Just get on with do­ing it

Mercury (Hobart) - - LETTERS -

HTHIS GOVERN­MENT SEEMS DE­TER­MINED TO HAS­TEN VERY CAU­TIOUSLY ON HO­BART IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE — EVEN THOSE THAT

HAVE MAS­SIVE PUB­LIC SUP­PORT.

OBART’S traf­fic prob­lems might not be of the scale ex­pe­ri­enced in the big main­land cap­i­tals. But per­cep­tion is re­al­ity, and ac­cord­ing to the

Mer­cury’s sur­vey of 2500 Tas­ma­ni­ans it’s a big is­sue — and it’s get­ting worse. An as­tound­ing 82 per cent of those who re­sponded to the sur­vey on our web­site an­swered in the af­fir­ma­tive when asked if traf­fic con­ges­tion had wors­ened over the past 12 months.

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, it now takes Tas­ma­ni­ans an av­er­age of 23 min­utes to get to work. Sixty per cent say they drive, with 10 per cent walk­ing and 8 per cent catch­ing the bus. (Just 36 of the 2549 re­spon­dents say they car­pool.) Com­mut­ing time is an im­por­tant is­sue to con­sider when think­ing about Tas­ma­nia’s fu­ture. The point of liv­ing in a smaller city like Ho­bart is the life­style it af­fords in com­par­i­son to the big­ger ones. Time spent sit­ting in traf­fic is a key in­di­ca­tor of that. En­sur­ing that as much as pos­si­ble is be­ing done to keep a lid on com­mut­ing times should, then, be a key pri­or­ity both of state govern­ment and lo­cal coun­cils.

On this, the Hodg­man Govern­ment has taken some ten­ta­tive early steps. It has in­tro­duced peak-time clear­ways on the main through-CBD thor­ough­fares of Mac­quarie and Davey streets, and it has promised that by 2022 a small-scale ferry oper­a­tion will be hap­pen­ing be­tween Sul­li­vans Cove in the city and Bel­lerive. Th­ese are wel­come de­vel­op­ments, but they are far from all that is re­quired. On the fer­ries, for in­stance, what is needed is a full-scale network that prop­erly links our river­side sub­urbs with the CBD — with ad­di­tional park­ing pro­vided near those stops. That is a long way from what the Govern­ment has pro­posed. And so it won’t work. The only rea­son peo­ple take pub­lic trans­port is if it is a de­sir­able al­ter­na­tive. That means they must be able to get home quickly if they work late, for in­stance. A ferry ser­vice that op­er­ates even a on­ce­hourly timetable be­tween 9am-5pm will only ap­peal to tourists. And that’s not go­ing to take a sin­gle car off our in­creas­ingly con­gested roads. How pop­u­lar would a proper ferry network be? Our sur­vey sug­gests it would have 72 per cent sup­port.

Mean­while, the Glenorchy City Coun­cil could hardly be more des­per­ate to ac­com­mo­date a light rail sys­tem (or sim­i­lar) to run along the cur­rently empty old rail cor­ri­dor that links Brighton with Mac­quarie Point. And yet the Govern­ment is not ex­actly charg­ing to­wards the idea. Years af­ter it was first pro­posed, it has only re­cently ad­ver­tised for a trans­port con­sul­tant to un­der­take a study into the best so­lu­tion for the old rail cor­ri­dor. It’s an­other ex­am­ple of this govern­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to has­ten very cau­tiously on such mat­ters — even those with mas­sive pub­lic sup­port, such as the 80 per cent back­ing that our sur­vey found for the north­ern sub­urbs light rail project.

One won­ders if there might not be ma­jor­ity po­lit­i­cal will in­side the Cabi­net room to de­liver sig­nif­i­cant in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments for Ho­bart. What is the po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit for Bass MP In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Michael Fer­gu­son, for in­stance, in cut­ting the rib­bon on some­thing big for Ho­bart? Per­haps it’s a bet­ter po­lit­i­cal strat­egy to just study th­ese ideas and put it all off un­til af­ter the next elec­tion … maybe even the next.

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for all ed­i­to­rial com­ment is taken by the Edi­tor, Chris Jones, Level 1, 2 Sala­manca Square, Ho­bart, TAS, 7000

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