http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/city-bids-5m-to-ease-congestion/2006/02/02/1138836372877.html City bids $5m to ease congestion By Liz Minchin February 3, 2006 MELBOURNE City Council is preparing to spend $5 million on new ways to cut congestion, despite being months away from finalising its transport strategy. On Tuesday the council will vote on a host of proposals largely aimed at pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users, including widening footpaths, creating new bus and bicycle-only lanes, and installing 40 km/h road signs. The planned capital works would cost $3.75 million, with designs for some projects to begin immediately and construction to start as early as June, when the council is due to sign off on its transport strategy. A further $500,000 would be spent on promotion and research, while $750,000 has been set aside for a controversial free tourist shuttle bus between Southbank and Carlton, due to start on March 1. The new transport proposals include: ■Spending $1 million on new bicycle routes along major roads including St Kilda and Flemington roads and Rathdowne and Albert streets. ■$800,000 widening footpaths in Little Collins Street between Spring and Exhibition streets. ■$725,000 for electronic 40 km/h speed limit signs for the CBD. ■$500,000 for a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Manningham Street, connecting Royal Park to the Moonee Ponds Creek trail. ■$142,000 to entice businesses, residents and schools to ditch cars for "sustainable transport". ■$120,000 to probe building bicycle and bus "superstations" with storage, showers and toilets. ■$100,000 to investigate a north-south City Circle tram. The proposals come only days after The Age revealed details of the council's draft transport strategy, which explicitly favours environmentally sustainable forms of transport over cars, and was released only yesterday. The $5 million for the projects is the council's share of a contentious State Government long-stay levy on inner-city car parks, introduced this year. But the rising cost of city parking has become a drain on council coffers, with papers released yesterday showing a sudden $1.8 million plunge in expected parking meter revenue from July to December last year. Greens councillor Fraser Brindley defended the parking levy and the decision to start work on new transport infrastructure before the transport strategy was approved, saying "things like footpath widening are as much about good urban spaces as they are about transport solutions". Meanwhile, a city tourist bus operator has sought legal advice after losing a bid to operate the new council-funded shuttle bus. Melbourne on the Move owner Finlay Davis said yesterday he was shocked to lose the bid to run the shuttle bus, which will stop at popular tourist attractions along a similar route to a service he has been running for four years. "It's extraordinary. This is a government authority working to break a business," Mr Finlay said. " … if you were offered a choice between one bus service for nothing, and our one costing you $32, which would you choose?"