30.06.2020Good move: Fixing transport congestion: is user pay pricing the solution?
The Committee for Melbourne has long said that Melbourne needs an integrated transport plan which provides quality access for Greater Melbourne to ensure it remains a prosperous, liveable city. While COVID-19 took a lot of traffic off the road, in the recovery phase we will once again face congestion and overcrowding on our roads. We therefore support a policy which factors user pay pricing into future planning as proposed by Infrastructure Victoria (IV) in its latest report, Good Move: Fixing Transport Congestion.
What is important is that we bring the community along with us. The Committee partnered with Infrastructure Victoria in a virtual transport forum on 25 May to help our members understand the arguments for such an approach. IV’s Jonathan Spear and Moses Lee discussed the key themes of the report, including the findings from their research and discussed the arguments with experts from the City of Melbourne and RACV.
The report identifies three critical issues with Melbourne’s transport network:
Travel times are becoming longer and more variable
Traditional solutions are not enough to reduce congestion and overcrowding
The current pricing system does not provide enough incentives for commuters and lacks fairness
Without meaningful action to address these issues, congestion and overcrowding will worsen. According to IV’s data, unless a comprehensive, network-wide change is made to the pricing of Melbourne’s roads, public transport, and parking, Victoria will incur an additional $10.2 billion in operating and pollution costs by 2031, with Melburnians making an additional 3.5 million trips on the network.
The implementation of transport network pricing would need to form part of a suite of initiatives to address congestion and overcrowding. Other initiatives, including policies that encourage greater uptake of active transport, will also be required.
Despite the likelihood that more people will work from home following the COVID-19 crisis, congestion and overcrowding will return to Melbourne’s transport network. Setting the right prices, in conjunction with other policy initiatives, will help alleviate these issues, and ensure that existing assets are being fully optimised.
Our expert panel, Alison Leighton (City of Melbourne) and Peter Kartsidimas (RACV) agreed that changes to Melbourne’s transport pricing structure were necessary, as were additional policy initiatives which incentivise commuters to consider alternative forms of transport. They noted that historically, Victoria has had the ability to make significant changes to the functioning of its transport system when required, and given the current social and economic environment, now is the right time for a step-change in how we manage the transport system.
Committee for Melbourne extends its thanks to Infrastructure Victoria for its partnership and encourages the Victorian Government to consider the recommendations from the report.