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Roads Australia Insider - November 2, 2018


Outer suburbs left behind by lack of public transport access

Infrastructure Australia is calling on state governments to improve the efficiency of existing transport networks and consider new models to service communities in the growing outer suburbs.

The call comes in the wake of the release of a new report from the advisory body that says growing communities on the outskirts of our major cities are being left behind by a lack of access to public transport.

Outer Urban Public Transport: Improving accessibility in lower-density areas assesses the frequency and accessibility of public transport services in major cities ahead of the anticipated unprecedented population growth in coming years.

Infrastructure Australia Executive Director of Policy and Research, Peter Colacino, says while existing transport infrastructure serves inner city areas well, people living on the outskirts of major cities are being disadvantaged by a lack of access to frequent public transport services. This impacts their ability to access jobs, education and other opportunities to improve their quality of life.

“Close to half the population of our five largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide – live in the outer suburbs, however our research shows that people living in these areas experience lower levels of service and accessibility to public transport, poor service frequencies and longer travel times compared to inner city residents," he says.

“Across all five cities, a substantial number of people living in the outer suburbs do not have frequent public transport services within walking distance of their home. In Melbourne, more than 1.4 million people fall into this category, with more than one million in Sydney and Brisbane, half a million in Perth and 200,000 in Adelaide."

Mr Colacino says new technology and delivery models, such as on-demand buses, offer an immediate opportunity to confront these challenges by increasing the flexibility and reach of the network and therefore serving a more diverse range of destinations.

“This report makes a clear case for governments to consider new models such as on-demand buses and ride-sharing to complement more traditional modes, like bus and rail," he says.

“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. 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.”


Transport activity gives a $122 billion kick to economy

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has, for the first time, put a dollar figure on the total contribution of transport activity across all industries in Australia, providing a valuable new metric to help determine future transport infrastructure investments.

Using an experimental Transport Satellite Account, the ABS has estimated a total transport activity contribution to the Australian economy of $122.3 billion in 2015-16.

While this contribution has been included in past measures of the economy, it’s the first time the complete transport contribution has been transparently reported.

The transport industry alone made a notable contribution, accounting for $77.0 billion (4.6 per cent) of GDP in 2015-16. Transport was also integral to the day-to-day business of all other industries. Activity in these other industries added a further $45.3 billion (2.7 per cent) of GDP during this period. These contributions have remained stable over time.

ABS Centre for Environmental and Satellite Accounts Director, Jonathon Khoo, says the new data will help identify the full extent of transport activities that occur in the economy.

"For example, the account highlights that businesses outside the transport industry actually used more road transport than the transport industry itself," he says.

"According to this new account, the construction industry was the largest user of transport outside of the transport industry, responsible for $18.7 billion of transport use. This was followed by the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, reporting $9.8 billion, and mining, at $9.2 billion.

"Transport activity also contributed to the economy through employment, accounting for one million – or 8.6 per cent - of total employed persons in the economy in 2015-16.

"This data will help policy makers to better understand the direct and indirect effects of transport-related policy changes, and will also support decisions on investment in transport infrastructure."

The Australian Transport Economic Account: An Experimental Transport Satellite Account, 2010-11 to 2015-16 (cat. no. 5270.0) has been produced in partnership with the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, and is available for free download from the ABS website.


Victoria shows the way with release of State of Engineering Report

The Victorian State of Engineering Report, released last week, has put front and centre the importance of engineering to the State’s bottom line.

Compiled by Victoria’s inaugural Chief Engineer, Dr Collette Burke, the report finds that engineering-enabled industries are responsible for more than 600,000 jobs and contribute nearly a quarter of Victoria’s gross state product.

The report highlights how engineers are playing a pivotal role in bringing the Government’s infrastructure pipeline to life, and that engineers are needed more than ever to plan, design, deliver, operate and maintain the Victoria of the future.

The report also maps out a broad range of challenges for the engineering profession, including STEM uptake in schools, adaptation to technological advances and workplace diversity.

Roads Australia President, David Stuart-Watt, last week commended the Government and Dr Burke on leading the collaborative process underpinning the report.

“There has been extensive involvement from industry to formulate this report – from the construction and manufacturing sector to engineering industry leaders, universities and professional bodies – including ourselves, he said.

“There are a number of initiatives that will be actioned from the report and it’s encouraging to see them laid out in short, medium and long-term horizons.

“We look forward to working with the Victorian Government as we enter implementation phase, particularly in developing a strategic long-term framework for STEM education, investigating initiatives that support the infrastructure pipeline and sustainable construction and enhancing a medium-term infrastructure roadmap."

Mr Stuart-Watt said the impact Dr Burke has had as the inaugural Chief Engineer was significant in the short time she had held the office.

“This report lays bare the importance of engineering in the development of our society and it is our view that there should be a Chief Engineer designated in every state and territory throughout the country,” he said.

“We will also be talking with other jurisdictions about developing a similar report on the state of engineering within each of their own unique economies.”

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