BRT key to 'moving people strategy: Grenda

By: Jason Whittaker

The Federal Government must lead the States in developing a national "moving people" strategy by embracing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

The Federal Government must lead the States in developing a national "moving people" strategy by embracing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) infrastructure and investment, delegates at the Australian Bus + Coach Show heard last week.

Grenda Corporation Managing Director and Bus Industry Confederation Chairman, Scott Grenda, used his address in Sydney to urge the Federal Government to make Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) a public policy priority.

He says the Federal Government has a strategic decision-making role in assisting the States in "getting it right".

"The disparity in growth between Brisbane and Sydney is directly because of a decision made by one State to invest in BRT infrastructure to deliver fast, reliable and efficient services which effectively remove people from traffic," Grenda says.

"BRT can move as many, if not more, passengers per hour as heavy or light rail at a fraction of the cost – capital and operating costs – with better environmental outcomes.

"We see governments focussing on mode. The debate in central Sydney is always focussed on light rail.

"The government shouldn’t be talking about mode; the government should be talking about mobility, about moving people, how it wants to move people."

Grenda cites the success of the busways in Adelaide and Brisbane as proof of BRT’s capabilities.

When the north-east busway in Adelaide was built it attracted a ridership growth of 24 percent, half of which were new users. The south-east busway in Brisbane moves 26 million people a year and has attracted a ridership growth of 56 percent, of which one quarter previously drove motor vehicles.

"It can be done," Grenda says. "If you do it right, you get people out of their cars and on to public transport.

"We need to measure our roads by how many people they can carry, not how many vehicles they can carry – and that’s really what Brisbane did ten years ago," Grenda says.

"That whole change of philosophy in government led to their investment in busways, which is ongoing today."

Grenda says investment in public transport presents governments with very real cost savings potential - considering that for every 1 million passenger kilometres travelled on public transport in place of cars, 40,000 litres of fuel is saved.

"These numbers are large and significant," Grenda continues. "What we now are saying is public transport is not a cost, it’s a saving. If you invest in public transport, Mr Government, you will save yourself money."

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