TTF’s Osmond backs public transport

TTF CEO Margy Osmond is urging the Federal Government to lift public transport infrastructure spending

TTF’s Osmond backs public transport
TTF Chief Executive Officer Margy Osmond

Sydney-based business group Tourism and Transport Forum has called on the Federal Government to lift its public transport infrastructure spending based on economic benefits.

TTF CEO Margy Osmond says while state governments have recognised the need to invest in public transport, her organisation calls on the Federal government to reconsider its stance on funding public transport.

"It [the Federal government] has the budgetary capacity to accelerate the construction of key projects that will make a material improvement to Australia’s national productivity," Osmond says.

Prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the report ‘Better Public Transport Better Productivity: The economic return on public transport investment’ provides an economic assessment of how building public transport infrastructure has reaped financial rewards along the corridors where projects have been commissioned.

TTF Chief Executive Officer Margy Osmond says public transport is vital to Australia’s future prosperity.

"We are recasting the debate about the funding of public transport infrastructure with the release of this report," says Osmond.

 "This report shows for the first time the additional economic growth that public transport infrastructure delivers and means the debate over public transport funding is no longer ideological, it is economic."

Osmond says with Australia as one of the most urbanised countries on Earth, the five biggest cities are the engine rooms of the economy, producing around 62 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

"That makes moving people and ensuring linkages between urban employment centres and labour markets as vital today as building rail lines to transport agriculture to markets was 100 years ago," she says.

"As the proportion of people who live and work in our biggest cities continues to grow, our cities are becoming denser, bringing mobility challenges through increased congestion and capacity constraints on public transport.

"This impacts on our economy, because the vast majority of our highly urbanised population works in the services sector, in which labour is the main input."

Osmond says for the vast majority of Australian businesses, access to people with appropriate skills is one of the most important elements of their success or otherwise and public transport plays a central role in providing that access.

The report uses new ex-post analysis developed by PwC to demonstrate the additional economic benefit the Epping-Chatswood rail line delivered to businesses in Macquarie Park in Sydney’s north.

The report found since the opening of the Epping to Chatswood rail line in 2009, the Macquarie Park economy grew by an additional 1.56 to 2.44 per cent per annum, bucking the trend of lower economic growth in the wake of the GFC.

The ex-post analysis also shows that jobs growth in Macquarie Park was an extra 2.19 to 2.65 per cent per annum.

In addition, the analysis demonstrates that the improved access to labour markets provided by the rail line delivered a greater return on capital investment and higher business profitability, with productivity in Macquarie Park growing significantly faster than elsewhere in Sydney and NSW.

These findings align with other case studies in the report, such as the impact of the opening of the City Loop in Melbourne and the Docklands Light Rail in London.

Osmond says with congestion costing Australia an estimated $16 billion this year and rising, additional investment in public transport infrastructure is needed to ensure the future productivity of cities is not constrained by a lack of efficient transport options.

"When infrastructure like the Epping to Chatswood rail line can deliver faster economic growth, more jobs and better returns for business, there is a strong case for additional investment in public transport by all levels of government, including the Federal government," says Osmond.

"Yes, investment in roads is important, however investment in public transport infrastructure projects that build capacity, reduce congestion and provide businesses with better access to people with the right skills will be increasingly important as the populations of our major cities continue to grow."

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