CEO update—Improving public transport in our outer suburbs

Good afternoon,

As Australia’s preparedness for our upcoming population growth continues to be the subject of debate, Infrastructure Australia remains focused on delivering better infrastructure outcomes for all Australians.

Over the next 30 years, close to 80% of Australia’s population growth will be concentrated in our five largest cities—Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Today, close to half of the population of these cities live in the outer suburbs. However, new research from Infrastructure Australia shows that people living in these areas experience lower levels of service and access to public transport, poor service frequencies and longer travel times compared to inner city residents.

Released today, the latest paper in our Reform Series, Outer Urban Public Transport: Improving accessibility in lower-density areas, assesses the frequency and accessibility of public transport services in our major cities.

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The paper finds that people living in the outer suburbs of our largest cities are being disadvantaged by a lack of access to frequent public transport services, impacting on their access to jobs, education and other opportunities to improve their quality of life.

These large and growing communities on our cities’ fringes deserve an equal share in the infrastructure that will support our growing nation.

Outer Urban Public Transport addresses the difficulties of supplying public transport services to low-density areas, where the population is more spread out. It calls on state and territory governments to improve the efficiency of existing transport networks and to draw on new models, such as on-demand services and ride sharing, to service communities in the growing outer suburbs.

Read the full report:  Outer Urban Public Transport: Improving accessibility in lower-density areas

Two new projects on the Infrastructure Priority List

Two new infrastructure projects have been listed as Priority Projects on the Infrastructure Priority List, the authoritative list of nationally significant investments Australia needs over the next 15 years.

This includes the Gawler Rail Line Electrification and Modernisation Project, the South Australian Government's plan to modernise one of Adelaide's busiest passenger rail routes.

The line provides services between Adelaide’s CBD and northern suburbs, as well as access to the regional centres of Mawson Lakes, Salisbury, Elizabeth and Gawler.

The 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit found that due to ongoing population growth in northern Adelaide, the number of commuters travelling on the Gawler line would almost double by 2031—meaning the rail line could reach capacity within five to ten years.

The Ballarat Rail Line Upgrade, which was also added to the Priority List, proposes the delivery of additional train services connecting Melbourne's growing outer west to the CBD.

The Ballarat Line is an important regional public transport link for Melbourne's outer west and provides access between the Melbourne CBD and growing population centres, such as Melton, Bacchus Marsh and Ballarat.

Strong population growth in Melbourne's outer west is driving increased demand for public transport, with the Ballarat Line already at capacity during peak times, causing passenger crowding and affecting the reliability of services.

Preparing for electric vehicles

This month, Infrastructure Australia appeared at the Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles.

Our Executive Director of Policy and Research, Peter Colacino, called for clear, straightforward planning policies for the transport and electricity sectors to take advantage of the inevitable mainstream uptake of electric vehicles.

The advent of electrification, automation, sharing and connectivity could bring the largest transformation the transport sector has seen since the shift from steam to diesel locomotives.

If well managed, this change presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to harness the technology for the benefit of all Australians.

Read Infrastructure Australia's submission to the Senate’s Select Committee on Electric Vehicles (no. 79).

In coming months, Infrastructure Australia will release further research on electric vehicles to consider some of the unprecedented shifts occurring across the infrastructure sector.

Our paper will seek to provide a roadmap for Australia to maximise the benefits of electric vehicle uptake, while avoiding the potential pitfalls of this transition.

Infrastructure Australia 2017–18 Annual Report

Infrastructure Australia’s 2017–18 Annual Report has now been published on our website.

The Annual Report details another successful year of delivering against our mandate, including the identification of a $55 billion investment pipeline with the 2018 Infrastructure Priority List and the release of four detailed policy papers as part of the infrastructure Reform Series.

It will be a busy end to the year for Infrastructure Australia as we look to share our final Reform Series paper for 2018, and continue to develop the 2019 Infrastructure Priority List and Australian Infrastructure Audit.

These documents will create a cross-sectoral picture of our infrastructure challenges to help guide infrastructure decision making and reform. Together, they will provide an evidence base to help Australia’s governments accommodate growth, extract the most value out of existing infrastructure and make smart, strategic decisions about future investments.

Anna Chau
Acting CEO, Infrastructure Australia