Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (18:02): The matter I raise tonight is to the Minister for Planning, Minister Wynne. I ask the minister to urgently review the plans for the new busway to Doncaster as part of the North East Link Project to ensure it offers the best solution for commuters and to place a priority on the construction of this busway.
As part of the North East Link draft design, a new busway is proposed that will run in dedicated lanes along the northern edge of the Eastern Freeway. It includes the expansion of the existing park-and-ride at Doncaster and a new bus interchange at Bulleen. I understand the busway will be able to support up to 140 buses an hour, but I question whether this is enough, and I also question how the already congested Hoddle Street exit will manage as these buses merge into the existing bus lanes and traffic flow there.
Residents of Manningham, where this busway will begin, are totally reliant on buses and cars to get into the city. A seven-year construction period on the North East Link will mean disruptions to travelling patterns in our growing north-eastern suburbs have the opportunity to turn into new habits. I would very much like to make sure those new habits are good ones—that commuters choose public transport rather than use the rat runs. However, I am not convinced the current busway plan will achieve this.
This busway must be a rapid transit service. It must be more than a token bolt-on to meet the minimum requirements under the Transport Integration Act 2010 and it must be designed to quickly connect people directly with the city centre’s trains and trams. I believe we need to look at some of the innovative, scalable solutions, such as autonomous trackless trams, that we are now seeing in other countries, and build them before we start the seven years of construction chaos that will cause huge disruption to this road network. So I ask the minister to prioritise the planning and construction of the Doncaster busway.
I asked the Planning Minister to prioritise the planning and construction of the Doncaster busway and fix the mess of merging into traffic at Hoddle Street.