Influencing travel habits

Our letter as published in today’s Age was edited, which has subtly changed the intent. Below is the original letter as submitted:

Peter Fisher and Len Puglisi (Opinion, 18/3) are correct that density is not a panacea for car dependence. Los Angeles is a denser city than Melbourne but hardly rates on the sustainable transport front.

Shifting from car use to public transport is not a magical outcome of denser living, but happens when public transport is organised into high-quality networks which serve not just CBD travel, but trips in all directions. In Melbourne these networks are found only in inner-suburban areas with reasonably frequent tram services.

Sure enough, Department of Transport data shows that compared to residents of outer-suburban areas like Knox, Casey and Wyndham, residents of Yarra and Port Phillip travel by car 15% less, and residents of the City of Melbourne 40% less.

This disproves assertions that transit-oriented development can’t influence travel habits when done properly. But the quality of public transport is the key. Imagine what could be done with a network of fast, frequent, reliable public transport right across suburban Melbourne – with or without more apartments.

Daniel Bowen
President, Public Transport Users Association