Mike Stevens | Mar 25, 2010

CHANGES TO CLEARWAY times in Melbourne's inner suburbs are a good move despite protests from business owners, according to the Road Users Collaborative (RUC).

The RUC, comprising RACV, Yarra Trams, the Victorian Transport Association and other groups, has described the new extended clearway times as the "right move" to tackle congestion on Melbourne's roads.

Brian Negus, RUC Secretary and RACV's General Manager for Public Policy said it was critical that the Victorian Government stand its ground on the new clearway times.

“This initiative will dramatically improve traffic flow in the highly congested 10km zone extending out from Melbourne’s CBD and all road users will benefit from better traffic flow and increase road safety,” Mr Negus said.

“The government must continue with its program to make trams a priority at traffic signals and reduce those pockets of congestion that frustrate motorists and increase risky behaviour on our roads.”

The changes have seen clearway times increased by up to two hours on weekdays, banning roadside parking in some areas from 3pm to 7pm.

In the mornings, the clearways cover 6:30am to 10am - 60 minutes past usual business hours.

In the days immediately following the introduction of the new clearway times, over 60 vehicles were towed from main roads across inner Melbourne, resulting in more than $25,000 in fines and towing fees.

Yarra Trams Chief Executive Officer, Michel Masson, said Melbourne has the biggest tram network in the world but it was also one of the slowest because of parked cars forcing traffic onto tram lines.

“On Sydney Road, between 9am and 10am when clearways have been extended, city bound trams have recorded an average 8% reduction in journey times," Mr Masson said.

“In the evening peak, trams in the extended clearway period are recording better average times than the off-peak hours when kerbside parking is permitted,” he said.

Unhappy with the affect on parking along popular retail strips, Stonnington and Yarra councils have moved to fight the extended clearway times in court. Stonnington council has said that its traders will lose $6 million per year because of the reduced parking.

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