PT needs fresh approach

Public transport networks will struggle to meet demand without change from the top down

PT needs fresh approach
Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) executive director Michael Apps hopes the Federal Government will directly fund improvements to public transport infrastructure to meet future growth

Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) has helped inform the official debate over how public transport will be able to cope with massive future population growth in Australian Cities.

BIC has submitted to independent statutory body Infrastructure Australia, regarding its 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit.

The report highlights the need for state governments and the Federal Government to adopt a better coordinated approach to improving public transport networks in Australian cities across all modes, rather than a tendency to focus on key individual projects.

Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) executive director Michael Apps agrees, saying the inevitable population boom in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth will require a Federal Government that is willing to directly fund improvements to public transport, rather than leaving the job to individual state governments.

"The Infrastructure Australia report and Victorian Government response reflects how important it is for Federal Government to invest in public transport," he says.

"The Infrastructure Australia: Our Infrastructure Challenges report and Inter-Generational report all clearly show the challenges we face in our cities and this means Federal Government cannot afford not to invest in our public transport infrastructure."

BIC recommends that the current focus of public transport funding must shift from favouring big new projects, to one that aims to improving entire public transport networks and systems.

There is a need for more funding aimed at making the middle suburbs function more efficiently, as people increasingly opt to live closer to the city, largely through necessity – as more jobs are now based in the inner suburbs than on the outer-fringes compared to a decade ago.

Private business can and should also have a greater role in the planning and provision of public transport, Apps says.

 "The private sector should be closely involved throughout the full course of this work, rather than simply being invited to bid for a few big projects at the end of a planning process undertaken by others.

"Current Federal arrangements for our cities are fragmented and under resourced, relative to the national significance of cities.

"BIC believes the definition of ‘national significance’ needs to take into account the importance of our cities and regions to the national economy and the national cost of social and environmental externalities such as congestion."

The redefinition of ‘national significance’ within Infrastructure Australia’s processes, Apps says,  would also allow smaller government-driven urban renewal projects to be included in long-term infrastructure and strategic urban plans.

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