Opinion Pieces: since 2007, Prof. David Hensher has written an opinion column in the Australasian Bus and Coach magazine, where he monthly discusses a lot of different transport-related hot topics. In this section we are revisiting these columns.
Almost daily we see media reports of State governments commenting on their transport priorities. While the political process is complicated and one respects the obligations of politicians to their constituents, it remains a great puzzle (dare I say frustration) that the focus is primarily on promoting a few big projects in a corridor in our metropolitan areas. If money was plentiful, then one might argue that we can go along with this (despite it not necessarily being the best spend in terms of value for money). Why is it that the message that the focus must be on the entire network and not on specific corridors simply is not getting through in at least two States of Australia? I guess the answer lies in votes that might be easier to capture with a couple of big ticket highly visible projects? Well, fair enough for those who might benefit from them (putting asides the date in the future when they may be operational); but what about the rest of the system that needs good accessibility (broadly defined by connectivity and frequency). At the end of the day the real test of value for money is system-wide – how are people benefiting in traveling from their origin (O) (where the trip starts – not a railway station or bus stop) to their destination (D) (where the trip finishes, not a railway station or bus stop)? It seems from my reading and listening, that opportunities to give all an attractive level of public transport service (in terms of OD connectivity and frequency) is simply not on the political agendas, except in fine words and aspirations – it certainly is not reflected in investment announcements (potential or actual). I look forward to the day when the political machine announces that we will be funding and investing in a fully integrated bus (on its own right of way – tunnelled or above ground) and rail network based on the OD needs of the public that is not defined by one or two very expensive (and likely to be poor value for money) projects in corridors. Think networks and systems please. It is no wonder that the car will reign supreme for the long future – even getting revised car use pricing on the agenda seems to be talked about but ignored as a sensible way forward to tame the car and fund public transport investment.
Food for thought
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