More on Melbourne Airport rail link

There’s been a strong reaction, predominantly negative, to my oped in The Age this morning where I argue that there are higher priorities for scarce transport funding at this time than the CBD-Airport rail link championed by the Lord Mayor and The Age.

I expected a hot reaction because The Age’s online poll is currently running 97% in favour of a rail link. Also, there were 208 comments, almost all strongly in favour of a rail link, on this piece run by The Age last Monday.

Some commenters seem to think my brief must be to defend the Minister for Transport and the Government. Others think I must be in the pocket of Skybus, the taxi industry, the Government, or all three. Someone’s even accused me of being anti public transport and of lamenting the decline in driving in my earlier post Why is Gen Y driving less? Lukas, who says he works in DPCD, reckons the consensus “around here” is we do need the link and the reason it’s not happening is “so many industries …have their hands in Brumby’s pockets”. Phew!!

Now that the flood of invective is slowing, let me say that not one of these personal insinuations is true. It is possible to raise serious questions about the desirability of this or any other transport project without being corrupt, incompetent or worse. No project, rail or otherwise, is automatically a “no brainer”.

My point remains that on the information publicly available, it does not seem to me that a rail link from the CBD to the airport is as high a priority at this time as some other pressing transport needs, such as improving outer suburban public transport services. Airport users generally have much better, if imperfect, options at present than those who live in the vast reaches of suburbia. Read the rest of this entry »