Roads and Ports Minister, Tim Pallas said the clearway changes would improve the journeys for up to 300,000 tram and bus passengers and up to 250,000 private vehicle users travelling in Melbourne’s inner suburbs each day.
“Jobs and the population are growing faster than predicted and leading to an increase in vehicles on our roads,” Mr Pallas said.
“Commuters are experiencing longer travel times to and from work and this plan is about short term relief, while medium and longer term solutions like major road upgrades and the purchase of new trains and trams, get underway.
“The Keeping Melbourne Moving plan will standardise more than 160 clearways within 10 kilometres of the Melbourne CBD from 6.30am to 10am in the AM peak and from 3pm to 7pm in the PM peak. Clearways will also be more strictly enforced.”
AM peak clearways changes will roll out progressively from today until the end of the year, with PM peaks to follow at the start of 2009.
The first four AM sites to change today are:
• Punt Road – west side between Yarra River and Wellington Parade
• Hoddle Street – west side between Victoria Parade and Queens Parade
• St Kilda Street – west side between Head Street and Bay Street
• Ormond Esplanade – both sides between St Kilda Street and Glenhuntly Road
Mr Pallas said that standardised clearways would improve public transport travel times and reliability.
“More than 80 per cent of public transport trip kilometres are on roads and clearways would provide an additional lane for trams and buses to get passengers to their destinations easier,” Mr Pallas said.
“The standardisation of clearway times ensures that the entire road network runs smoothly, rather than having pockets where congestion negates the benefits of clearways elsewhere.”
A Clearways Implementation Reference Group was established to provide input on issues to be considered in the roll-out of clearway changes. This group includes representatives of small business, transport and local government peak bodies.
Mr Pallas said the Government recognises the need to balance the interests of small businesses, shoppers and commuters and is working with communities to ensure issues such as parking arrangements and safety are addressed.