NSW expert rejects roads


Sydney PT scholar says governments need to end fixation on roads and embrace the future

NSW expert rejects roads
University of Sydney Business School’s Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) adjunct professor John Stanley says private motor vehicle use can be capped at current levels

Urban transport scholars are urging governments to ease up on roads in favour of better residential design and public transport solutions.

The aim of this radical policy shift is to limit the growth in private motor vehicle use in Australian cities and encourage increased public transport use.

University of Sydney Business School’s Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) adjunct professor John Stanley says private motor vehicle use can be capped at current levels if governments focus on building more compact cities and improve public transport.

Stanley agrees with the Victorian Government’s decision to abandon Melbourne’s East-West Link and says that New South Wales should re-think its major road commitments, such as the Westconnex project.

"We should be building cities that are sustainable, liveable and inclusive and then designing transport systems to help deliver those cities, rather than trying to deal with traffic congestion in isolation," he says.

Stanley’s report "Aiming for zero growth in vehicle kilometres of car travel" calls for overall urban densities in Australia’s cities to be increased by 50 to 100 per cent over the next 30 to 40 years.

It seems new residential developments on the fringes of Australia’s major cities is putting too much pressure on existing road and public transport infrastructure.

He also proposes minimum dwelling densities in new housing developments, so there are enough people living in the area for shops and public transport services to emerge quickly.

The Canadian city of Vancouver is a prime example of how such a utopia can be realised.

"Metro Vancouver’s long term transport strategy has adopted a target of zero growth in vehicle kilometres of car travel to 2046," Stanley says.

It plans to achieve this by increasing the mode share for walking, cycling and public transport trips from the current 27 per cent to 50 per cent and reducing average trip lengths by 30 per cent.

Stanley believes that the adoption of similar policies here could cap VKT at 2015 levels.

"A change in the government’s approach would send a powerful signal to property developers and other businesses and I believe that the level of motor vehicle use in 2050 could be much the same as it is today, which undermines the case for many major new road projects," Stanley says.

The paper proposes a "road pricing regime" as a means of limiting the number of private vehicles on the road in the long term.

This would include motorists having to pay a fee additional to the current cost of registration, to cover more than just basic road maintenance, such as road congestion costs, noise, accidents, energy insecurity, air pollution and carbon emissions.

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