Australia will only keep pace with population growth if it follows the example of Asia’s largest cities and favours mass transit systems over private car use, according to peak transport infrastructure body, Roads Australia (RA).
RA’s Cities of the Future report finds that Australian cities are a generation behind the likes of Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore in providing integrated transport solutions.
RA argues that “urgent and exponential” spending on public transport is required if Australia is to have any hope of keeping pace with expected population growth over the coming decades.
The report captures learnings from an RA-led study visit by public and private sector leaders to Japan, Korea and Singapore at the end of 2018.
The delegation looked at how major Asian national and city governments are developing transport networks to cope with population growth, liveability, changing demographics and the introduction of autonomous vehicles.
“Our regional neighbours have been focussed on building world class mass public transit systems since post-World War Two,” Mr Stuart-Watt said.
“As a result, they today boast modern, strongly interconnected grid networks with high frequency, fast, affordable and reliable services.
“What’s more, these networks are being continually upgraded and rapidly expanded.”
RA’s report found that public transport thinking, investment and culture is embedded in these cities – and has been for generations – in sharp contrast to the car-centric culture in Australia.
Transport agendas in Asia are underpinned by high-level, national government and industry collaboration which the report says is fundamentally lacking in Australia’s state-centric approach.
The report recommends that state and city governments implement integrated charging and demand management systems across the total commuter journey.
It argues that a co-ordinated, cross-jurisdiction approach to autonomous vehicle trials, regulatory reform, network control technologies and mapping systems is critical if Australia is to see a successful and early roll-out of driverless vehicles by 2025.
According to RA, Australia must adopt an ‘open access’ approach to the sharing of transport network data – including data captured by private players.
On a positive note, the report identifies a significant opportunity for Australia to get on-board as a hydrogen producer, as hydrogen is likely to be the fuel technology of choice for road vehicle fleets, particularly buses and trucks.