Congestion charging crucial, say public transport experts

By: Graham Gardiner


Passenger transport groups and academics have called for congestion charging to be part of the solution to the growing problem

Passenger transport groups and academics have called for congestion charging to be part of the solution to the growing problem of urban congestion in Australia’s cities.

The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) and International Public Transport Association (UITP) issued the call after the State of Australian Cities report from the Federal Government found the avoidable annual cost of congestion will double to more than $20 billion by 2020, from $10 billion in 2010, and the rate of car dependency in cities has increased faster than population growth.

Michael Apps, Executive Director of the BIC, and Peter Moore, Executive Director of the UITP, say unless immediate and decisive action is taken by all governments the nation’s cities are in danger of grinding to a halt.

"With business as usual it’s only a matter of time before Sydney becomes Australia’s Bangkok, a giant car park where moving a few kilometres can take hours," Apps says.

"Everyone is aware of Sydney’s problems with traffic, but imagine every city in Australia – Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra – in gridlock during peak times and suffering the environmental, social and economic costs of urban congestion by 2050. We need to stop this nightmare from becoming a reality," Moore adds.

The report forecasts Australia’s population will grow to 36 million by 2050 and transport-related emissions to grow by more than 20 percent between 2007 and 2020.

Professor John Stanley from the University of Sydney’s Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies says congestion charging should feature prominently as part of an overhaul of the road pricing and taxation system in Australia.

"We need a more accurate road pricing system which reflects the real costs of road travel, including congestion, health costs, air and noise pollution. This cannot be done overnight, but there is growing international experience on which we can draw. It is now time for a full investigation into how we can most effectively bring in congestion charging in our cities," he says.

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