Has transport infrastructure kept pace with the increasing development and expansion of suburban areas across Australia?
Not quite, if one were to study the numbers, particularly, the percentage of people living in outer city areas, the estimated growth in population, the amount of time it takes for a suburban dweller to access public transport, and the number of people with inadequate access to public transport services.
Infrastructure Australia has recently released a report that exposes the inadequacies of the current public transportation network, which is more focussed on inner city areas rather than the suburbs.
A startling statistic is that more than four million suburban residents in the major cities are impacted by their inability to access public transport services within walking distance of their homes.
Australia steadfastly remains suburban with nearly 50 percent of the population preferring to live in the outer city areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
Even the 11-million growth projected for Australia’s population over the next 30 years is mostly going to occur in the suburbs.
The low frequency of public transport services is placing suburban Australians at a disadvantage, limiting their access to employment, education and various facilities, thereby affecting their quality of life.
City-wise figures reveal that 1.4 million people from Melbourne’s outer suburbs have the worst access to public transport within walking distance.
More than 1 million people in Sydney and Brisbane, half a million Perth residents and 200,000 Adelaide residents also live with inadequate access to public transport. This means people living in outer city areas have to travel farther and spend more time to get to work and back – close to half of this population travel more than 20km each day to work.
The current inadequacies in the public transport system have also forced people living or working in suburban areas to depend on their private vehicles, which means they have to bear the additional costs of operating and maintaining a vehicle, affecting their household budgets.
Infrastructure Australia executive director of policy and research Peter Colacino called on state governments to improve existing transport networks and consider new technologies and delivery models such as on-demand buses.