Thursday, September 02, 2010

Unroadworthy Decisions

The Clem 7 tunnel, trumpeted by the Brisbane Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman, is a lemon.  It was supposed to have a $4.28 toll for cars but is now running at $2 - less than 50% - in an attempt to get people to use it.  It was forecast that in April, a month after it opened, there'd be about 60,000 trips per day and around 90,000 trips per day after 6 months.  Instead, in July there were around 28,000 trips and now, over 5 months after its opening, there are still around this number - there's been little, if any, growth in usage.

After the tunnel has been open only 5 months, RiverCity Motorway has had to take an asset write-down of $1.544b on a total of $2b - that's a *MASSIVE* hit for any company - a reduction in company value of over 77%.  However, Maunsell Aecom, the traffic forecasting company who made $2.5m for its "forecasting" of traffic flow figures, has managed to restrict its liability to $500,000 in case it gets sued.  All this whilst the shareholders have had their initial $1 stocks reduced to $0.019.

Now, the Qld Police Service installing multiple speed cameras ("For Road Safety") in the tunnels will surely be a large part of the reason that it has a much lower than expected usage.  Personally, I want to change these signs to read "For Anna Bligh's Superannuation" which is a much more appropriate (and correct) description of why they are there.  Queensland is fast becoming a Police State thanks to Cap'n Bligh's selling off of pretty much all our assets, followed by the rapid expansion of speed cameras, red light cameras, speed averaging cameras and the introduction of laws that would have been appropriate in the 1600s (take the Anti-Swearing law as a good example of this).

Another reason for the low usage of the Clem 7 tunnel is that isn't well located - well, its exits aren't.  On the South side, it exits onto the M3/F3/SouthEast Freeway/Whatever It's Called This Week in one of the heaviest traffic flow sections in peak hour, creating further traffic issues.  Another Southside exit is right into a set of traffic lights on Ipswich Road where they have also closed off O'Keefe Street during the construction of an extension to the Busway.  Even once O'Keefe Street is re-opened, that won't alleviate much of the traffic issue here.  I've never used the Wynnum/Shafston Ave exit, so I have no personal experience of that exit (yet).

On the Northside, the main exit is right into a set of traffic lights on Lutwyche Road just north of RBWH - one of the heaviest trafficked sections of road on the north side of Brisbane.  The other Northside exit is onto the ICB, another heavily trafficked road.  So, you use the tunnel, only to hit lights (or at least heay traffic) as soon as you come out - after waiting in a queue for a change of lights to let you "flow" out of the tunnel at either end.

Had no-one thought of also widening the southbound freeway instead of just dumping the traffic from the tunnel onto it?  Had no-one thought of flyovers at the exit on Lutwyche Road to allow tunnel traffic to enter the Northbound traffic flow without holding everything up at those lights?

And when I drive past the tunnel entrance on the SouthEast Freeway heading north and again past the tunnel exit on the ICB heading towards Kingsford Smith drive, it takes me 8 minutes to make that trip, versus 4 minutes in the tunnel.  Admittedly, this isn't during peak hour.  So why would I use the tunnel when it isn't peak hour at all?  There's simply not enough time saving to make it worthwhile.

Now, another issue with Brisbane roads is the new Gateway toll - it rose from $2.95 for cars to $3.85 in July - that's a 90c increase (or just over a 30% increase in price).  I used to use the Gateway Bridge each week to get to the ABC TV OBs shed for QRL games, therefore contributing $5.90 to the Gateway loan repayments each week (at least).  After the toll increase, I now use the SouthEasy Freeway, ICB and Kingsford Smith Road, adding a total of about 5 minutes to my trip and saving me $7.70/week.  Time well spent, methinks.

So, Cap'n Bligh is selling off most of Queensland's assets and replacing them with Speed Cameras to generate replacement revenue.  We're getting private roads (Clem 7, the badly named Go Between Bridge - especially since it is so seriously underutilized, even more so than the Clem 7 tunnel and the highest road toll per metre in Australia) and a Gateway toll increase.

And somehow the "Queensland - The Smart State" slogan has slipped from common usage.  No wonder!

The Outspoken Wookie

1 comment:

Madeleine Kingston said...

What a disaster. Time for a new President of the Labour Party and for a new Premier for Qld with cessation of asset sales to bolster coffers top of the list of issues to address.

The reckless sales of assets to replenish Treasury coffers have for years resulted in detriment in many arenas.

See for example the sale of energy assets at the time that the Energy Assets (Restructuring and Disposal) Bill 2006 was rushed through the Queensland Parliament on 11 and 13 October. Hansard records the objections of MPs including Mrs. Cunning, Mr. Knuth and Dr. Flegg.

The almost manic push to adopt a 'dig-up, sell and walk away" strategy for essential services must be challenged vigorously and consistency till something is done to change these policy stances

The sell off of government owned monopoly assets and the outcomes must be questioned again and again. See Queensland Auditor-General’s Report of 2007.

It is time for the blame game to stop and action to be taken since this matter is both a state and Federal issue.

I for one object to Anna Bligh being President of the Labour Party and a member of the Council of Australian Governments. As to advice from supporting staff regarding asset sale approaches - it is time for serious review and re-revamp.

The ripple effects of poor governance and leadership can be felt in other states and I am concerned about the credibility of the Labour party if no timely intervention is contemplated.
There are no further legal impediments to Federal intervention, so bring it on.

Concerned Australian voter