The head of Victoria’s infrastructure body has warned that without government intervention COVID car habits could become entrenched, causing long term damage to liveability in Melbourne.
Infrastructure Victoria says new modelling shows average vehicle speeds will dramatically slow if COVID-shy Melburnians continue to eschew public transport, cutting average peak hour travel speeds to a 21 km/h crawl.
CEO Michel Masson says in a worst case scenario car use in Melbourne will increase by around 15 per cent compared to pre-covid levels – the equivalent of 100,000 additional car trips a day.
As we emerge from holidays and return to work and school, a range of measures are needed to get commuters safely back on to public transport to get the city and the economy moving again.Michel Masson
He also warns that public transport use is unlikely to get to above 60 per cent of what it was pre-pandemic.
Infrastructure Victoria’s Transporting Melbourne’s Recovery, released on Wednesday, outlines a range of policy measures to ease congestion on inner-city roads, including investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, cheaper off-peak public transport fares and encouraging working from home.
Modelling by the independent advisory body suggests it’s possible to increase cycling and walking trips each day by 265,000 and indicates that increasing the number of cyclists by 55 per cent could save 18 minutes of sitting in traffic for every driver in inner Melbourne.
“As we emerge from holidays and return to work and school, a range of measures are needed to get commuters safely back on to public transport to get the city and the economy moving again,” Mr Masson said.
Other recommendations in the report include campaigns to encourage up to 25 per cent of Melbourne workers to continue working from home at least some days of the week, additional off-peak public transport services and support for local government to re-allocate parking and road space for pedestrians.
The state government will introduce 30 per cent cheaper off peak fares as a trial in February.
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