PT funding trumps roads

Australian residents want more of their taxes to go towards improving public transport

PT funding trumps roads
University of Sydney Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) director David Hensher is not surprised to find the public backs more funding for public transport and less emphasis on roads

Most Australian residents want all levels of government to spend more on public transport and less on roads, but only by the slimmest of margins.

People in Queensland and South Australia also have more faith in the effectiveness of bus travel over rail, compared to people in other states, a study conducted by the University of Sydney Business School shows recently.

The latest Transport Opinion Survey (TOPS), conducted by the school’s Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS), asked participants how they would like to see their government spend a hypothetical budget of a $100 billion on transport improvements.

A slim majority of 51 per cent answered public transport, while 49 per cent prefer to see the money spent on roads.

"It is clear that there remains a strong community commitment to improved public transport," ITLS director David Hensher says.

A significant 60 per cent prefer to see the development of rail over bus services and even short new rail lines, over lengthy dedicated bus lanes.

Queensland and South Australia had a relatively higher number of participants supporting dedicated bus lanes at 44 per cent.

"Residents with experience of dedicated bus systems are very much in favour whereas those lacking this experience tend to defaults to the sexier looking light rail systems," Hensher says.

"Those states with fast bus systems (South Australia and Queensland) recognise how much they can contribute."

The Transport Confidence Index fell to its lowest level since the survey commenced in 2010, with a very strong decline in confidence since 2013.

This means Australian residents are becoming less confident in the ability of all levels of government to fund public transport improvements.

The survey was conducted in September, just prior to the change in Federal Government leadership.

"Statements from the new prime minister recognising the importance of Australian cities – may make a difference to confidence levels," Hensher says.

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