Passenger Rail

Outer suburbs left behind by poor access to public transport, IA report finds

Over four million people who live in the outer suburbs of Australia’s capital cities lack adequate access to public transport services, according to a new report by the nation’s independent infrastructure advisory body, Infrastructure Australia (IA).

IA’s report, Outer Urban Public Transport: Improving accessibility in lower-density areas, assesses the frequency and accessibility of public transport services in Australia’s major cities.

Peter Colacino, IA’s executive director of policy research, said that existing transport infrastructure in major cities was outside the reach of many communities living in the outer suburbs, leading to poorer access to job and educational opportunities.

“In Melbourne, more than 1.4 million people fall into this category, with more than 1 million in Sydney and Brisbane, half a million people in Perth and 200,000 people in Adelaide,” Colacino said.

“In the past, it has been very costly to deliver public transport in lower density, outer suburban areas where houses and employment centres are typically spread over large distances. As a result, people prefer to take the most direct route by driving, rather than taking a train or bus – adding to congestion in our growing cities.”

The report calls on state governments to improve the efficiency of existing transport networks and consider new models, such as on-demand buses and share-riding, to complement traditional transport modes such as rail.

Colacino said that this would improve the flexibility and reach of transport networks and enable them to better service communities living in outer suburbs.

“We also want governments and transport operators to do more to encourage people to transfer between public transport services, which helps to increase the flexibility and reach of the network,” Colacino.

“This includes investing in well-designed interchanges, extending integrated ticketing systems to new modes, and introducing fare incentives that actively encourage people to transfer between modes to get to their destination.”

Federal cities and urban infrastructure minister, Alan Tudge, said that he welcomed IA’s report.

“Having effective public transport connections is critical in providing access to jobs and services – maintaining our cities as liveable, thriving and vibrant economic centres – and the Government welcomes IA’s contribution to this important debate,” Tudge said.

“The Coalition are investing significantly in public transport for urban areas across Australia’s major cities as part of our $75 billion commitment to transport infrastructure.”