A Kingborough association has voiced concerns about the Hobart City Deal funding allocation, contending that the planned spending does not offer the promised solution of relieving congestion.
The Hobart City Deal states that government will invest in the better utilisation of transport infrastructure to address congestion affecting the Kingborough municipal area.
The Department of State Growth (DSG) engaged WSP Consultants to draft a report on how this could be achieved and, although the report has not been made public, its recommendations were discussed at the May 25 and June 13, Kingborough Council meetings.
The recommendations were considered against two key performance indicators: reducing the number of single-occupant vehicles and increasing the number of people using public transport on their regular work commute.
On May 25, councillors voted to approve the recommendations which included a park and ride facility at Huntingfield with 183 parking spaces, a second facility at Firthside with 50 spaces, upgrades to existing bus stops throughout Kingborough, expansion of bus services and upgrades to the Kingston CBD to integrate a major bus interchange and revitalise the area.
Complementary initiatives were also discussed at the meeting including a Kingborough Bike Plan, the extension of Spring Farm Road as well as walking and cycling trails.
Care Corrigan, a member of the Better Public Transport for Kingborough Association (BPTKA) said she presented an alternative solution to Kingborough Council and the DSG for a larger European style park and ride facility at the Kingborough Sports Centre (KSC) which was rejected in favour of what she believes are less efficient options.
“It is a travesty that possible solutions to a huge problem were in reach but rejected,” said Ms Corrigan on behalf of BPTKA.
“A solution was presented to council on how to use the funds, but instead, the governing group of the Hobart City Deal decided instead to use $7 million of the $20 million for a project that actually has nothing to do with solving the Southern Outlet congestion issues, and has spent the remaining $13 million on various smaller transport-related projects that collectively don't do much to help.
“I believe it is worth highlighting this mismanagement as the community had their hopes up and promises were broken.”
Mayor of Kingborough, Cr Dean Winter questioned the authenticity of BPTKA and said options for KSC park and ride facilities were considered, but ultimately not recommended by the expert consultants who were brought in to consider the best park and ride locations.
“I have looked up BPTKA and can’t find any evidence of its existing except within Ms Corrigan’s comments to the Kingborough Chronicle,” Mayor Winter said.
“We did not receive any correspondence from any community member proposing a park and ride at the sports centre other than Ms Corrigan.
“Ms Corrigan asked council to expand the KSC carpark into a very large park and ride so that she could run a commercial business on it, for profit.
“Council needed to consider the needs of the Kingston High School and Kingborough Sports Precinct and put forward a smaller proposal to develop a park and ride at the sports centre.
“That was not supported as a priority by the expert study and we accepted that.
“The good news is that it has led to us instead focussing on revitalising central Kingston.
“We want to make Kingston the regional hub south of Hobart.
“A place people want to come to work, do business and socialise,” said Mayor Winter.
BPTKA said the use of the funds on the Kingston CBD is wasteful, falling short of the congestion busting promise of the Hobart City Deal
“A very rare opportunity came along in the form of The Hobart City Deal to actually address the pressure on the Southern Outlet,” Ms Corrigan said.
“It is unlikely this amount of funding towards solving the traffic issues will be seen anytime soon.”
Ms Corrigan’s solution involved a large park and ride facility at the Kingborough Sports Centre, including a greatly extended upper car park, public toilets and a café on site.
The proposal would have required a significant investment on behalf of the State Government and Kingborough Council through diverting the majority of Kingborough’s Hobart City Deal funding into building infrastructure at the site.
Skuttle Co, a shuttle bus service, would then operate at peak times, running between Kingborough and Hobart every 10 minutes between 6am and 10am in the morning and between 3pm and 7pm in the afternoon.
Skuttle Co’s plan also outlined potential benefits to Kingborough Council, including receiving 10 cents of each fare and revenue from the business renting council buildings.
The plan referred to the (italics) City Of Hobart Transport Strategy 2018-30 Consultation Paper 2: Private Transport from 2017 which indicated there are over 6500 journeys to work from Kingborough to inner Hobart on any workday and only five per cent of those are on public transport, meaning that the service, if well utilised, could have a significant impact on the existing road traffic.
“The park and ride facility, in conjunction with the shuttle bus company, would allow an additional 1000 commuters to take a very appealing, fast and frequent shuttle bus to Hobart and back, increasing the public transport usage to 20 per cent from the current level of five per cent,” said Ms Corrigan.
“Sadly, because an expert had been awarded $1.9 million to provide their recommendations, the community-led proposal was ignored.”
Ms Corrigan said that although her proposal would have used $18 million of the $20 million allocated through the Hobart City Deal, she believes it would have created a substantial improvement for the community and lived up to the congestion targeting promises made by the government.
“Instead, the governing group has given Kingborough Council a golden ticket to rebuild their CBD,” said Ms Corrigan.
“The community hopes were raised by the promises of the Greater Hobart Transport Vision and there were viable solutions presented.
“To have that come crashing down and to accept that two very small park and ride facilities will instead be built is extremely disappointing.”
Mayor Winter disagreed, saying that revitalising the Kingston CBD was a key part of reducing congestion in the long term by increasing the appeal of staying in Kingborough and not travelling into Hobart.
“We will have Tasmania’s best playground, a rebuilt Channel Highway at Kingston that includes outdoor dining, better bus infrastructure and significant landscaping,” Mayor Winter stated.
“We’ll also have better pedestrian links to and from Kingston Park.”
At their meeting on Monday, July 13, councillors unanimously endorsed the recommendation to allocate $7 million from the City Deal funding to redevelop central Kingston, with the aim of reducing travel into Hobart by making Kingston a more attractive place to work, do business and socialise.
DSG stated that they appreciate the high level of community interest in the project and that the consultancy was undertaken looking a broader framework than just park and ride in Kingborough.
“This work relates to a number of traffic and congestion busting projects including the Hobart transit centre, southern access improvements and enhancing bus networks, not only the park and ride facilities,” said the spokesperson for DSG.
“We are investing in options for two park and ride facilities located at Huntingfield and Firthside, with concept designs expected to be released for public comment in the coming months.
“Final decisions will consider community feedback and be based on expert advice.”
Pictured above: An artist impression of the revitalised Kingston CBD from the Kingston Place Strategy. (PS)