INTRODUCING bus lanes along Burwood Highway could be the death of any future plans for a Knox tram, councillors say.
Debated raged at last week's council meeting after Cr Mick Van de Vreede suggested adding Burwood Highway bus lanes to the council's VicRoads priority list.
Cr Van de Vreede wants bus lanes from the end of the Vermont South tram line to Knox City shopping centre to be a priority project.
Other councillors refused, fearing it could impact on delivery of the Knox tram, a project the council has supported for 10 years. "If we turned away now and asked for a dedicated bus lane we may as well put a gun to the head of the tram," Cr David Cooper said.
He compared it to giving up on the Rowville rail project, and instead building an express bus lane or light rail tram down the middle of Wellington Road. "We're actually going to kill off one of our two major rail projects," he said. "We just can't, we've got to be strong on this."
Cr Cooper was backed by mayor Adam Gill and councillors Sue McMillan, Darren Pearce and Joe Cossari.
Cr Van de Vreede said the traffic along the corridor from Vermont to Knox City along Burwood Highway was "lousy". "I've been on that bus that connects Knox City shopping centre with Vermont. I can tell you in peak traffic, it's not a very nice thing to experience — you don't move too quickly."
Cr Gill said bus lanes should not be prioritised because residents did not support removing a lane for cars.
Councillors voted to recommend that VicRoads undertake a range of "preparatory" projects on Burwood Highway between the Vermont tram terminus and Knox City to facilitate the future inclusion of a Knox tram.
Cr Van de Vreede said the council had recently "gone stale" on the issue of the Knox tram. "We have to start pushing harder, otherwise we'll be here for another 20 years and have people not getting public transport."
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