Get real on traffic congestion claims, academic tells trucking

University lecturer takes a shot at trucking operators complaining about congestion and says government should focus on segregated rail system

By Ruza Zivkusic | July 12, 2011

A university lecturer has dismissed as "nonsense" complaints from the trucking industry about traffic congestion and says government should focus more on rail instead of road projects.

RMIT University senior transport lecturer Paul Mees says government needs to invest in a segregated passenger and rail freight system. He believes Victorians need to "get on" with fixing rail, saying it is not financially viable to build enough roads to eliminate congestion.

"No other city has been able to do it and we’re not going to be the first. Most of the suggestion that freight congestion is a problem is just nonsense; the reason why you know it’s nonsense is because if you really think congestion is crippling the freight industry then freight businesses would move to locations that minimise their travel costs," he says.

"In fact they don’t – they move to the cheapest land, to locations that generally maximise their traffic costs and what that shows is that in spite of their complaining their supposed cost of congestion for freight forwarders is much lower than usually claimed.

"If there really is a problem with freight congestion then the simplest solution is to rearrange the space location of freight depots in order to minimise transport costs."

Mees claims linking the Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road to ease congestion is not the way to go because the project will be "enormously" expensive while failing to create significant benefits.

He says cost-benefit analysis shows the project is not the answer to looming traffic problems and adds that: "various interests are pushing for [it] as if there was a magic pudding and we could spend money as if it was water and it didn’t matter whether the projects were actually going to deliver any benefits or not."

"We have to face up to that there is no city of four million people anywhere in the world that doesn’t have traffic congestion; we need to relax a little bit about that."

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