Private industry to blame for transport woes: expert

May 28, 2010 · Print This Article

By David M. Green

Private industry “carpetbaggers” put their own self-interests above improving the efficiency of Melbourne’s trams, a leading expert has said.

RMIT University senior lecturer in integrated transport planning Dr Paul Mees said the Government decision to order 50 new trams showed a serious distortion of transport planning and spending vast amounts on new rolling stock would be a waste of taxpayer money.

“The carpetbaggers in the private industry have no interest in improving efficiency (of Melbourne’s tram network),” Dr Mees said.

While Yarra Trams and the Australian Industry Group welcomed the new trams, Dr Mees said the private industries are only interested in profits and more trams would have little effect on the overall efficiency of Melbourne’s tram network.

“Improving efficiency is more important than wasting money on new infrastructure,” Dr Mees said.

A Melbourne tram. Photo: mikef_man (Flickr)

A Melbourne tram. Photo: mikef_man (Flickr)

But Victorian director of the Australian Industry Group Tim Piper has called on the State Government to quadruple the number of new trams ordered over the next five years from 50 to 200.

“Tendering for a significantly greater number of trams would encourage local manufacturers to upscale their facilities, knowing there will be sufficient demand to support the investment,” Mr Piper said.

Department of Transport spokesperson Kirsten Harvey Taylor said in an email the $38 billion Victorian Transport Plan included $1 billion for 50 new trams and a new tram depot at Preston.

“These trams will be able to carry a total of more than 10,000 people at any one time,” Ms Taylor said.

Dr Mees said the Government should implement several low-cost alternatives to improve efficiency using current infrastructure, such as refurbishing existing trams, improving the street and traffic control systems and introducing “intelligent timetabling”, which would run more trams in areas where patronage is high.

“Melbourne’s trams are not old by world standards, but we have some of the slowest trams in the world,” he said.

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