State Budget: Good for road safety, light on light rail
18 May 2012
The RAC says the 2012/13 State Budget will be welcomed by motorists and will make a significant start on reducing the number of deaths and injuries on WA roads.
But the Budget lacks vision on the urgent need to expand the public transport network to meet the growing demands of a population which the government says is growing at the rate of 1,000 people per week.
RAC Head of Advocacy Matt Brown said the Budget had picked up on many of the suggestions put forward by the RAC in its pre-Budget submission.
- Increases in motor vehicles registration and drivers licence fees kept at or below the rate of inflation
- Funding confirmed for the Road Trauma Trust Fund for almost $90million of new road safety projects targeting run-off-road crashes on country roads, high risk metropolitan intersections and dangerous driving behaviour
- Funding renewed across the Forward Estimates for existing road safety programs such as Black Spots ($20million p.a.) and Safer Roads ($35million p.a.)
- New funds ($20million p.a. over two years) for cycling infrastructure
- Additional funds ($105million) to tackle inner city congestion including work on the Graham Farmer Tunnel, widening the Mitchell Freeway and additional CAT buses
- Confirmation of State government funding ($317million over Forward Estimates) for the Gateway WA project around Perth’s new joint domestic/international terminal.
Despite the welcome commitments to additional road projects, the State government contribution to the Main Roads Assets Investment Program in 2012/13 has only increased by
around $50million (including an under-spend from the current year), with a further increase of $107million from Commonwealth grants.
The delays to projects such as the Fremantle Traffic Bridge Replacement, the South Western Highway (from Donnybrook to Greenbushes) and Marble Bar Road (Coongan Gorge area) are
regrettable. These projects should not be allowed to slip further off into the future.
The Budget fails to deliver significant new funds for major public transport projects in the draft WA Public Transport Network Plan released in July 2011.
While there is a future provision for public transport associated with the new Perth Stadium, the only new funding for new projects is $3.5million over two years for planning
work for a light rail service. The Budget papers make it clear the service will be planned for the northern suburbs, leaving question marks over additional links to growth
centres such as Curtin University.
The additional funds for cycling infrastructure are welcomed but the funds are not carried through in the Forward Estimates beyond the first two years. While it is reasonable to
allocate $10million in the first year to build momentum, significant additional funds should be allocated in the second year and beyond to get the job done quickly.
On balance, the State Budget provides a solid outcome for motorists in relation to the cost of motoring, the safety of our road network and in terms of making a start to
tackling congestion problems around the CBD.
However our growing congestion problems will not be solved without significant, early commitments to new public transport projects.
The RAC will be looking to all major parties to spell out their commitment to accelerating the expansion of the public transport network prior to the 2013 State election.
Download the release (pdf)