Paul Austin reports in today’s Age that Eddington’s “Paris Metro style”* rail tunnel is looking increasingly like becoming a reality. Apparently, “Some Labor Party strategists believe a commitment to a rail tunnel would help Mr Brumby to go to the 2010 election portraying himself as a man of the future with a low-carbon-emissions plan to cater for the transport needs of Melbourne’s rapidly growing population.” It’s now very clear that this tunnel will be used as a political solution to Melbourne’s public transport woes, something I’ve blogged on before. While some may that the reasons don’t matter – so long as it’s built – I say that unless such a project is done properly, it merely wastes huge sums of money and further ingrains existing poor operating practices.
In other news, there have been some strange developments in the way Melbourne University are teaching transport planning. I’m sure you all recall that the university got rid of Paul Mees for his constant criticism of government (well they demoted him, but I’m sure they knew he was so proud that such a course of action would lead him to resign). There was quite a bit of controversy at the time about the university getting too close to (and therefore unduly uncritical of) the state government, but I believed they just wanted to get rid of him for more personal reasons – and having taken a subject with him before I know how abrasive and difficult he can be.
But I’m coming to reconsider this view – there are signs that the university is actually getting more cosy with the government on transport planning issues. Take for instance the recent piece in The Age by Nick Low and Bill Russell (now Melbourne Uni’s most prominent transport academics) in which they strongly supported Eddington’s rail tunnel while admitting they hadn’t seen detailed reasoning as to why it was needed. Moreover, my eyebrows were raised this morning upon receipt of an email regarding one of Mees’ old subjects – Advanced Transport Planning. I’m taking the subject for a bit of fun (yes, what a nerd I am) and I was surprised to read that Mees’ replacement is “mostly … guest lectures (sic) drawn from industry”. It’s running as a five day intensive in September – I’ll report back on what transpires.
* One would think given Australians’ predilection for international travel, that someone in the media would have picked up on the fact that Eddington’s proposal isn’t anything like a metro at all. Apparently they haven’t.