BIC: $10 billion to help fix public transport crisis, say experts

The PTUA participated in a media event on Tuesday morning with the Bus Industry Confederation to highlight the need for Federal funding for urban public transport. The BIC media release is below.


A group of public transport experts today called for a $10 billion investment from the Federal Government to help fix public transport.

“We are calling for at least $10 billion dollars to come from the Federal Government’s to help fix public transport in our major capitals and regional centres,”

“Families are being hurt by high fuel prices and high interest rates, we need the Federal Government to step in and provide Australians with travel alternatives to the car,” said Professor Graham Currie, Chair of Public Transport at Monash University.

The comments came as experts from industry, Government and Universities held a meeting looking at sustainable public transport solutions for Australia.

“Rising fuel prices, the cost of housing and the high levels of traffic congestion we see in our urban centres are driving people to public transport, which is fast reaching crisis point as demand outstrips the availability of services.

“We have public transport systems at breaking point; State Governments can only do so much to meet demand.

“Outer-metropolitan and regional areas are hurting the most because the people who live there are the most reliant on their cars and are at the mercy of petrol price fluctuations” said Adjunct Professor John Stanley of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, University of Sydney.

“Australia is one of the few Western developed economies where the national Government plays no role in public transport. This needs to change.

“So far we’ve heard a lot of talk from the new Government about their commitment to addressing the problems of fuel prices, traffic congestion, and climate change, it’s time we see some action before it’s too late,” said Michael Apps, Executive Director of the Bus Industry Confederation.

The group identified housing pressure through increasing interest rates, the rising costs of living associated with food price increases, inflation and rising fuel prices as key elements in recent spikes in public transport patronage.

In their joint statement the group highlighted recent research which showed public transport patronage had increased three per cent across the country, with significantly faster increases in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

“Efficient, accessible and reliable public transport systems can be part of a short, medium and long term solution to the problems of traffic congestion, climate change and the impact of fuel prices on living costs,” said Currie.

“While cities, particularly outer-metropolitan suburbs, have the biggest problems with access to public transport, we cannot forget about regional and remote communities where fuel prices and the lack of alternative travel choices are having a disastrous impact on families.

“Social exclusion as a result of not being able to afford to drive your car and move freely, if you own a car, is a real problem that needs to be considered by our Governments,” said Dr Janet Stanley, Chief Research Officer of the Monash University Sustainability Institute.

The group identified increased investment in public transport, greater use of alternative fuels and more fuel efficient vehicles as a three part strategy to reduce fuel demand and minimise the impact of fluctuations in fuel prices.

“Recent numbers from Transperth show a person driving a small car 25 kms, to work with fuel prices at $1.60 per litre can save more than $1,500 a year by using public transport for their work trips. These figures don’t include the cost of repayments, depreciation, registration and insurance. Savings are much larger if public transport improvements reduce the need to own a car.

“Other calculations from Adelaide and NSW show similar savings and from this we can say that the availability of public transport can play an important role in keeping down the living costs associated with travelling to work and elsewhere,” said Dr Stanley.

The group called for increased funding from all levels of Government, but singled out the Federal Government, which is currently not involved in funding public transport, as needing to become a vital player in a nationwide improvement of the system.

“What we need is an initial cash injection from State and Federal Governments, to get more buses on the road and more trains on the rail system, providing people with comfortable, frequent services and starting to build a public transport culture. This must be supported by substantially increased public transport infrastructure development,” said Apps.

Bus Industry Confederation
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