15 thoughts on “Increasing the Use of Public Transport May be Harder Than We Think”

  1. John, there is a wealth of detail here. I think it shows that it is easy to make facile comments about improving public transport and road usage in general, but difficult to come up with genuine improvements.

    Brisbane is blessed with a significant river flowing through it that is expensive to bridge, hilly topography, especially on our side of town, and the forest areas of Mt Coot-tha, the Taylor Range and the Brisbane Forest Park which intrude to within 7km of the GPO. The original streets and roads followed the ridges and were quite narrow. Hence riding bikes has always been difficult and dangerous.

    Then there is the tunnel system, which can help, but it’s quite easy to go the wrong way. I’m not sure how much public transport uses the tunnels, I suspect not much, but there is the proposed and very expensive cross-river rail proposal which we are told is necessary to stop the city from grinding to a halt.

    The free bicycle system has been a spectacular failure, partly because the city is not bike-friendly and partly because you have to carry and wear a helmet.

  2. I get a bit tired of people when they are obsessed to the point where they wont consider doing things that will help car travel Get even tireder when they want us all to live in high density housing so that their transport vision will work.
    Tireder still when they won’t consider spending the money on improving public transport out my way because it will cost too much and is out in the boon docks.
    I think we need to look at a wide range of transport as well as ways of reducing peak transport demand.

  3. John, I travel out your way and back a number of times each week against the traffic. Often it looks like a car park on the other side of the road!

  4. Brian: Wash your mouth out with soap! The opportunity-cost of Brisbane tunnels against safer roads out here in The Other Australia could get you into a punch-up with locals; it is a rallying cry for the separation and new state movement in Burnett-Capricornia and, I suppose, would be in North Queensland’s push for separation too.

    Thanks for your terrific analysis, John D.

    Concentration on the Working Outside The City Centre aspect, as well as increasing the T2 Lanes, are definitely the ways to go.

  5. GB: In the minds of some city transport planners Brisbane ends about 5 km from the city center. Inside this magic ring you have lots of cross river bridges, free cross river ferries and even a free inner city bus service.
    The Nationals in WA have had a lot of success with their “Royalties for regions” to the point where they now hold what used to be safe Labor seats like Pt Hedland.

  6. Brian: The really crazy thing about Brisbane is that all the toll roads, bridges and tunnels are congestion bypasses while no tolls are charged for driving along congested roads and into generally congested areas. Equally crazy is the way bus fares are much higher than the cost of running an already owned car. So much for providing sensible incentives for desirable actions.
    The real corker is the effect of legacy way in the afternoon. It has added to the afternoon congestion on the Western Freeway – Brilliant planning!

  7. Hi John this is a really interesting discussion thank you. I wonder if figures on where people commute for work are available for Melbourne? This had never occurred to me that so many people work close to their residence (probably because I’ve never been lucky enough to be in that position!)

    Just some minor problems: the third para is a repeat, and the link about “Brisbane’s working population … ” doesn’t seem to work.
    Also I see the two columns for Mlbourne in figs 1 and 3 are also in the source article, but I can’t see what it means – is it using two different boundaries or something? (If you know?)

    If the commutes to work are relatively short, then active transport should be more easy to promote, but I guess the factors you mention – safety, convenience etc – are the challenges. I guess we could also tell people that cycling gets easier the more you do it, so ‘hot and sweaty’ becomes less of a factor.

    I’m in the fortunate position of having employer provided bike facilities with nice showers, clean towels etc – it’s great. Because the Monash facilities are rented from a hospital (Alfred), there is a health and wellbeing focus, but I also happen to know the relevant population health manager there, and I know she has put a lot of work into getting all these health and wellbeing facilities (including healthy choices food labelling in the cafe etc).

    Getting employers onside is a slow process. Of course the Abbott government kept the favourable tax treatment of novated car leases (why are we not surprised?) – getting rid of that would be a step forward. It’s not only executives but ordinary staff in low paying not-for-profits who have access to that, I believe. Reducing car culture needs a multi-pronged approach, I think your post is a great contribution to the debate and will link it on my blog later (for my few readers! – but it all helps)

  8. Val: Thanks for the comments. The offending pargraph has been removed. I find that Google is a lot more powerful than it used to be and most of the stuff I used can be found by asking to look for the fig title I used with Brisbane replaced by Melb. However, couldn’t find the link thathas gone missing on where people commuted to – which has been a very useful piece of information.
    The 66% local has made me look harder for local jobs. Once you start looking you suddenly see small shopping/business centers as well as houses that hold small engineering offices etc. Then there are people like I was at times working out of home with no signs to tell a passer-by that this was a workplace.
    We lived in Melbourne in 1980 (Mt Waverly working in a CBD office.) Rode my bike about 2 km to station without hot and sweaty being a problem. Hot and sweaty is a problem in Brisbane. In some cases this problem can be solved by an employer who provides a shower but this is unlikely to be practical when a high percentage of employees ride bikes. The logical answer to hot and sweaty is electric bikes. (Use the power to get to work all cool then get the exercise on the way home.)
    What is possible depends on your commute and weather.

  9. I’ve had a look, Val, and I’m impressed with a 17 km commute, even over flat land!

    Graham, I know you need better roads, bridges and such, but Brisbane would just gum up if we didn’t spend some money here. Queensland has the most dispersed population, and generally more challenging topography and extreme weather events, where people live.

    One aspect not mentioned is the time wasted in traffic by tradies, delivery services and other services to the home. My wife now works in in-home aged care a few days a week. She often has to tell her controllers, no, it isn’t possible to get from The Gap to St Lucia in 15 minutes. She gets paid if she’s sitting in a traffic jam, but being on time is important, sometimes critical to take people to medical appointments etc.

  10. John, I’m not sure it’s valid to accuse traffic planners of a 5km horizon. For example, I think something like $4 billion was spent on the interchange at Oxley and traffic works between Brisbane and Ipswich. Last time I went to the Gold Coast I got lost, because the whole joint seems to have been re-organised. The reconstruction of the roads around the airport was a mega project.

    Legacy Way for those who don’t know it, is a a 4.6 km tunnel linking the Western Freeway at Toowong and the Inner City Bypass at Kelvin Grove. I believe it bypasses 22 sets of traffic lights. The Wikipedia article says the travel time between the Centenary Bridge and the Inner City Bypass has been reduced by 71%.

    A lot of our tunnels were built on shonky traffic forecasts. The link above says Legacy Way carries 20,000 per day. Not sure how that stacks up, but it should produce a revenue stream of around $35 million pa as against a $1.5 billion cost.

    This Council blurb says the whole tunnel system takes 120,000 car movements off the surface each day. I’m sure that will increase over time. Don’t know, but I think the Clem Jones tunnel, cross river, might be the dud in the pack. Certainly the Inner City Bypass and the Airport link work like a charm when you have to meet planes from our place, and probably save an hour or more against a public transport trip. Public transport would probably cost double the cash outlay, taxi would be more than double again.

  11. Brian: The 5km to the boon docks thinking was a probelm at the last local gov election. Just ask where the free bus service and free cross river ferries end. Then go along ans see where the bridges are, particularly the free bridges. Then look at where the bus services are concentrated.
    Viv/Brian: It takes an old codger like me about 3/4 hr to go to/from my place and Southbank over a not particularly flat route.

  12. John, from a meeting we attended way back when about our local roads, there are different classifications of roads. Our road, Davies Road, is a local road where traffic is minimised, and Coopers Camp Road which it feeds into one end is a through road where the more traffic the better, up to a point. The strategy is to calm Davies Road with chicanes and speed bumps and push the traffic onto Coopers Camp. Some of those measures can be difficult or incompatible with buses. When we came there were 5500 cars per day whizzing past our door, which was supposed to be a back street.

    Heavy trucks were banned and calming installed, but our neighbours had trouble with tool boxes doing a jump on the back of utes, with a speed bump right there near their bedroom in the front of the house. Also breaking and accelerating.

    Speed bump removed through lobbying and it’s all pretty good now, other than a townhouse development that went in over the road, leading to congested parking.

    There are different focusses for local, state and national government in terms of responsibility and funding, and I’m sure the results of this are sometimes less than optimal.

  13. Yes it takes me about 45-50 mins, I’m not a fast rider though I do have a good bike (courtesy Xmas present from kids) which makes a big difference. My ride to work is basically slight downhill whereas coming home is of course slight uphill, but the slope is so gradual that it’s not hard.

    I’m visiting Brissie again soon with family but won’t have a bike, so can’t test out how I go on your hills! Hobart would be the real challenge I think, some of the hills there are seriously steep.

  14. Val: Living where the route to work is slightly downhill would be the equivalent of having an electric bike in terms of arriving at work without being hot and sweaty and getting a good workout on the way home.

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