If east-west traffic is so critical, why does the M1 only provide 2 through lanes each way?

The government argues that cross-city traffic is so critical that the they want to (without a mandate) spend $8 billion building just the first phase of the East-West tunnel.

If that’s the case, then why does the newly remodelled (2008-2010) M1 corridor only provide two lanes in each direction for those cross-city trips?

Eastbound (coming off the Westgate bridge, towards the Burnley tunnel):
M1 Eastbound signage - only 2 lanes through to east

Westbound (coming out of the Domain tunnel, towards the Westgate Bridge):
M1 Westbound signage - only two lanes through to west

…and another westbound view from a bit further on, where the lanes merge down to two:
M1 Westbound - only two lanes through to west

These pictures are all from Google Streetview, and actually show the freeway towards the end of the modifications… I’ve checked, and this is how it is today.

Road designers aren’t idiots. When they do massive remodelling like this to re-organise the lanes, they look at traffic flows. The Westgate bridge is now 5 lanes in each direction, and the Citylink tunnels are 3 each, but there are only 2 through lanes each way.

That leaves the conclusion that the traffic going from the east to the west and vice-versa is only a small proportion of the total traffic, particularly compared to numbers going over the Westgate.

Update Tuesday: I’ve had some feedback on this post (not via comments) to the effect that some thing this is twisting the truth, because various lanes leave and join the motorway along its length, so the total number of lanes at any one point is always more than 2. That’s true, but my point is that (particularly in congested conditions), the capacity of the M1 for east to west cross-city traffic is heavily influenced by the number of lanes that go all the way through… and this is only two lanes each way.

One person also pointed out an additional lane is available westbound via the Todd Road exit and the service station… but I would think it’s unlikely many drivers going from the east to the west would use this — plus I think it involves a merge with traffic from Kingsway and another from the Bolte Bridge southbound.

Politicians and their fake Postal Vote forms: don’t be fooled #AusVotes

One thing I really really hate about spammers is how they often insist on the bottom of their email that you’re receiving their crap because you subscribed to it.

They know it’s not true. I know it’s not true.

Along the same lines are these types of letters, one of which I received yesterday. The envelope makes it look official, non-party:

Official looking letter (1/3)

Inside it’s clear that the letter is party-political. Stop the boats. Build more roads (they don’t mention that they specifically refuse to fund public transport). Free you from the carbon tax (you know, the one almost individual was fully compensated for, and is having the desired effect of cutting carbon emissions).

Official looking envelope turns out to be party political letter (2/3)

And there’s a “Postal Vote application form”.

...with party-supported postal vote info (3/3)

…As Crikey noted in an article yesterday, it may look like a Postal Vote Application Form, but actually it’s a data-gathering exercise for the party involved.

Crikey adds that the information does get sent to the Australian Electoral Commission, but often there can be delays, and there have been cases in the past of forms being stockpiled, and some even get “corrected” along the way by the party.

The extra twist of the knife? Taxpayers/voters are actually paying for these letters.

The Liberals aren’t alone in doing this. Tens of thousands of people use these forms, via various parties.

Don’t be fooled. If you want to apply for a Postal Vote, do it via the AEC.

If Abbott’s Coalition won’t build rail, why does their policy document include a rail icon?

If Tony Abbott’s Coalition won’t build rail, why do they include a rail icon on their infrastructure policy?

At least, I’m assuming it’s an icon for rail — not giant white picket fences to keep out asylum seekers, or something like that.

Abbott: infrastructure policy 2013

(The above is from the summarised version. The slightly more detailed policy document is here).

True, they’ve specified they won’t build urban rail, but it seems pretty clear their plan is to build lots of roads, and no rail at all.

In fact, their plan proposes a frenzy of motorway construction right across the country. Truly a pave-the-planet scenario: Melbourne East-West Link, multiple projects in Sydney, Brisbane Gateway Motorway, Adelaide South Road, Tasmania Midland Highway, and a bunch in Perth.

One can only conclude that they really believe that — unlike every other major urban road project in history — this massive road expansion will somehow solve traffic problems.

Unfortunately this kind of popularist, car-oriented thinking misses is the point that transport is supply-driven. Traffic demand grows to fill the available capacity.

When it comes down to it, this means if you want more people to drive, building more roads is the way to do it. If you want more people to use public transport, provide more of that instead.

If elected, Mr Abbott will fund more roads, which will fill with more traffic — further undermining sustainable transport modes, not the least by starving them of billions of dollars of funding for years. Wonderful.

Some thoughts on the Labor leadership spill

A few thoughts on Federal politics from the last few days.

I think Gillard did some great stuff. Carbon tax (some don’t like it, but it works), National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Royal Commission into child abuse, and (along with her predecessors on both sides) keeping the economy afloat in dire economic times — and all while dealing with the challenges of a minority government, making it difficult to get anything done at all.

Introducing KevinBut for whatever reason (probably a combination of sexism and problems of running a minority government), she had zero chance of winning the next election for Labor.

Rudd is apparently a control-freak and difficult to work with, but has a small chance of winning. Small is greater than zero. And even if Labor can’t win, it’s better to have an Opposition that works than an Opposition that’s been almost totally destroyed.

Why is this important? Because the Coalition under Abbott is regressive on key points. For me, the two biggest are that they won’t fund urban public transport, only roads; and they will abolish the carbon tax even though it works.

And of course there’s Abbott’s half-baked (but most of the cost) version of the National Broadband Network — completely lacking in the vision to see the types of emerging IT-based industries that could help drive the next economic boom, as well as bring benefits right across the country, especially in regional areas, such as much better (remote) access to medical services and advice.

(I fully suspect that if Malcolm Turnbull hadn’t lost the Liberal leadership vote by a single vote, the Coalition would have a much more enlightened view on these three issues.)

One more thing: Abbott and others are criticising Rudd because he wasn’t elected by voters to be leaders. Abbott didn’t have such criticisms when Napthine took over from Baillieu in Victoria. Reality is, us voters don’t directly elect leaders. Both Rudd and Napthine are legitimately leaders.

Update 29/6: Added picture of ad for “Despicable Me” that I saw on the side of a bus earlier in the week.

Thatcher and her privatisation legacy

It’s inevitable that the passing of Margaret Thatcher would provoke mixed responses. Such polarising figures often do.

She may have been a trailblazer for women in power in the western world, but I don’t remember her time as Prime Minister fondly. I was young and perhaps it was a naive viewpoint, but I remember the early-80s under her and Reagan as a time of real fear from nuclear war.

The real situation probably wasn’t that fraught (people cleverer than me could theorise how tough-talking from the west helped bring down the iron curtain), but some have pointed out that Thatcher was against German reunification and did not support sanctions for South Africa against Apartheid.

In terms of lasting legacies, the one that sticks out for me was that her privatisation of numerous nationalised industries.

Wikipedia notes:

Thatcher always resisted rail privatisation and was said to have told Transport Secretary Nicholas Ridley “Railway privatisation will be the Waterloo of this government. Please never mention the railways to me again.” Shortly before her resignation, she accepted the arguments for privatising British Rail, which her successor John Major implemented in 1994. The Economist later considered the move to have been “a disaster”.

Disaster indeed. My mother recounted how, on a visit to Britain after it happened, at a railway station a staff member couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give her any information about a different train company that also happened to serve that station.

Half the train network

In transport and in other sectors, this mess was later replicated here in Victoria — perfectly illustrated by this on-board train map from the early Connex days. It not only excludes the half of the network that Connex didn’t run, it also excludes the underground Loop stations where Connex did run, because these stations were managed by the other operator.

Later reforms, both here and in the UK, fixed many of the issues around privatisation.

Some industries, including public transport, can’t rely on companies that only compete, and never co-operate. PT operators need to work together to form a network — because their real competitor is the private car.

Anyway, I’m rambling a bit off my original topic. But that’s blogging, right?