When will the Mitchell Freeway congestion be resolved? When will the train carriages arrive? When will there be more good quality employment opportunities in Joondalup?
But this time the authorities didn’t inject the same sense of realism that Hawke had done.
Instead they replied with general soothing responses, ‘these are just temporary growing pains’, ‘all’s fine here’, ‘yes, we will do this and yes, that will happen’.
What was perfectly obvious to anybody with a realistic sense of the future of the city of Joondalup, is that it was never going to happen.
Why so cynical?
The population of Joondalup city and Wanneroo together are growing at around 10,000 people per annum.Sixty per cent of Joondalup and Wanneroo’s workforces (95,000 people) travel outside these areas for work.The awaited 28 per cent increase in train carriages on the northern line between 2012 and 2017 will be dwarfed by the 50 per cent increase in demand that this same period could see.
Extensions to the freeway further north, will only add more cars to the already congested roads, contributing to the 111 per cent extra travel time experienced if you use the Mitchell Freeway from Clarkson during morning peak hours.
One million more cars could be on WA’s roads by 2020, according to the RAC. In short it may not get any better, and, will probably get a whole lot worse.
Do the residents want to hear this? Unlikely.
And it’s tempting for politicians to collude with this. It’s convenient and it’s cheap. It’s much cheaper than building proper infrastructure, or taking hard decisions.
This lack of realism isn’t confined to Joondalup, it can be seen in every corner of Perth. Operating from a belief that Band Aid solutions can be a substitute for proper planning and infrastructure.
And that is a tragedy because the consequences to the economy are far from trivial.
A recent RAC survey, found that 40 per cent of businesses reported turning down work opportunities due to congestion and 25 per cent said they had lost work. This represents a major economic threat.If we are serious about wealth creation and economic sustainability, especially after our mineral wealth is gone, we have to stop kidding ourselves.We need to up-size train capacity, anticipating population growth. We need frequent and rapid transit buses that bring people to the trains as opposed to car parks that are expensive to build, bringing cars that cause congestion and take up valuable land, that could be used more profitably otherwise. After all, a car waiting at a prime location for ten hours isn’t doing very much wealth creation.We need planning controls that facilitate more than just a box shopping centre and commuter car parks around train stations.
We need more ambitious land use planning that facilitates the creation of economic centres and good quality employment opportunities in satellite cities like Joondalup so that the tide of transit isn’t all heading into Perth.
And we can’t expect our politicians to do it all for us. We have to see the need ourselves, and set the agenda. In short we have to grow up, and develop a maturity about who we are as a city.
When we have the wisdom, politicians will respond. And then at last they will do something more than just telling us what we want to hear.
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