Basically it examines the case for the Commonwealth Government’s greater involvement and participation in the transport planning and coordination in our cities and towns. Cities with sustainable transport systems address environmental, economic and social issues under partnerships between communities, governments and developers, at national, regional and local levels. City health impact assessments become part of the process, and highlight the benefits of walking and cycling as alternatives to vehicle usage.
Most Sydney respondents believe that the city has significant traffic and transport problems while half call for more road infrastructure and three-quarters demand more funds for public transport. South-east Queensland and Brisbane are little different, given their rapid population growth and lack of an integrated rail and bus transport network, despite plans to introduce a system more than 30 years ago.A communiqué on ‘liveable communities for Australia’ released on 21 June 2001, reflected the opinions of some 16 independent professional and social organisations by urging strategic direction, policy integration and understanding of the spatial impacts of national policy directions on our cities and regions. The communiqué urged Commonwealth leadership in strategic development infrastructure — under a multi-government task force — with sustainable and integrated transport and land use programs. These would include economic, social and environmental consideration and entail wide consultations.
The public recognises that there is a lack of long-term public transport planning in Australia and the need for more urban mass transit and investment. The absence of integrated land use planning has often thwarted transport accessibility and increased negative impacts. Yet there are means of improving mass transit usage by building related high-density corridors and associated passenger facilities. The integration of transport and land use planning, involving all parties is essential to achieve sustainable urban transport. A 1995 report on congestion management estimated the cost of congestion in Australia’s capital cities at over $5 billion per year spread across metropolitan areas and time of day.Congestion will remain.
We might expect technological and fuel improvements to make road vehicles less polluting and less accident-prone, but their congestion effects will remain. Current trends are likely to continue. The institutionalisation of car dependence occurs, encouraged by road funding and the car industry, while public transport is seen as outdated and requiring deficit funding. Transportation agencies operate largely independently and often compete with one another and with planning agencies that are primarily concerned with fringe developments. Outer green-field sites can receive greater infrastructure subsidies and regulatory favour than inner city areas.
In a study to identify why such sustainable urban travel policy strategies have proven so difficult for countries to implement, the OECD determined that urban travel and land use problems are not just urban issues. Rather, the economic, social and environmental impacts extend well beyond to national and regional levels. The study proposes a package of complementary policy instruments including integration of land use and transport planning at local, regional and national levels. The package involves measures to limit growth in car usage with expansion of available alternatives, through legal, pricing and technological tools: public consultation, provision of quality public transport, traffic management, road and congestion pricing, climate change policies and specific policy targets are elements. Institutional, legal, regulatory and fiscal barriers remain, requiring renewed policy-making frameworks in conjunction with solid, long-term political commitment. A national policy framework for urban land-use and travel policy making can also establish links between national objectives for transport, environment and health in regional areas. Health impact assessments become part of transport policy proposals.”
Juris says: Note the acknowledged link between health and transport issues. Another paper yet again to merely keep the consulting industry going? The case for determined and committed urban transport coordination through all levels of government is unquestionable in an urban nation. Yet, what are we to expect if we cannot plan and coordinate at State level? How can it be that new railway stations are still built on fringes of urban centres and town centres developed beyond walking of transport nodes? If it were an indictable offence, many politicians and public servants would be in gaol.