Suburbia left in the transport doldrums finds report


The growing outer urban communities of the nation’s cities are being ‘left behind’ by a lack of access to public transport, a new report released by Infrastructure Australia has found.

The Outer Urban Public Transport: Improving accessibility in lower-density areas report found that access and frequency of public transport throughout outer urban communities is hamstringing growth and contributing to congestion throughout the country.

“While existing transport infrastructure serves inner city areas well, people living on the outskirts of our major cities are being disadvantaged by a lack of access to frequent public transport services. This impacts their ability to access jobs, education and other opportunities to improve their quality of life,” Infrastructure Australia’s Executive Director of Policy and Research Peter Colacino said.

“Across all five cities, a substantial number of people living in the outer suburbs do not have frequent public transport services within walking distance of their home. In Melbourne more than 1.4 million people fall into this category, with more than 1 million in Sydney and Brisbane, half a million people in Perth and 200,000 people in Adelaide.”

Recommendations include:

Recommendation 1: While progress is being made in most jurisdictions, state and territory governments should prioritise the seamless integration of transport networks for users by coordinating service planning, timetabling, fare policy, digital tools and operations.

Governments should work in partnership with transport agencies, operators and communities to:

■ maintain an efficient transport hierarchy through maximising service frequencies on trunk routes and encouraging interchange for first-and-last mile connections;

■ incorporate flexibility in planning and contracts to allow them to monitor and respond to poorly utilised services;

■ ensure the integration and coordination of services are undertaken with an understanding of customers’ needs and perspective;

■ undertake periodic holistic redesigns of public transport networks to match changing land use patterns and consumer preferences.

Recommendation 2: Australian governments should embrace new transport modes, such as on-demand services, which are well suited to low-density areas.

Governments should:

■ work in partnership with the private sector to understand potential network impacts, business models and operating requirements of new modes and technologies, such as demand-responsive services, in-market competition or automated vehicles;

■ develop coordinated whole-of-government implementation and communication strategies to support the adoption of connected and automated vehicles, including the use of pilots and trials.

Recommendation 3: State and territory governments should implement a coordinated policy approach to encourage interchanging within an integrated transport network by:

■ minimising passenger waiting times by coordinating services at interchanges, such as through timetable integration, timed transfers, high-service frequencies and active network management;

■ providing passengers with the ability to reduce their waiting times through booking connections, including using on-demand transport;

■ reviewing fare policies and structures including removing interchange fare penalties and introducing incentives;

■ prioritising the customer experience when designing transport interchanges, such as by minimising physical obstacles, providing real-time service and wayfinding information, and colocating value-adding services at interchanges.

Recommendation 4: State, territory and local governments should improve the physical integration of the public transport network with private, active and emerging transport modes by:

■ prioritising access for public transport, including dedicated drop-off and waiting areas for buses and on-demand modes near interchanges;

■ improving access for private transport to interchanges, including providing additional car parking where appropriate, drop-off facilities, as well as bike storage;

■ providing car-share, e-bike and bike-share facilities at major interchanges to support a broader range of end-journeys;

■ integrating active transport, including walking and cycling, through dedicated infrastructure, improved lighting and all-weather protection.

Recommendation 5: Australian governments should openly embrace technological innovation in transport, working with third-party operators to improve the user experience.

Governments need to:

■ adopt an outcomes-based regulatory approach;

■ improve open data distribution to facilitate third parties providing complementary services such as timetable information and integrated ticketing;

■ leverage open data and systems to support new subscription models for transport, such as Mobility-as-a-Service.

Recommendation 6: Australian governments should undertake integrated land use and transport planning to examine opportunities for employment and residential densification at key sites adjacent to public transport.

Governments should:

■ identify appropriate sites adjacent to trunk transport infrastructure to support densification;

■ develop corresponding metropolitan and local strategic plans to reflect potential for densification, including adequately assessing the capacity of existing social and economic infrastructure;

■ ensure that increases in density also reflect local character and amenity and are commensurate with improvements to local infrastructure and services;

■ establish implementation strategies and institutions with the right governance, funding and authority to ensure the planned infrastructure enhancements occur alongside densification;

■ for transport projects, explore the feasibility of value capture mechanisms.

Recommendation 7: Australian governments should support the development and growth of suburban and outer urban employment centres to improve job accessibility. In planning for new centres, governments should:

■ be clear and transparent about their role and policy objectives – milestones for growth should be clearly defined, measurable, and frequently assessed;

■ identify the appropriate sectors to target and specific roles for government and partners, including the development of specialised knowledge precincts;

■ identify the supporting infrastructure requirements, particularly transport to and within employment centres.

The full report can be found here

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