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Media Release


Higher Density: Not the miracle cure for sickly public transport

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) said today that high- density development, such as that proposed for Camberwell and many other suburban centres would not automatically reduce car dependency and increase public transport usage.

"While high-density development can help, ultimately public transport usage is driven by the improvement of services", said PTUA Vice- President Anna Morton. "Residents of suburbs like Camberwell are right to be cynical about the sort of development being proposed. If the problem we are trying to solve is that of traffic congestion and car dependency, the solution is public transport services that serve people's needs.

"You could pile people into tiny high-rise apartments above Camberwell Station, but it doesn't mean they're going to put up with waiting half an hour for a train after dark.

"One only has to look at Southbank to see that many people living in the highrise apartments keep and use their cars, because public transport access is relatively poor. High-density development does not automatically mean less car dependence and more public transport use."

The PTUA supports the vision of increasing public transport to 20% of all trips by 2020; but believes considerable service upgrades are required to make this a reality.

"If the state government is serious about increasing public transport use in the eastern suburbs it will now promise to build the Doncaster rail line with a station at Burke Road plus an extension of the 72 tram from Camberwell to North Kew, terminating at the rail line."

The Doncaster rail line was proposed as part of the 1969 Transport Plan, along with the Eastern Freeway. While the Freeway was built (with remaining sections to be completed by 2008), the corresponding rail line wasn't. Doncaster Hill is another designated principal activity centre, yet is several kilometres from rail and tram services.

"Unfortunately the misconception that higher density development brings greater public transport usage seems to have persisted," Dr. Morton said. "People will use public transport if services are competitive with car travel, regardless of housing density. This was confirmed in the early 90s with the upgrading of the Sandringham train services".

In 1992 rail frequencies on the Sandringham rail line were increased from 20 minutes to 15 minutes during the day and from 30 minutes to 20 minutes during the evening. Patronage soared by 38%, while costs had increased in the vicinity of only 20%.

"The residents of Camberwell, led by actor Geoffrey Rush, have a right to be concerned about planned development around Camberwell. Not only does it risk reducing liveability, but it will not convince people to use public transport when services remain poor", Dr. Morton concluded.

PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 8 April 2004