Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The forgotten problem for transit in Melbourne: public opposition

Many people in inner suburbs assume that the deplorable quality of public transport in outer suburbs is due either to the power of car and oil companies or road engineers and urban planners serving to have freeways built instead of cheaper railways.

Both the unfortunately-forgotten 1980 Lonie Report (whose author, Robin Underwood, still works at Monash University today) and the 2006 Greenhouse Mafia do show beyond any doubt how car and energy corporations have highly significant influence over government policy, which has led towards the most pro-freeway policies in the world.

However, what many trendy people simply cannot accept is that pro-freeway policies of governments actually do reflect public opinion on these issues. Even before any transport projects get built, real estate industry executives state that expansion to public transport will increase house prices and the freeways near a house decrease them. Experience abroad confirms beyond doubt that first-rate public transit necessarily makes a city's housing unaffordable. The PTUA unfortunately fails to realise how much a negative expansion to public transport is for most people in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

It is often thought that people in the outer suburbs are, like those in the inner-city, interested in making their property more valuable and will support price increases. Outer suburban residents, however, are not only much more family-oriented but also much more future-oriented than people in the inner city. My experience clearly shows how most people in the inner-city have very little interest in developing productive long-term careers. I struggled with this myself for a decade before I realised even partially the futility of trying to do what I wanted all the time. People in Australia's outer suburbs, who are never highly educated or on welfare (which I have needed to receive the education I have), plan a career from a very young age and consequently grow quite rapidly in wealth under a regime of low living costs. These low living costs cultivate a culture of compassion and generosity quite unlike my experience with people on the radical left who are exceedingly unfriendly and insensitive, caring only about getting what they want for no work.

Outer-suburban parents care a great deal about handing down the same or a higher standard of living to their children, and therefore desire very strongly that their children will have equally or more affordable housing than they do. Support for freeways and hostility to public transport finds extremely solid rooting in desire that children grow up with affordable housing. For younger voters aspiring to buy a house, public trasnport expansion is even more negative as it could make them reliant upon rental housing not only for a few years, but forever.

More than that, even a potentially catastrophic drying of Melbourne's climate (like the "hockey stick graph" except with the blade going down not up) will not alter the dirt gap that encourages a highly conservative outer suburban populace and prevent expansion of public transit to cover the whole Port Phillip region that should, in purely ecological terms, have taken place in the 1960s or 1970s.

1 comment:

the Albino Bowler said...

Hey. I like what you've got going on here. I've been following your blog, and I noticed we have some interesting shared obsessions. I'm curious to see what your opinion is of the post I dropped at the Rodeo yesterday comparing American football to Aussie Rules. Hope to talk to you soon,
Matt the Albino Bowler from New Orleans