Saturday, March 20, 2010

etc speaks peak oil, ringwood station & route 900

Last week saw the Eastern Transport Coalition meet at the City of Whitehorse. A full agenda, the meeting kicked off with a presentation about peak oil by Phil Hart from the Australian Association for the study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO).

Phil talked about oil exploration, use and demand, with current data indicating that we have be using more oil than what has been discovered since 1980. Currently we use five times more oil than what is being discovered with no new large oil fields being discovered at all.

Phil also talked about alternative sources of oil, including tar sands. Extracting oil from the sands is very energy and resource intensive. To make 1 barrel of oil from tar sands takes 4 tonnes of earth, requires 2 to 5 barrels of water to clean it and uses enough gas to heat one home for 1 to 5 days. This is not the answer to secure oil supply across the world.

The International Energy Association has reflected oil demand is lower across OECD countries whilst demands are increasing significantly in China and India. It will be interesting to see how the state and federal governments will respond to the issue of peak oil and the ETC will be pursuing this with them.

Peak oil is another reason to support more sustainable forms of transport across our state. When we look to the future those communities who continue to be heavily reliant on motor vehicle transport will be severely disadvantaged by higher fuel costs. Good quality, frequent and fast public transport plays a key role in addressing peak oil and is one of the long term solutions to these issues.

Also up for discussion was the recent
pt4me2 survey which saw Ringwood railway station nominated the second worse station in Melbourne. This nomination comes as no surprise to ETC members, the station has long been a struggle for those with mobility issues. The disappointing thing is that significant money has been allocated to the bus interchange at Ringwood station but not one cent has been put towards making Ringwood station DDA compliant.

If we want to increase the take up of public transport as a legitimate way to travel around our city it must be accessible, that means both vehicles and transport infrastructure. Ringwood Station has a long way to go, it is an enormously busy station, an upgrade to make it fully accessible is long overdue.

Lastly one of our erudite members of the ETC reported back on his travel experiences on board smartbus route 900. Our councillor commuter notes on a daily basis (M to F) that around 200 people try to squeeze on to a 58 seater bus in an effort to get out to Monash University from Huntingdale Station. Smart buses have been a great addition to Melbourne’s public transport, but if they’re already over capacity then a longer term solution is needed.

Premier Brumby’s announcement a few weeks ago that a Rowville Rail is not up for consideration fails to acknowledge the demand for heavy rail to Monash Uni and beyond to Rowville. In the mean time, Uni commuters are forced to jostle to find a place on the smartbus, workers from the outer east continue to clog Melbourne’s roads costing the state a fortune in congestion and lost productivity. A rail to Rowville is long overdue, is the best solution to carry large volumes of commuters and was an election promise by this current Labor government in 1999.

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