life. I don't see any reason that it couldn't become a possibility.."

      The UK has attempted this through 60-years of strict urban planning and effectively precluding new development via the green belt. What has been the outcome? UK homes are now the smallest and oldest in Europe, and also amongst the most expensive. Why should Australia go down the same path?

      report
    2. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Leith van Onselen

      "UK homes are now the smallest and oldest in Europe" - alright so first of all they cant be the oldest in Europe, thats not possible.

      Maybe you meant on average in established suburbs within city prencints or something but you cant mean they are the oldest full stop.

      Secondly, and more importantly - I didnt realise they had lots of space in the UK to build big expansive homes? I mean if they have the space and a low population then why d....ohh wait, they have a huge population and limited space to house, grow food, produce energy, etc

      Big flashy new homes are not a sign of a healthy society

      report
  7. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    There are certainly different ways of looking at roads and myths I imagine hence how the arguments for freeways etc. develop.
    Just looking at some of what the author has put
    " Myth #1: New freeways reduce congestion

    Not only is this not true, but new freeways increase overall road use and contribute to worsening congestion. If you want to reduce road congestion — an understandably popular goal in our car-dependent capital cities — the only viable option is to reduce the demand for road space…

    Read more
    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Greg North

      Nice point in your final paragraph, Greg - we may well be producing what will, in a few decades time, be white elephants.

      report
    2. Simon Kerr

      observer

      In reply to Greg North

      I agree entirely we need to look at a range of transport mixes for a sustainable future. But I wonder what would happen if Melbourne built no new freeways at all, given population demands (8 million projected in the not too distant future. Frankly, we will need more road, though we cannot and must not put all our eggs in this one basket.

      "It could be, there'll be absolutely little congestion as everybody is cycling like mad along freeways devoid of motor vehicles or very few of them about"

      Hardly, If you live in the suburbs, you cannot get by without a car or some sort (especially if you have a family). I live in the inner city and ride a bike, but not everyone is as lucky as me or wishes this inner city lifestyle.

      But petrol vehicles will most definitely be replaced; there are a number of very positive much more sustainable vehicles being developed.

      report
    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Simon Kerr

      Well, maybe you might need to change your forward vision for suburbs Simon and start thinking of suburbs as more individual villages from which people travel less as already exists in much of Europe.
      You could find more people working more locally and instead of what we know as the current auto industry, there could be many more models like
      http://www.surreycompany.com/whats_new.htm

      Seeing as there are already electric motors available for bicycles, I would expect there to be no great difficulty in having a regenerative system with a moderate size battery for when rolling down hills and quad pedalling for four adults.

      As for eight million in the greater Melbourne sprawl, all the more reason for all levels of government to get real serious about decentralisation and satellite cities, looking at life cycle sustainability etc. rather than just forging ahead regardless.

      report
  8. Chris Lloyd

    Professor of Business Statistics, Melbourne Business School at University of Melbourne

    Leigh. I agree with most of what you say except myth 4. This is nto a myth at all. Waiting in traffic is a real loss. It does not need to appear in GDP to be real. Surely these days we recognise that GDP excludes many important factors, and waiting in traffic would be top of the list. My boss values my time at $x per hour. I value it slightly lower (or I would work less) but when I am in pain (as in traffic) the value/cost goes up!

    report
    1. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Lloyd

      Yes - I agree. Great article, but myth 4 is off the mark. What congestion costs is people's time. Whether or not that time would have been allocated to GDP growth is not the point - that cost needs to be measured and accounted for, even if it's just incurred as reduced quality of life.

      Leigh - I'd suggest you should recognise that congestion does cost society. But as you rightly pointed out, building more roads tends to increase, rather than reduce congestion - and therefore increases that cost. The fact that congestion is a real cost is an argument against, not for building more roads.

      report
    2. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      The question is, should we try to eliminate congestion?

      Expected congestion factors into peoples' decisions about where to live and work. Even to shop and go out.

      The vital thing is to provide alternatives to congested roads. Preferably transport modes with dedicated rights of way, so that they are able to bypass traffic jams. This means transit lanes, Bus Rapid Transit, Light/Heavy Rail as appropriate for the corridor. And safe walking/bicycling.

      I would argue that most roading projects should be scrapped, except for a few with very high benefit-cost ratios. Let congestion and, if necessary, road tolling manage demand.

      The idea that people should be able to go anywhere at any time at no cost besides their automobile's running costs is absolutely preposterous.

      report
    3. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ashley Hooper

      In part, I agree with you. To the extent that the cost of congestion is incurred by those who are causing it, it's self-regulating and we should arguably leave it alone. But congestion costs leak beyond just those stuck in traffic. Every time you purchase a product or service, the delivery of which involved road transport, you're paying extra for the cost of it sitting in congested traffic. It may not sound like much, but as almost everything we consume is delivered on roads, it adds up. So drivers who insist on using more than their fair share of the road are making us all pay extra. In fact, these "invisible" costs of congestion have been calculated as far more than the cost of maintaining/building roads. This is what drivers miss - they don't properly account for those costs when they claim they're over-taxed.

      report
    4. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      I see your point. (Time of day) freight lanes might be a good answer to this, although obviously these can't be instigated everywhere freight needs to get to.

      I guess it's another case of non-drivers subsidising drivers (as it is with local roads here in NZ, where approximately half of their funding is from local council rates). And that's before we even consider the economic externalities!

      report
    5. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ashley Hooper

      Economists often argue for user-pays charges, where you pay the marginal cost of your road use.

      We don't all pay a fixed $400 a year tax to fund movie theatres. We pay for each session we attend. Those who attend more films, pay more. Everyone sees the logic in that.

      But when it comes to roads, motorists hate the idea. You can't blame them, really. But good policies are not always popular.

      report
  9. Alan Luchetti

    Legal Editor

    Agree with all but point 4 as to which see <a href="http://www.harryrclarke.com/2010/02/07/daft-proposals-for-melbournes-transport-woes/">Harry Clarke</a>.

    Further points:

    Driverless cars will arrive before too long. Their better utilisation of road space will render any additional freeways redundant white elephants.

    Congestion pricing variably priced based on time of day and congestion proneness of location must eventually come. An unpriced scarce resource is lunacy.

    Externalities of CO2, pollutants, road accidents and lost productivity from time lost in congestion must enter our equations.

    Road pricing should pay for transit upgrades, assisted by density increases at all transit nodes. And I do mean all.

    Modes of transit should be modest enough to guarantee frequency. Crazy to run a train every 5 minutes if custom leaves it 90% empty.

    .

    report
    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alan Luchetti

      " Driverless cars will arrive before too long. "
      That might just be Myth #5 Alan.
      Whilst there has already been some work and even recent testing, I suspect we are many generations away from that being mainstream transport and just how much of road networks it would be suitable for is another question, not to mention day/night and weather conditions etc.

      report
    2. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to Alan Luchetti

      I think we all need to take a deep breath before counting too much on the transformational promise of driverless cars. I don't mean to say that they won't be transformational, but there is a lot of hype, and even a lot of the more realistic benefits will require fairly high uptake before coming to fruition.

      report
    3. Alan Luchetti

      Legal Editor

      In reply to Ashley Hooper

      Fair point, Greg and Ashley. I don't disagree, but I venture there will be driverless cars in operation before the end of the life expectancy numbers for new tollways that are right now being keyed into erroneous cost-benefit analyses. I put it no higher.

      Another point about new "freeways". They won't be. They will be tollways. And instead of rational road pricing to enhance the capability of the road network, we will have more spotty road pricing that has nothing to do with efficient management of movement. (Prime example, the Sydney cross-city tunnel. It's there to keep congestion out of the city but instead of tolling entry into the city to finance the tunnel, we are diminishing the tunnel use we want encourage by charging for it.) There are places for public-private partnerships but those places are decidedly not the isolated obstacles to rational network management that nearly all our tollways are.

      report
  10. Garry Baker

    researcher

    This is yet another proof that governments, both state and federal are hopeless when looking at things that require long term strategies. For instance, trying to accommodate even more cars at peak times, when three quarters of their seating space is usually empty. Single occupants, when a viable system of car pooling alone could drastically reduce the need for even more tar and cement. Not a difficult thing to construct these days with portable RFID tags stuck on the window for each occupant…

    Read more
  11. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    Brilliant Article, Thanks for posting.

    All you have to do is play Sim City 2000 to realise that building more roads means more people use the roads which means you need to build more roads which means more people use the roads....

    At some point the cost of maintenance for all these roads blows your budget and you dont solve the congestion problem

    But if you build public transport for some reason there are less cars on the road? wierd huh

    report
  12. Noel McFarlane

    Cycling advocate

    The evidence in support of Leigh's contentions is well established and, I believe, self evident. Decisions to build new 'freeways' are not hard to explain when you drill into the detail. For example, in NSW, the Carr government received massive upfront fees when approving various road and tunnel projects. In Melbourne, Eastlink (Scoresby), and in Sydney the M5 decisions showed governments pandering to outer suburban electorates, promising no-tolls and not mentioning to the wider communities what…

    Read more
  13. Zvyozdochka

    logged in via Twitter

    Something unmentioned here is the vice-like grip the road transport-related unions have on policy making.

    A read a few months ago the Transport Workers Union jointly with industry was predicting the "road transport task in Australia will double in 25 years" (or something similar). We simply can't afford to let that happen, but the political will won't be there to make sure it doesn't.

    When I see a "Truckies Carry Australia", I think "WHY?"

    report
    1. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      Demand for freight, the majority of which is non-contestable between modes (i.e. must be carried by truck, as trains only service a narrow range of destinations amongst other reasons), is determined by consumers, not the road freight industry or unions. They are just responding to that demand.

      report
    2. Zvyozdochka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      We can work the freight task far smarter, starting with making road-freight pay the true cost of use of the roads. I have to drive the Brand Highway reasonably regularly and it's constantly being repaired thanks to all the trucking heading north.

      For example; here in WA, why is diesel fuel transported to Merridan via road from Perth, or even Geraldton? Take a look at where the rail line runs.

      Another example; why are endless B-doubles used to move containers from Fremantle/Cockburn to Kewdale. We could have an electric light-rail shuttle system.

      report
    3. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      Trucks are charged more accurately than cars for their use of the road. This is based on calculated estimates of their (average) contribution to road wear/damage. The major cost of road use is not potholes, but the consumption of road real estate. We are effectively leasing this out for free.

      report
    4. Zvyozdochka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      "Trucks are charged more accurately than cars for their use of the road."

      I think that is highly contestable.

      Yuna is a small wheat town northeast of Geraldton, that has for sometime increasing wheat transport requirements. They used to have a rail spur line and the corridor is still clearly visible. The CBH contracted trucking company charges a per tonne transport price to growers. Not a dime of that is used to repair the rapidly deteriorating road or in fact the massive spending required to keep it in safe condition.

      report
    5. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      Yes, you're right. But truck registration costs are calculated by assessing the aggregate cost of road wear (in addition to other cost elements) attributed to all trucks, then splitting those costs between diesel excise and truck rego. The aggregate cost of trucks causing deterioration to roads is - to the extent that it is accurately assessed - always returned to truck operators. It has nothing to do with what the operator charges their customer for haulage.

      I did also say "more accurate" than cars, not perfectly accurate (which is impossible). There is no such equivalent charge for cars. Car rego. is calculated to pay for costs other than road maintenance/building (e.g. the cost of collecting rego!), while fuel excise - the bigger component - is no longer indexed, so in real terms it is gradually declining. You can join the dots on what that will eventually lead to.

      report
    6. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      Unions really?

      I think the transport companies would have an even bigger say in policy making, especially those that contribute to party funds?.

      Automobile clubs like RACQ, RACV, NRMA etc also seem to spend a lot of time and energy pushing for more road infrastructure.

      report
    7. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      You might just find Z that fuel delivery trucks also do deliveries along the routes they take and not just at end points.

      As for containers on light rail, just remember it is light rail and many containers are not always going to be so light, not even the rolling stock needed to support them.

      At the end of the day it is always going to be about economics for unlike governments, private enterprise has that aspect called competition.

      report
    8. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      Hi Julian

      The stated figure for contestable freight between rail and road has been stated as around 15% for many years. That is a very debatable figure, and probably differs greatly between urban and regional potential.

      But again, a conflux of factors works to limit not only the actual mode share by rail, but the potential.

      Potentially, a 15% modal shift from road to rail would save near 45 lives, and perhaps 450 serious injuries per annum, along with significant savings in fuel use and…

      Read more
    9. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      Thanks Peter. I wonder if the quoted figures on contestable freight are based on the status quo, rather than the potential factors which you argue may increase them? If so, then the quoted figure may not be "wrong".

      I suspect an advantage road transport has over other modes may be the sharing of road infrastructure with private transport. As private motorists as a bloc are obviously influential in encouraging govts to build road infrastructure, at that point there isn't a lot left for the road freight transport lobby to do.

      report
    10. Zvyozdochka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to John Campbell

      "Unions really?"

      Yes, road transport is a big employer and fairly highly unionised. They certainly have tried hard to stop rail container depot transport (taking it off road) here in Western Australia.

      report
    11. Zvyozdochka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Greg North

      There is some delivery yes, but not by B-doubles that go "off-road" to farmers.

      Most of the fuel to Kalgoorlie is road transported from Esperence or Kwinana. Liquids are the easiest things to handle via rail, but are now not near rail depots in Merriden and Kalgoorlie like they used to be.

      report
    12. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      Thanks Julian

      In reverse order, yes that is an advantage road has, and is certainly one factor in the "non-conspiracy" that often favours road over rail.

      Private motorists often think that proposed new bypasses for example are for them, when they are being built for road freight (not all - but some clearly are - it's in the submissions to IA).

      They also see that new freeways and bypasses will take road freight out of the traffic mix in towns and cities, so they support that as well, for…

      Read more
    13. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      I'm no expert, but the issue of which freight is contestable seems quite complex and even subjective. There seems to be a split in thinking between rail champions who believe more freight can be carried on rail, and freight customers who ultimately make the decision and seem a bit uninterested in the whole debate, and predominantly just use road transport. It's reliable, quick, flexible and affordable.

      I'm not poo-pooing rail at all, it just strikes me that there may be a gap between what is possible to move on rail, and what it would take to motivate freight customers to make the shift. Undoubtedly, many of the benefits of rail go to society more broadly and do not flow to freight customers specifically.

      report
    14. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      Julian, sorry I had to work late last night, and have not been near the computer again till now.

      You are spot on in regards to you above comments, and that adds more to the this very complex situation. The potential for rail can be subjective, but even looked at objectively your second para adds another good reason why the potentia isn't reached.

      And when I say rail, it's more a case of integrated intermodalism that is necessary and has the real potential.

      It is a complicated topic and I'd love to see a good honest and open froum where all these questions and issues could be thrashed out and a realistic plan for change developed.

      Again if we look at the infrastructure demand/provision situation, add in the congestion issues, safety issues, there's very good reasons involved.

      No forum I am aware of, has yet tabled all the nexuses and issues.
      Got any money to run one? I haven't!

      Cheers

      report
    15. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Greg North

      Except that they operate in a kind of sheltered workshop, with externalities neatly ignored...I wonder what commercial competition would look like in the REAL real world?

      report
  14. Gary Dean Brisneyland

    Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

    First off, there's nothing 'future' about our building more freeways. I say this just in case anyone thinks we're thinking of our kids here. Freeways are being built to 'cure congestion' . That's a current ill and nowhere does it say that the same ill will not re-appear. Further, forget the 'white elephant analogy, we want freedom and we want it now.

    Second, the picture you use is not an Aussie image, it's California, a US state half the size of NSW and home to some 40 million people plus many…

    Read more
  15. SUSTAINABLE POPULATION PARTY

    Written & authorised by William Bourke, Sydney

    Policy suggestions:

    1. Stable population
    2. Invest in public transport (mainly rail), not roads

    A stable population will help relieve overstretched infrastructure including hospitals, schools, roads and public transport.

    report
    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to SUSTAINABLE POPULATION PARTY

      William Bourke wrote;"A stable population will help relieve overstretched infrastructure ..... " So true. Just how many actually grasp K6-7 arithmetic of exponential growth. Most belive continual and exponential growth is a 'must' and essential for a thriving economy. Which in simple arithmetic terms is a fallacy. Our collective failure to read our environmental models, deliberately ignoring a natural equilibrium achieved through our earlier human evolution is almost unbelievable. How people cannot see that this 'growth' fixation of economics just serves to transfer wealth form one sector to another is stagering.
      Your statement is a fresh breeze, in this stagnate air of delusion.
      Thank you for the comment. Been using this link for over five years on various forum and it very rarely elicits a response. When people grasp it they are grateful though, some are just not ready for the reality hit;
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umFnrvcS6AQ&list=PL3ECD689343457398&index=2

      report
  16. John Campbell

    farmer

    If building more freeways would cure congestion then why hasn't it?

    So many freeways have been built there must be no congestion now?

    Or perhaps it is only new freeways that will cure congestion?

    Why are people so stupid that they don't realize the questions they are asking now are often the same questions that have been asked many times before with the same answers and the same results.

    Its a bit like nuclear energy, whenever and wherever you are you get the same story about how 'new' ones will be safer and more efficient without a mention that 'new' ones very soon become obsolete old ones.

    report
    1. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to John Campbell

      Hi John. New Freeways did "cure Congestion". Now we have new congestion. It is not the freeways that create congestion as some suggest, is the 'new users'. Now, as a farmer, are you happy for' new users' to come to the country?

      report
  17. Gary Dean Brisneyland

    Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

    This Freeway conversation highlights some real issues overall. I'm surprised that the main point some people highlight is our Pollies not caring. Then in all of the kerfuffel of conversation there are nary two contributors who have the same take, answers or solutions.

    Where there is any consistency, it smacks of heavy-handed communism. "Take the bus you ingrate", you can't afford to pay road tolls, push push get into that bus, hurry!" (cracking of the whip clearly audible).

    You know, if…

    Read more
  18. Frank Moore

    Consultant

    This writer perpetuates the great myth about Freeways: Myth#1. Freeways beget increases in cars and traffic.
    This is of course, politically correct nonsense - so often found in our politically corrected "universities".
    The annual importation of 100s of Thousands of new retail consumers - who really, really enjoy purchasing cars and joining "first world" traffic jams - is the sole reason for the increase in cars on our roads - be they freeways, arterials or ordinary streets.
    Misinformation such as presented above is the sole reason this population policy madness has been allowed to run amok unchecked.
    Hope the Volvo thing works out for you...

    report
    1. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Hi Frank, every now and then someone comes along with a true image of what they're talking about. You are correct also to my mind. Here's my agreed analogy; if I was allowed to increase the size of a National Park, more Flora and Fauna would likely ensue; that seems to be where the growth thing comes from. However I can only drive one car at one time and on only one road at a time. Further my car doesn't have babies. Further, to my mind, to say that charging for the privilege of road use further…

      Read more
    2. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      It's widely accepted that more roads = more traffic. The supply of road real estate is perennially at a premium, with traffic volumes limited by demand (i.e. choice of alternative transport modes). In practice, more people would prefer to drive than who actually do. The latter are discouraged by factors such as traffic congestion and the availability of practical alternatives (e.g. public transport).

      When you build more roads, that latent demand is absorbed by people who reason "Great! Now that…

      Read more
    3. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      Julian, if you really think that Anthony Albanese has heard that Gary would prefer to drive than take the bus and figures "let's build him a road", so be it. I will maintain the belief of my considered knowledge that road building is all about nation building, rightly or wrongly. While you confer with reports about more roads = more traffic, there are just as many reports that state that people are creatures of habit. We drive to work, we drive home etc etc. I will say here that many people driving…

      Read more
    4. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Gary, I'm unsure what "nation building" means. I would have thought that building roads had the primary objective of increasing the efficiency with how people get from A to B. Obviously, there are alternatives to building roads - the obvious one being the competing proposal to build the Metro rail tunnel in Melbourne. Due to the undoubtedly more efficient nature in which a train moves people along a train line (~1000 people on Melbourne trains at capacity), some argue that we should favour rail over…

      Read more
    5. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      To clarify the Nation Building term Julian. Remember I did say '...nation building, rightly or wrongly".

      "The Australian Government is investing $36.0 billion on road and rail infrastructure through the Nation Building Program over the six year period from 2008-09 to 2013-14." www.nationbuildingprogram.gov.au/

      Build more rail by all means, but the heading of the feature to which I contribute is "New freeways cure congestion; Time to put the myth to bed". I am considering the congestion of…

      Read more
    6. Julian Del Beato

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Gary, population growth is mostly independent of whether you build more roads or rail. It's the latter which must keep pace with the former.

      Certainly, building more road or rail will increase the utilisation of that mode. But the question is: which will best accommodate the growing numbers of commuters? Again, a train carries ~1000 passengers. Line up 700 cars (to carry 1000 - some will have more than one occupant) and the difference is obvious.

      Those advocating rail would argue that you…

      Read more
    7. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      Julian, and Zvyozdochka (below)

      The Swan Valley situation mentioned by Zvyozdochka below is a good case study I made of the we have with transport planning - and as Julian mentions above, the need to consider objectives and look at different solutions.

      I made a case study of Swan Valley some years back. There was an outcry that the highway was dangerous, and there were too many trucks, and a freight bypass was demanded.

      On checking I found that there was an existing rail line, with spare…

      Read more
    8. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      sorry, bit of a glitch there, which changes my meaning.

      I meant to say "it is likeley rail couldn't replace all trucks that travel through the Swan Valley, but if it could replace significant numbers as a long-term solution, it may also ,result in a different solution for road than an expensive bypass.".

      report
    9. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Julian Del Beato

      Build all the rail you want, but for some the issue is much deeper than road congestion. Currently public transport is glorified by the use of pretty coloured paints on buses that reads "Powered by Natural Gas". So? The damage that gas mining does to the world is horrific.

      It has been pointed out by many engaged in conversation here that Leigh's myths are not all correct in certain circumstances and that's the point of contribution. Even car makers will advise of ideal driving speeds and some…

      Read more
    10. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Gary Dean Brisneyland - exactly correct and obviously so.
      It's the sheer weight of the corruption that gets me.
      A whole generation of politicians, media and academics prepared to ignore "the elephant in the room" - knowing the damage being done to Australia's economy and ecology - and yet prepared to ride shotgun for the power mad and greedy merchants at the heart of this population bloat.
      This is corruption.

      report
    11. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Frank Moore wrote;" ... ignore "the elephant in the room" knowing the damage being done to Australia's economy and ecology" Take your point and understand. Strongly disagree, it is not "an elephant in the room". If you read about neoliberal value systems the "generation of politicians, media and academics" behaviour, fits the model of the neo-liberal meritocracy. Is the right set of values? Not to those evolved through this level of thinking, and this includes many here going on comments like yours.

      report
    12. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Absolutely correct again Frank. The analogies are many but maybe the best one to date is the 2008 animated movie, Wall-E. There, a robot is left on earth to clean up while a single but enormous rocketship full of BUY'N'LARGE, B&L consumers go on a "holiday" that lasts 700years because the earth just isn't ready for their return. Try studying Environmental Protection at Uni through Correct Planning Procedure; it's a joke to say the least, but as you say, 'shotgun'.

      report
  19. Zvyozdochka

    logged in via Twitter

    Here we go; $840m being spent on 40kms of road for trucking.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-14/federal-funds-for-swan-valley-bypass/4687708

    "It will run between the intersection of Reid and Tonkin Highway to Muchea, and cost a total of $840 million."

    This is so yet more freight can be driven north in WA. The transport unions love it and Federal Labor thinks it's "Nation Building".

    It wasn't all that long ago that freight went north to at least Geraldton by rail, or even by coastal sea freighters.

    report
    1. Noel McFarlane

      Cycling advocate

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      All part of the GDP. Just like our funerals. Or post disaster remediation.
      Sometimes it is clear what we SHOULD do, but it can also be clear that we will collectively do the opposite. It reminds me of listening last night to Bob Katter, Clive Palmer and the QLD treasurer agreeing on how it was just a given that more coal mining is good.

      report
    2. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Zvyozdochka

      Re Swan Valley - have a look at the comment above I made to Julian on that same issue. I mention rail, but of course you note sea freighters as another potential alternative. Good point.

      Ian MacFarlane is said by Warren Truss to have "staked his political career" on the $2b Toowoomba highway bypass for freight.
      But I doubt any politicians would do that for rail or sea solutions. At least from extensive study over 20 years I am yet to see that.
      Cheers

      report
  20. Ben Hu

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Thanks Leigh. Seems like you disagree with most myths. I think congestion could work for a short term, as government might use the collected congestion to build more freeways.

    However, if we look at the inconvenience of current public transportation system in Melbourne, most people would still use "freeways" to connect with each other. It saves time and money on travelling. Freeway Congestion (suppose it's no longer free any more) is not the solution to climate change.

    report
  21. Bradley Pattieson

    Student

    given the current state of Melbourne's public transport system and the millions of dollars that have been wasted in getting it to nowhere, I don't feel a congestion charge would work. If you are going to introduce something as dramatic as that, and you want people to use their cars less often, then there has to be an alternative form of transport that is just as quick and efficient, one that does not require you to squeeze in like sardines where you struggle to balance yourself while you stand on your feet after a long day at work on a train for 45 minutes just to get home. Perhaps once that is rectified people will take public transport rather than their car. Convenience and comfort is what people want. And at the moment that is in their cars.

    report
    1. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Bradley Pattieson

      Well said Bradley. Interesting to hear about your transport issues and your commonsense approach to fact. Good luck with your studies.

      report
    2. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Bradley Pattieson

      Bradley, a congestion tax - of, say, $1 million dollars Australian - would work. If applied to any person contemplating immigration to Australia.
      Such a policy would immediately reduce the bloating numbers coming into our cities - obviating any need to add yet more taxation to Australians.
      A new idea folks. A congestion tax placed on immigration - levied up front, prior to arrival, will remove any need for import intensive infrastructure projects - that in themselves - export nothing.

      report
    3. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Frank Moore

      In theory, immigration congestion tax; it's probably what should happen. It seems immigrants can enter the country and immediately start complaining about this and that and use the best of everything immediately.

      Try buying into a strong business without means. It doesn't work so should our country be seen as worth investing in, without simply coming in and taking from? I don't have all the answers.

      My forebears on one side, have been loyal Australian workers for hundreds of years and on the other side for tens of thousands of years. They worked for improvement to the country and lifestyle. And yet everyday, someone sees the need to squeeze people in tighter and ever tighter, everywhere. But I do wonder whether that's another story for another forum. Here, it's congestion, so hey yea, it's the same conversation.

      report
  22. Andrei Reztsov

    Mathematician, Senior Research Officer at the ACCM at UNSW Australia

    Let’s use exactly the same logic as Author did but apply it to … Public Health. Modern Medicine can cure many deceased that were killing scores of people before. After finding cure for one more highly dangerous disease we face other ones that were not contributing much before. It was simply because people died earlier, they did not reach the age when currently common diseases started playing their role. This is equivalent of “induced traffic”, is not it? What Author and some of Readers suggest is either to make treatment more expensive or force people do not come to the doctor at all. I am not suggesting that building of more roads is a solution. I am suggesting to consider the problem of trafficManaging/congestionPrevention/LifeStyle/PublicTransport/WorkStyle/ChargeGating/etc. as a complex one and try to solve it (together!) by improving first Traffic Management and Monitoring of Motorways and Arterial roads.

    report