Striking a real balance in Transport Policy

What are state politicians referring to when they talk of balanced transport policy? Is it committing to a goal of balancing how we transport ourselves to work, to school, to the shops or to meet friends and family? Or is it simply neutering a mode versus mode funding allocation when projects are announced? The cynic in me believes it's the latter but wishes it were the former.

We may have huge distances to travel outside of cities and private road-based transport may be one of the best modes to keep the regions moving, however given our cities are the main productive engines where the overwhelming majority choose to live, work and play; our love affair with and over-use of the car, in cities at least, needs a reality check in the context of balanced transport policy.

Let's look at some data

This ABC The Drum piece published recently provides some great easy-to-disseminate data on the current breakdown of how we transport ourselves to work both nationally and at the state level. The original datasets from the ABS can be downloaded here.

To summarise the main form of transport used to go to work or study in Victoria are:

  • Private motor vehicle as driver (73%).
  • Public transport (17%).
  • Walk (4.1%).
  • Private motor vehicle as passenger (2.4%).
  • Bicycle (2.3%).

The top five reasons for not using public transport in Victoria from the same dataset are summarised thus:

  • No service available at all (28.2%).
  • Convenience/comfort/privacy of own vehicle (26.8%).
  • No service available at the right/convenient time (22.9%).
  • Travel time too long (18.6%).
  • Own vehicle needed before/during/after hours (8.3%).

Outside the top five, other reasons include 'carrying equipment/tools/passengers' at 7.8%, 'company or employer's vehicle needed during work/study hours' at 4.2% and 'concerned about personal safety' at a very small 1.8%.

Previous goals and aspirations

In Growing Victoria Together, the previous state Labor Government sought to have a transport mode shift with 20% of all motorised trips being carried out on public transport. Back in 2007, The Age ran a piece which included an interview with then Transport Minister Lynne Kosky which she stated the 20% public transport mode share by 2020 was always an aspirational goal. Whether the current Government or the Opposition can claim credit for getting us to where we are now - within striking distance of 20% by 2020 - is moot. More importantly the question is: where to now?

The previous Government's aspirational goal now looks set to come to fruition and potentially sooner than expected. It's all very nice to announce big ticket transport projects to sharpen the minds of voters, but what is not very clear - across the political spectrum - is what's driving the decision making process.

Balance is the word du jour when Transport Ministers speak about projects but ultimate goals - other than the throw away "congestion busting" soundbites - are rarely spoken about in this day and age.

How about 40/40/20-2035?

40% public transport, 40% private vehicle, 20% non-motorised: deadline 2035.

The previous Government gave themselves a very conservative 15 years to double public transport patronage, 40/40/20-2035 would provide a 20 year timeframe for any successive Government to double it yet again - with the added bonus in truly providing balanced transport options across the motorised modes.

Over to you.

Lead image credit: wikipedia.

1 comment

Martin Mankowski's picture

Those stats really reinforce the view that price is not a great driver behind patronage levels. Despite the fact that 'too expensive' does not feature in the top 8 reasons for not using public transport, both parties have committed to effectively removing zone 2, 'to save commuters money'. That decision will cost circa $100 million a year - thats a $billion of transport infrastructure over a decade.

40/40/20 is a great idea. Those stats show that the only way to get there is provide a better service - not a cheaper one. Political expediency at its very worst.

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