As it is just a discussion paper, details are not yet outlined and the council cannot legislate the changes anyway as they are state and federal matters.
However, it does open up a valid discussion to alleviate traffic problems in one of our major congested cities.
Monash University Department of Civil Engineering Professor Graham Currie says it is too early to discuss specifics such as exemptions for motorcycles and scooters.
“In practice (as usual) they haven’t thought about powered two wheelers yet,” he says.
Melbourne’s discussion paper is not totally original as the following cities have similar systems not only to reduce traffic congestion but also air pollution:
Singapore has road-user charges in a CBD zone resulting in a 20% reduction in delays and plans to ban pre-2003 motorcycles throughout the city in 10 years;
Milan’s Ecopass charges all vehicles entering a designated traffic restricted zone and bans old cars and bikes that do not meet set emissions standards;
A cordon charge in Stockholm has led to 24% fewer commuter trips by car (motorcycles and scooters are exempt), with most people switching to public transport and Gothenburg following the same example;
China and Brazil are considering congestion charges in various cities;
Oregon, USA, has trialled a voluntary pay-per-mile distance charge resulting in a 22% drop in traffic in peak hours and a 91% approval by participants; and
London’s Low Emissions Zone charge has helped stabilise traffic congestion over the past decade despite population growth of 1.3 million. Motorcycles, scooters and electric vehicles are exempt, but from April 2019 the new London Ultra Low Emissions Zone will charge £12.50 a day for motorcycles and scooters that do not meet Euro 3 emissions standards.
Riders should be concerned because these taxes and bans are likely to become more widespread in other congested cities in future.
Last year, the Grattan Institute suggested congestion charges in Sydney and Melbourne during peak hours and last month the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics recommended congestion charges in major cities saying congestion costs Australia upwards of $16 billion each year.
But rather than also charging and banning motorcycles and scooters, they should be seen as a solution to the problems of congestion and emissions and be exempt.