Road money will ease congestion but it won’t last

Frustrated freeway commuters can be forgiven for shouting for joy with the news of the Government’s decision to bring forward a $58 million project to widen sections of the Kwinana Freeway to three lanes . But the celebration won’t last, as congestion will rapidly increase to current levels even with the new lanes, predicts Greens WA Transport spokesperson, Hon Lynn MacLaren MLC.

“The State Governments’ abject failure to invest in public transport infrastructure over decades has left Perth’s population helplessly car dependent. Now Perth urgently requires significant expenditure on alternatives like light rail. This multimillion dollar allocation to widening the freeway is a desperate act to stem the tide of traffic and appease commuters for another year or so,” said Ms MacLaren.

“Smart cities around the world have realised that increasing road capacity to deal with congestion simply doesn’t work. Effective transport systems are not dependent on extensive roadways. Money would be much better spent on a comprehensive light rail plan. This will take significant pressure off the road system,” Ms MacLaren added.

“Considering our population, Perth already has an extensive road network. Per head of population, Perth has more than twice as much roadway as San Francisco, ten times that of Singapore or thirty times that of Hong Kong. These are all very productive cities with thriving ports, Ms MacLaren concluded.

Due to a combination of poor urban planning and inadequate public transport provision, Perth has become one of the most car-dependent cities in Australia. A recent survey of commuters across Australia found that Perth commuters were the highest users of private vehicles in the country, with 70 per cent of commuters opting to drive their cars to and from work . Because of its over-dependence on motor vehicles, Perth is facing significant environmental, social and economic impacts.