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New report suggests Queensland suburban bus services overlooked in transit investment

The report says that greater bus service funding will help prevent inequality in south-east Queensland’s public transport network

A new report has queried whether south-east Queensland suburbs are missing out on billions of dollars flowing into public transport projects through transit investments.

The new report from the McKell Institute in Queensland has found just under 99 per cent of money spent on SEQ public transport projects is going into megaprojects that cost $1 billion or more, all of which are focused on inner-city areas and the Brisbane-Gold Coast corridor.

McKell Institute Queensland executive director Sarah Mawhinney says that while the investment in bus transport is welcome, more needs to be done to ensure the benefits of public transport are spread fairly.

“The state government’s historic investment in public transport is a great thing, but it needs better balance,” Mawhinney says.

“The current transport infrastructure megaprojects will primarily benefit inner-city dwellers who already have high levels of mobility and access to resources. Meanwhile, high population growth areas outside of inner-city Brisbane are being all but ignored.

“A truly progressive approach to public transport investment demands the Queensland government invest more in public transport for the outer suburbs, where it has the potential to really improve productivity and quality of life.”

Mawhinney says that the most efficient way to boost public transport accessibility in outer suburbs is through stronger investments in bus services.

“Buses are a highly efficient way of providing public transport options to areas that currently lack mobility,” Mawhinney says.

“However, in order to provide reliable bus services, the state government will need to raise the wages and improve employment conditions of bus operators. This is practical and realistic reform that would make a real difference to everyday families.”

The report also recommends the government provide an update on a whole-of-region SEQ public transport plan that clearly articulates solutions and required inputs to ensure equitable transport capacity.

“Articulating the public transport needs of SEQ will attract greater investment from all levels of government as well as private interests,” Mawhinney says.

“Without an underlying strategy that integrates the whole region, winners and losers will inevitably arise.”

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