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  • Main Roads blind spot in Perth traffic congestion

    2018 - 07.03

    The WA Auditor General has confirmed what Perth commuters instinctively know: travel congestion into the city in the mornings is getting worse and peak hour trips are taking longer than ever before.

    Colin Murphy has also found that Main Roads and the Department of Transport have a blind spot, with neither agency having a clear road map as to how to best manage congestion.

    Mr Murphy released his report on Wednesday that detailed “Main Roads Projects to Address Traffic Congestion”, with a key finding that there was no overarching strategy for dealing with congestion and “no agency is clearly required to lead action”.

    “Demand on the road network had increased and Main Roads predicts that traffic congestion will get worse,” Mr Murphy said.

    The Auditor General said his department had reviewed eight projects designed to address congestion, totalling $141 million, and found they had been delivered on time and budget and had achieved their intended outcomes.

    “However, the way Main Roads prioritises its project choices was not always clear, and as a result I could not be certain the most effective or efficient projects were getting priority,” he said.

    In 2007, the Commonwealth Government Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimated that by 2020, congestion in Perth could cost the WA economy $2.1 billion.

    In 2005, it had reported that figure as $900 million.

    Mr Murphy said managing congestion involved policy decisions across many agencies, including land-use planning, public transport options and changing people’s transport habits.

    “Main Roads and other key transport agencies, including the Department of Transport, had not determined clear congestion targets, outcomes or performance levels,” he said.

    “While part of the solution requires Main Roads to manage the road network to minimise the effects of congestion, it also needs to provide information to other policy makers.”

    Main Roads manages 850 kilometres of the road network in the metropolitan area, while its traffic congestion information is limited to just 78.5km of freeways.

    “Without comprehensive, consistent and real time information, major strategic and operational transport decisions cannot be made effectively,” Mr Murphy said.

    He said Main Roads was undergoing significant organisational change, which would affect how it managed congestion.

    “Main Roads is moving from an agency that builds roads and manages assets to a road network manager responsible for traffic flow,” he said.

    Mr Murphy said that, when completed, this should lead to better management of congestion and improve the information provided by Main Roads to other policy makers.

    “The changes will not be easy to bed down, but they are necessary in optimising the performance of the road network and in addressing Perth’s traffic congestion,” he said.

    Opposition transport spokesman Ken Travers said the Auditor General had confirmed the government had no plan to deal with Perth’s congestion crisis.

    “It’s clear it has been too focused on pet projects that have local impacts, but not necessarily the best impacts for the broader community,” he said.

    “To put it bluntly, the Barnett Government is choosing projects that have the biggest political impact, not those that will provide an effective and efficient transport network across WA.

    “The Auditor General has confirmed what WA Labor has been saying for years – without an integrated and coordinated plan for transport in WA, congestion will continue to get worse.”

    The report is available at www.audit.wa.gov.au.  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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