Balance ResearchBalance Research, a voluntary organisation, is based in Melbourne, Australia. We study and write on policy issues relating to Transport and Telecommunications.
Our Director is Michael Isaachsen, who has many years' experience in researching and debating transport issues, and who worked for nearly 30 years with Australia's telephone company (now Telstra).
My name is Michael Isaachsen. I was born in Adelaide (capital city of South Australia) and grew up there. Like many Australians of that time, my ancestors were from Europe. My great-great-grandfather came from Norway and the "rest of me" is English and German. I attended Adelaide University for some years and studied Engineering but I was interested in too many "issues" and failed to complete my course. I worked for the South Australian Railways for a year or so then for the telecommunications authority (at the time known as the Post-Master-General's Department). While there I did part time study in Economics and French but again did not finish it. In 1965 the Highways Department commissioned a consultant to report on the future of railways and freeways for Adelaide. I was very interested in this and I took time off to work with them as a volunteer and see their methods. In 1967 I transferred to Melbourne, but maintained my interest in the Adelaide study. When its report was published I obtained a copy and was surprised to see so much data supporting the construction of a freeway network and proposing reductions in rail transport. I quickly returned to Adelaide to seek clarification of the formulae used. The answers did not satisfy me, so I asked for printouts of the survey summary data. Instead, they gave me a roll of computer tape to take back to Melbourne. This was my introduction to computing. By courtesy of Monash University I was allowed some computing time and learned Fortran programming. As a result, I made my first submission, to the Minister for Transport for South Australia. I don't know what notice was taken of my criticism, or my sugggestion of a free downtown bus circuit, but I was pleased to see the freeway plan shelved and a free bus circuit introduced. I have since made a number of submissions to the Government of Victoria and the Commonwealth Government. I don't think that my work has been influential, but it may in time help me to put these critical issues on the public agenda. The critical issue is that the total transport task will continue to grow, and if present policies continue, rail will perhaps retain its percentage share. So we will one day have four times the rail traffic and four times the road traffic, too. That's not good enough. Four times the present-day road traffic is unsustainable. Per additional tonne-Km or person-Km, rail uses less land and less energy and causes less harm than road. This unsustainable behaviour in the market occurs because, despite the higher resource usage, infrastructure charges are less, per unit of task, for road transport than for rail. This is politically popular but it makes road use falsely attractive.Giving more subsidy to the mode which uses more resources?
Society, through its governments, must find ways of making rail as attractive as road, so that it will absorb the growth and allow the road network to mature at around its present traffic level. Do me a favour - put this critical issue on YOUR agenda! - Michael P.S.: you may have seen that I have done some work on the Telephone Numbering Scheme. In 1994, the authorities commenced planning for the renumbering of all telephones in Australia, to increase the quantity of numbers available. I became concerned when I realised that their scheme provided no path for growth in demand without a substantial mixing up of the prefixes for each area. So I branched out into a telephone numbering debate. A few notes about this are on this site. There's a lot more detail not yet loaded. MELBOURNE MUSEUM OF PRINTING Since an early age, I have had a fascination with printing and typography. Over the years I collected many machines and also became Australia's last typefounder and I am now one of very few typefounders in the world. I still make the individual metal letters used by printers since 1455. In 1992 I converted my collection into a museum and offered classes in the history of printing, mainly for secondary students doing graphic design or typography. Many youngsters are amazed to find that you can print without a computer! Unfortunately the Museum is closed for now, in storage, and with an uncertain future. We are waiting for a sponsor. I still make type, though. Would you like to visit the website of Melbourne Museum of Printing?
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A PAGE OF TRANSPORT PHILOSOPHY IN POINT FORM
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