Back to All News

Inquiry makes strong case for Public Transport

Public Transit Motion - by Vermin Inc

The Senate Inquiry into Public Transport has tabled its report which makes a compelling case for substantial Commonwealth funding for public transport.

The Committee recognised that public transport:
• moderates traffic congestion;
• improves the general urban amenity when coupled with priority to walking and cycling;
• improves energy efficiency, reduces reliance on imported oil, and reduces transport greenhouse emissions;
• promotes public health; and
• is needed to reduce the transport disadvantage and social isolation of people without cars.

You can also read the full report, or the speech or the media release.


Some of the highlights:

• Notes a universal call for better public transport services: route coverage, operating hours, speed and comfort.

• Recognises that building more roads does not alleviate congestion, but rather encourages growth of traffic and entrenches patterns of urban development that create high car use.

• Recognises the need for more bus and tram priority measures to attract motorists from congestion traffic onto public transport.

• "It would be wise for Australia to pay more attention to 'peak oil' concerns, and to adopt strong policies to reduce its oil dependence in the long term.

• That the CPRS alone is not enough action from the Federal Government to take to mitigate transport emissions.

• Connection between car-dependent lifestyles, inactivity and incidence of overweight needs action in both public health and urban planning fields.

• Agrees that significant catch-up investment in public transport infrastructure is needed.

• That cost-benefit analysis of public transport investment should give adequate attention to externalities and matters hard to quantify.

Economic Issues

• It is estimated that $3 billion per year is saved through reduced traffic congestion due to walking, cycling and public transport use at current levels. This is expected to double by 2020.

• BITRE estimate that a congestion charge could reduce peak hour travel by 20% and overall travel time by 40% and fuel consumption by 30%

• Public subsidy for public transport is high - around $3.3 billion per year ($4.9 billion cost less $1.6 billion in revenue raised through fares) for the five capital cities.

• However that is little compared to the $55 billion Australians spend on car ownership and use per year. You then need to add the public cost of infrastructure to support that use (roads / parking / external costs like congestion and accidents)!

• Cost of transport per passenger km (Sydney):
o 47 cents for trains
o 57 cents for bus
o 86 cents for cars
Externality cost of car travel is car travel is roughly equal to the subsidy of a bus or train at 38 cents per passenger km.

• 72% of journeys to work in Sydney's CBD are made using public transport, 60% in Melbourne and 35% in Perth, thus existing congestion free rail services are very important for supporting the economic life of central business districts.

• The report confirms there has been very little Fed investment in recent decades in public transport i.e. "In the 30 years to 2004 it spent $58 billion on roads, $2.2 billion on rail, and $1.5 billion on public transport."


• Transport emissions from cars make up roughly 7.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Transport emissions are the second greatest source of emissions growth after stationary energy.

• On present trends urban traffic will increase by 37 per cent between 2005 and 2020.

• Public transport trips increased by 14.7 per cent from 2004 to 2008, and the public transport mode share increased from 9.3 per cent to 10.6 per cent in the eight capital cities. This growth is well above population growth and is said to be increasing petrol prices and 'changing community attitudes'.

• Only 1-2% work trips are made by bike.

See all the submissions to the inquiry here.

Back to All News