Australia

Study calls for major changes to the way transport projects are planned

A REPORT released last week by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) and Booz & Company has called for sweeping changes to the way transport projects are conceived, planned and operated across Australia.

"This report calls for a fundamental overhaul of transport planning, ensuring Australia's governments are harnessing world's best practice to transparently select the best projects, in the right places, for the right reasons to meet the customer's needs," said IPA Chief Executive, Brendan Lyon.

Mr Lyon said the report studied global best practice to identify the common approaches that have allowed places like London, Singapore and Hong Kong to get their transport networks right.

"Our report starts from first principles, by looking at the actual cost of a journey for a commuter, including fare price, travel time, vehicle operating costs and the other value factors that drive commuter decisions," Mr Lyon said.

"We've used this customer-focussed approach to look at two major transport corridors, from the CBD to Penrith in New South Wales, and Pakenham to the CBD in Victoria.

"Our modelling finds that while no single mode is a silver bullet, more informed decisions are needed about the types of transport projects that should be developed."

According to Mr Lyon, the report found that heavy rail and private vehicles present the lowest user cost for journeys longer than 10 kilometres, while light rail, buses and active transport all have a role to play in shorter journeys.

To solve Australia's congestion challenge, Mr Lyon said the broader transport system needs to provide the type of service customers want and create incentives to support rational decisions.

"Reform of transport pricing, such as through congestion charging, is a clear avenue for reform and would also offer the opportunity to fund the expansion and quality of the broader transport network, road and rail," Mr Lyon said.

"In concert with pricing reform, there needs to be a much deeper integration across the transport system and various modes that might comprise a common journey.

"Integration is fundamental, because we can't build a rail line from everyone's front door to their workplace – we need to be shrewder about making cars, buses, trains and ferries work together," Mr Lyon said.

Mr Lyon said integration, quality and reliability are the reasons why Hong Kong, Singapore and London lead the world in transport.

"These jurisdictions elevate planning above line agencies, such as road or rail authorities, with the likes of Transport for London and Hong Kong's Transport Department showing the deep level of integration that is required to achieve better planning for all modes to work together as a single system," he said.

More information is available from the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia website at <http://www.infrastructure.org.au/>.

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