A new report by Infrastructure Australia exposes the inadequacies in public transport networks across major Australian cities, especially in the suburban areas.

Residents of outer Sydney, for instance, have lower access to public transport systems, struggle with poor frequencies and face longer travel times, in comparison with those living in the inner city areas. Public transport services have not kept pace with the increasing development of suburban areas and the corresponding population growth.

About a million people in Sydney’s outer suburbs do not live within walking distance of reasonable quality public transport.

While urban areas benefit from higher service frequencies since public transport networks are designed for routes to merge closer to the city centre, those living in outer areas are likely to have poor frequencies.

According to the report, 25 percent of suburban Sydney residents commute more than 30 kilometres to their workplace against three percent of people living in the inner suburbs.

This has an impact on household budgets with suburban residents relying on private vehicles to get them to their destinations.

Public transport investment has always been centred on high-density corridors since governments rely on patronage to support business cases for further investment in transport infrastructure. But this has also meant that low-density outer areas receive little public transport investment.

Infrastructure Australia suggests that the government should explore new models of transport such as on-demand buses to facilitate access to cost-effective public transport for outer Sydney residents. Additionally, commuters shouldn’t be penalised for switching modes of public transport such as from buses to trains to reach their destinations.

By removing this fare penalty, the government can help increase the flexibility and reach of the transport network.