Where should we spend our money?
The City of Yarra has obligations to:
- maintain a functioning city by avoiding gridlock,
- help decarbonise transport by 2030,
- prevent death and serious injury by protecting the public, and
- comply with Strategic Objective 5 of the Council Plan (Transport and Movement).
However, at present, we are maintaining a ‘business as usual’ approach to budgeting, which will result in:
- severe congestion and gridlock on many streets before 2030,
- inadequate reduction in our carbon emission by 2030,
- negligible change to hazards, risks, deaths and serious injuries on our streets,
- little progress in enabling people to lead a fulfilling life without the need to own a car.
The solution to these issues is to budget an expenditure of $10 million per year for active transport and local area place making. In addition, and as acknowledged in the Council Plan, effective networks of active transport infrastructure would also deliver more customers for our traders.
Business case for active transport
Investment in infrastructure for active transport offers a positive business case, including benefits such as reduced population health costs.
Even clearer, the Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Office of Best Practice Regulation values a human life at $4.5 million in 2018 dollars. Safe travel infrastructure only needs to thwart two deaths per year for it to deliver a value of $9 million each year and thus offset the investment.
Active transport & local area place making
Infrastructure for active transport and local area place making includes:
- 30 km/h superblocks, with through traffic kept to the perimeter;
- protected footpaths, including continuing at grade when crossing minor streets;
- protected bicycle lanes on the perimeter of superblocks (nominated arterials);
- protected intersections for major street crossings;
- protected public transport stops; and
- more trees, resting places and pocket parks.
Allocate $10 million per year
Streets Alive Yarra estimates that the budget required to deliver effective networks of safe travel infrastructure is $10 million per year over 10 years. This is equivalent to spending $100 per year for each of Yarra’s approximately 100,000 residents, and is an order of magnitude higher than what we are spending now. Independent justification for a budget of $10 million per year can be collated by tasking Council Officers to cost the implementation of a Transport Strategy (and associated action plan) by 2030.
Sourcing $10m per year
The City of Yarra has a budget of over $200 million per year, and raises $30 million each year from our streets, so a budget of $10 million per year for safe & active transport is realistic. If extra revenue is required, then various options are available now. For example, if a new class of ‘User Pays Parking Permit’ was created and 3,000 units were sold for $3,400 each (the same price as in the City of Moreland) then Yarra would raise an extra $10 million per year.
The truth about a city’s aspirations isn’t found in its vision. It’s found in its budget. Yarra should acknowledge its obligations; and execute on those obligations by allocating an annual budget of $10 million for active transport and local area place making.