As congestion on the nation’s roads increases, more and more people are shifting to public transport. State and Territory Governments and to an extent the Federal Government have recognised the importance of heavy rail, light rail and dedicated bus corridors to improving mobility in our cities and regional communities.
From the perspective of the visitor economy more and more of our international visitors are placing a premium on traveling to destinations that have integrated and efficient transport networks. For all the angst and hand-wringing, Australian cities, on the whole, are well serviced by their public transport networks, but there is always scope to expand and improve services, especially for growing capital cities which are frequently the key draw cards for international visitors.
Our most recent Transport Barometer undertaken by our partner L.E.K Consulting shows that Sydney’s heavy rail network has continued to lead the nation in patronage growth, with a 2.5 per cent increase each year on its network since 2012. Patronage on Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide heavy rail networks have also experienced significant growth in the same period.
Governments now recognise the importance of major rail infrastructure projects in providing sustainable and resilient public transport networks. Major rail infrastructure projects including the Sydney Metro North West, CBD and South West projects, Metro Tunnel in Melbourne, the Perth Airport Link and the proposed Cross River Rail in Brisbane will cater for long-term population growth and meet the transport challenges of the future.
Light-rail projects across Australia are also transforming our cities and revitalising urban environments. New projects in Sydney and Canberra and Newcastle, as well as extensions on the Gold Coast and in Adelaide will accelerate mode shift and get more people out of their cars and onto public transport
The Transport Barometer also highlights improvements in bus performance and punctuality, particularly in Sydney (with a 3.1 per cent improvement since 2012). The improvement in punctuality and customer satisfaction on the Sydney bus network is further evidence that bus franchising works and should be rolled out across the country as proposed in our On the Buses report.
Investment in major infrastructure projects is crucial, however governments must also invest in smart transport technologies to extract greater network efficiencies and to improve the customer experience.
Digital disruption will have significant and long-lasting implications for all forms of transport. Governments must work in partnership with the private sector to harness emerging technologies to make the most of new opportunities to reshape the mobility needs of the future.
The Transport Barometer analyses the top 10 technology shifts that will rapidly transform public and private transport, including contactless transactions, open data and intelligent vehicles will be transforming the way our public transport networks operate sooner than we think.
With the right mix of investment in major infrastructure projects and emerging smart technologies, we can develop a world-class public transport system that meets the mobility challenges of the future.