Data revealed by The Age on time savings for Victoria’s level crossing removal program, calls for a rethink on how Australian infrastructure projects are prioritised.
Despite $8.3 billion being invested into the level crossing removal scheme, it seems the removal of these crossings has shaved an average of just one minute off peak-hour commutes. How this chips away at Melbourne’s spiralling congestion costs, estimated to be $4.6 billion each year, is puzzling.
All of this begs two simple questions: as a nation have we reached a tipping point for our big cities? And, if we are aiming to protect our envied way of life, is now the time for a new plan?
Regional Capitals Australia, the organisation I Chair, believes the answer is obvious – Victoria’s 10 regional cities have room to grow with infrastructure that can be scaled on minimum investment.
This has been confirmed by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), when they estimated that the backlog of infrastructure investment in regional cities would cost about $15 billion to close.
Every time Infrastructure Australia releases the annual priority project list (compiled by business cases largely from State Governments), the top projects considered for investment are chiefly for metropolitan cities, leaving the needs of residents in regional cities ultimately ignored.
It is tempting to say that the traditional methodology used to evaluate key projects – travel time savings – is big city bias, but as this report shows, it seems it could also be irrelevant when deciding on which projects get the go ahead.
It is obvious the collective thinking of leaders at all levels is stuck in old thinking. We need to shift this thinking to a view that will use infrastructure budgets wisely to increase the productivity and liveability of regional cities. This could in no uncertain terms ease the metro population squeeze, while also increasing the quality of life for those in the country.
This is something for Melbournians to contemplate as they while away the hours in peak hour traffic, foot on the brake, going nowhere in a hurry.
Rachael Sweeney, Regional Capitals Australia Secretariat
P: 03 9666 3368
M: 0422 067 858
About Regional Capitals Australia
Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) is a national alliance of local government councils across the nation representing Australia’s regional cities. RCA’s mission is to provide a recognised platform to champion the strategic importance and sustainable development of regional capitals around the nation. To learn more about our work visit http://regionalcapitalsaustralia.org.
Available for Interview
Mayor Shane Van Styn – Chair, Regional Capitals Australia