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DRIVERLESS trains would link Melbourne airport to the city and high-growth suburbs at Doncaster and Monash as part of a radical plan to get the city moving.
Supporters of the SkyLink RapidTransit proposal to service Tullamarine say the technology could also be extended from the CBD to service “public transport desert” suburbs and complement the existing tram and train networks around Sunbury, Ringwood and Dandenong.
The push is revealed as the Herald Sun launches Future Melbourne, a week of special reports into our great city looking at how we can remain the most liveable place in the world.
We reveal how long you will spend behind the wheel commuting to work by 2030 if authorities don’t fix congestion, why road experts believe a user-pays model is best for Melbourne, why our city won’t cope with a projected 7.8 million population and how many of us will be catching trains by 2031.
Peter O’Brien, who heads up the Airshuttle Australia consortium, is behind the $1.5 billion idea for super-fast rail to the airport.
Connecting Doncaster and Monash would bring the total cost up to $5 billion.
Monash is the second-biggest employment centre outside the CBD with more than 85,000 workers and 40,000 students.
It is projected to double to 170,000 workers over the next 30 years.
The 601 service from Huntingdale station to Clayton campus is the busiest bus route in Victoria, with 37,000 people using it weekly.
A new $5 million bus interchange will be built at the station, providing facilities for buses, taxis and bikes, as well as a drop-off area.
Mr O’Brien said Monash was the main growth corridor in Victoria.
“Doncaster is the other big corridor. There are five cities out in the east without rail — and they’ve been trying to get a train line for more than 100 years,” he said. “We can do the airport link without doing Doncaster and Monash but it’s not going to be as effective.
“Most of the travel to the airport is domestic business and holidays, and the people who do that are the middle class.”
Business consultants PwC partner John Marinopoulos said the booming area around Monash University needed proper transport infrastructure.
He said PwC had investigated how the Monash precinct could be connected to the more traditional tram and light-rail network at a potential cost of less than $3 billion.
“One solution is a light rail down Dandenong Rd to Monash University and then to Burwood Highway,” Mr Marinopoulos said.
“This would connect multiple train stations and lines to the Monash precinct, and provide real alternatives to private vehicle travel.
“We need to have a conversation about these kinds of solutions, whether tram, light rail or newer technologies including how they are to be funded.”
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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