Bus lanes imbroglio

THE Perth Transport Authority has failed to consult locals about bus lanes planned for Beaufort Street.

Vincent city councillor Josh Topelberg notes that around the world some cities are removing dedicated bus lanes: Sydney has recently pulled them out of Oxford Street.

“Some people will say the bus lanes have killed retail on Oxford Street, some people will tell you Westfield has killed retail on Oxford Street,” he says.

“I hope we’re not going to be sitting here in two to three years time talking about who’s going to remove these things.”

Cr John Carey says he’s disappointed with the PTA’s “arrogant” approach to the project.

PTA media wrangler Greg Murison says the organisation plans to talk to businesses and residents once technical details are nailed down, but Cr Carey says locals should have been brought in from the start.

He says, “there are significant concerns about this proposal from local businesses”  worried it’ll kill trade. Chief amongst concerns are congestion and speeding buses whipping past alfresco dining areas, ruining quiet meals.

The lanes will be peak-hour only, but Cr Carey says many motorists won’t ever drive in them, assuming the different-coloured bitumen means they’re preserved at all times.

The Beaufort Street Network chair says he is “really disappointed that they have not engaged with the Beaufort Street businesses” especially after he’d raised worries at the last meeting with the PTA, where the authority fronted with a “shambolic” presentation.

Mr Murison says the bus lanes are needed to handle passenger growth. Currently 9500 passengers ride on 308 buses along the route and that’s pegged to grow eight per cent a year.

Mayor Alannah MacTiernan told councillors to be practical. She says there are dedicated bus lanes either side of Vincent’s stretch and the government won’t make an exception. “I think for us to say we’re not going to allow it is just not a practical or feasible decision.”

by DAVID BELL

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