Alliance calls for rebalancing of transport spending

By: Graham Gardiner

The Rapid, Active and Affordable Transport Alliance (RAATA) has called for two-thirds of the nation’s transport spending to be allocated

The Rapid, Active and Affordable Transport Alliance (RAATA) has called for two-thirds of the nation’s transport spending to be allocated to public transport.

The Alliance – led by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and including other environmental groups, unions, public health organisations, the City of Sydney, the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) and the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) – says the rebalancing of transport investment away from roads is "not an ambitious target".

"Given the urgency and size of the task, it will take this level of change to move Australia towards a more sustainable future," it argues in a new report titled Investing in Sustainable Transport: Our clean, green transport future.

Specifically, within the next three years the Alliance calls for:
  • Increased investment in dedicated bus lanes on multi-lane roads and bus rapid transit systems
  • Introduction of low-cost measures to increase patronage on existing public transport including improving and extending existing network capacity
  • Making cycling part of the system by providing safe, dedicated cycle paths, separated on-road bicycle lanes and parking facilities at major public transport departure and arrival points
  • Integration of well-planned feeder services with the rail network – including coordinated bus and tram/light rail routes and timetables, as well as bicycle routes servicing train stations and minibus services
  • Introduction of bike hire systems in major cities to encourage sustainable, healthy transport solutions for short trips.

Long term, in the coming decade the Alliance argues for the need to start investing to achieve better cities through:
  • Extending rail systems to help make rail an option for rapidly developing parts of Australian cities that don’t have easy access to the rail network
  • Funding high-quality public transport links for high visitation venues such as sporting facilities and universities
  • Providing funding to local government to develop plans for sustainable transport and transit-oriented development and to invest in walking and cycling infrastructure
  • Creating walkable streets by ensuring urban environments are designed and consolidated to provide street networks with direct, safe and convenient pedestrian access to local destinations, including public transport.

This investment, the Alliance contends, could enable the achievement of reasonable national public and active transport targets, including:
  • To double the number of trips taken on public transport in all major cities in the next decade
  • To triple the number of cycle trips made within 10 years
  • To quadruple the number of walking trips made within a decade.

"Australia is at a critical crossroad: we face significant transport and social equity challenges due to rising levels of carbon pollution and depleting oil supplies. This urgently requires the creation of a sustainable transport system in which public and active transport - walking and cycling – become real options for all Australians," the Alliance’s report states.

"The Australian Government must prioritise a major investment in public and active transport to ensure our urban centres and suburbs are redesigned to support transit-oriented development – compact, walkable communities centred on high-quality train and other public transport systems.

"There is a strong economic, social and environmental case for national investment in sustainable transport options. Reducing the carbon pollution of the car fleet through reduced fuel consumption and smaller cars will help slow such pollution.

"However, the expected doubling in demand for private motorised transport in the next decade will result in increasing problems for which building more roads is not the panacea.

"RAATA has come together to demonstrate that it is in Australia’s national interest to create a sustainable transport system that offers Australians real choice to leave the car at home, to reduce their carbon pollution and petrol costs and to boost the liveability of their community."

To read the full report, click here.

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