Just get on with doing it
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