A 30 minute nugget of ideas

This podcast from ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live a few months ago is a 30 minute nugget of transport and city ideas:

Why fund rail when roads are our future?

Ignore the thoroughly incorrect title and the first minute or two from the host, previewing the later parts of the program.

Kings Cross, Sydney, looking towards the CBD

The participants throw in lots of things to think about, including:

  • The nature of the democracies that led to the public transport nirvanas of Switzerland and Germany
  • Political cycles, starting a momentum
  • Capacity of road lanes vs rail – the rapid deterioration of road speeds as they get busier
  • Congestion on roads is determined by how good the public transport is, and even that better PT results in better roads
  • Hobbling of Infrastructure Australia
  • Freedom of movement in great PT cities
  • Access vs mobility
  • Building city centres relies on transport capacity
  • Smart phones as personal travel assistants
  • Tech driving timetable and operational efficiencies
  • Developing world, mixed success

Definitely worth a listen

(I confess, I’ve listened to it three times so far.)

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

3 replies on “A 30 minute nugget of ideas”

And the ‘screw those who drive’ brigade sitting in their ivory towers again conveniently ignore the one factor that substantially sways things against PT in Australian cities: density.

Even if you covered the entire city with 10/24/7 PT, our trips in many cases are simply too long. A walk-bus-train-train-bus-walk trip of 2 hours (say Caulfield to Craigieburn) vs a 1-hour drive…it’s a no brainer.

Trips into the CBD are PT-dominated anyway.

@Twister, I hope you actually listened to the audio.

Taking your example, this morning I tried Bing Maps with “Craigieburn to Caulfield”. It guessed a starting location about 5 mins walk from Craigieburn station, and a destination in Caulfield requiring a bus ride at the end.

The result: 44 minutes by car, but due to traffic, 69 minutes. PT: 79 minutes.

What happens as the population increases? Roads slow down, even if lots of new roads are built/expanded – as the commentators on the podcast explain. The PT trip (at least the non-road part) remains about the same.

Australian cities don’t have a density problem. If a suburb is dense enough to get congested, it’s dense enough for 10 minute trains/trams/trunk route buses.

And it’s not about telling those who drive not to drive, it’s about ensuring that future transport investment gives us the city outcomes we actually want, and improvements that last.

As one of the people on the programme remarked: ultimately transport isn’t about mobility (moving around), it’s about access (getting to the things you need).

The issue here is assuming that destinations in outer suburbs like Werribee, Taneit or Craigieburn being close to stations. Unlike the south-east, it doesn’t hold true for much of the outer fringe of Melbourne.

Last time I went to Werribee by PT, I had to take a train to Southern cross, wait 10 minutes to change, then take the train out to Werribee and then rely on hopeless bus services to get me around within the suburb.

Beyond the inner/middle suburbs, the density in our suburbs falls off rapidly.

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