Where Next with Public Transport?

The Australian Infrastructure Plan released in February 2016 by Infrastructure Australia (IA) has some key findings and recommendations for public transport across Australia.

With the project growth in population to 30 million over the next 15 years, and 5.9 million of that growth occurring in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, there will be much greater demands on public transport services, and government budgets.

What is needed according to IA is high-frequency, interconnected public transport systems to move people efficiently and comfortably.

To do this will require changes in the delivery of passenger transport services, desirably moving towards more reliable and frequent transport connections, with integrated, timetable-free, ‘turn up and go’ train and bus services – similar to that of New York, Singapore, London and Paris.

The challenge is the considerable gap between what users pay and the cost of provision of public transport, which amounts to typically less than 25% of costs being recovered from user fares, with taxpayers contributing the difference.

This unfortunately supports a ‘low-cost, low-quality’ paradigm and means substantial taxpayer subsidies are required, which are not sustainable; and makes it difficult to respond to changes in demand and customer expectations.

IA recommends governments need to consider a broader system of transport pricing, both for road and public transport, broader options such as value capture, increased cost recovery, pursuing operating efficiencies resulting in a more appropriate alignment of the funding burden between public transport users and taxpayers.

Governments should commit to the full implementation of a heavy vehicle road charging structure in the next five years and light vehicles in ten years; routinely consider value capture opportunities in all future public infrastructure investments; and pursue public transport operating efficiencies and a more appropriate alignment of the funding burden between public transport users and taxpayers.

See a copy of the report at http://infrastructureaustralia.gov.au

Do you think that this will solve public transport meeting demand at an appropriate level of service?

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