Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Are the LNP's Public Transport Policies Destructive?

Brisbane Metro
A recent anonymous comment on BrizCommuter's blog made BrizCommuter think - are the LNP's public transport policies purposefully destructive?

There are quite a number of policies that support this claim, as below:

BaT Tunnel - Cross River Rail (CRR) had gone through multiple review processes so that the most appropriate alignment was chosen. The project was "shovel ready" and waiting on funding. When the Newman LNP state government was voted into power in 2012, CRR was quickly canned for the Bus and Train (BaT) tunnel. This tunnel eliminated the essential bus and rail interchange at Park Rd/Boggo Rd, thus making the project less fit for purpose, and less value for money. Property that around Yeerongpilly that had been purchased for CRR, was sold. After the Newman LNP government lost power in 2015, the BaT Tunnel was quite rightly dumped by the Palaszczuk ALP government. However, due to the properties at Yeerongpilly being sold, the CRR project has had to go through yet another planning process. The BaT Tunnel has set back the urgently required CRR by at least 4 and half years and counting. There have also been claims in the press that the LNP never intended on building the BaT Tunnel.

Brisbane Metro - For the 2016 Brisbane City Council elections, LNP Lord Mayor Graham Quirk announced the Brisbane Metro as a policy. This plan was to spend $1.54b on converting the busway from Wooloongabba to Herston into a non-driverless rubber-tyred metro. This completely detracts from the state government plans for Cross River Rail, and distance future plans for a Brisbane Cross City Metro. Quirk's Metro would have no increase in capacity compared to the busway it replaces. It would force passengers to change from bus to metro just outside of the CBD, increasing journey times. It would force some bus routes back onto congested CBD roads. It would chaos for 6 years during construction when the busways would be out of use. It does not serve UQ  or RBWH, and annoyingly would terminate on stop short of the latter. There are so many things wrong with this idea, it appears to be a "thought bubble" idea designed to throw a huge spanner in the works of Brisbane's public transport system and future plans.

Cleveland Solution - Back in January 2012, in the lead up to the state elections,  the LNP Brisbane Council Council, part of Council of Mayors SE Queensland (COMSEQ), proposed a half-baked alternative to Cross River Rail called the Cleveland Solution. It was planned to link the Cleveland and Ferny Grove Lines with a mainly elevated train line through Brisbane's CBD. Shorter more frequent trains would run on these lines. The costing was underestimated, and the plan would have caused chaos at level crossings that would have been closed to car traffic for more than 50% of the peak periods. The Cleveland Solution would have only increased train capacity through the CBD by only 33%, instead of 100% from CRR. It appeared to be yet another ill-though out plan to divert attention from the well planned CRR. Little has been heard of this idea since 2012.

City2Suburbs Bus Tunnel - This was also another odd initiative of the LNP Brisbane City Council in September 2013. This involved a totally unnecessary $2.2b bus tunnel underneath Brisbane's CBD between Cultural Centre and Centenary Place. The Adelaide Street axis is rarely congested, so what was the point? A bridge parallel to the Victoria Bridge was proposed, when simply "Green Bridging" the Victoria Bridge (as recently proposed by The Greens) would have the same benefit for a much lower cost. The City2Suburbs obviously wasn't too pressing an idea, as there has been no mention of it in the 2016 Brisbane City Council election campaign.

2013 Bus Review - In 2013, TransLink redesigned Brisbane City Council's bus network to improve efficiency and allow for more high frequency bus routes. Centenary and Northern suburbs would have been served by high frequency bus services for the first time. The LNP Brisbane City Council was highly obstructive towards these changes. The LNP state government transport minister Scott Emerson "gave up" and handed the bus review to the LNP Brisbane City Council who promptly dumped it. Brisbane City Council's bus review mainly just resulted in costs to bus routes, with Brisbane's embarrassingly inefficient and confusing bus network remaining to this day. It is bizarre that the LNP state and council governments could not co-operate, and that the destructive Newman government gave up so easily when they had no issue with upsetting public servants, doctors, lawyers, judges, and solar owners. In the meantime Auckland and Houston redesigned their bus networks with no major issues.

15 Minute Off-Peak Train services - This was planned, but not implemented by the ALP Bligh government. However, when Campbell Newman came to power, a "2 year trial" 15 minute off-peak service was implemented on the Ferny Grove Line from mid-2012. Commuters on other lines had to wait another 18 months for 15 minute off-peak services (and improved peak train services) to be expanded onto other lines in January 2014.

Federal Funding - The LNP Abbott federal government refused to fund Cross River Rail, the extension of the Gold Coast Light Rail (G:Link) for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and many other urban rail projects around Australia. This has set back many public transport projects in Australia by many years. Thankfully things seem to be improving after Tony's ousting.

Whilst it needs to be noted that the ALP are also lacking in competence when it comes to public transport (with plenty of planning, and not much funding), the LNP seem to take the prize for incompetence. Given all of the above examples, it certainly appears that the "pro-car" Liberals are purposefully trying to derail public transport progress with laughable and destructive policies that will never happen, diverting attention from what really needs to occur. If their policies are not intentionally destructive, then the LNP certainly have a well oiled machine for producing half-baked and ill-though out public transport projects.

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