Australian cities continue to grow, and while this is a good thing it presents us with challenges, such as congestion, traffic and pollution to our natural environment.
As urban sprawl increases, residents are moving further and further away from the city. This becomes a problem when they are trying to commute to the same places during rush hour.
Malcolm Turnbull, who wants to be known as the infrastructure prime minister, has introduced the Smart Cities Plan, a policy allocating $50 million for infrastructure planning and development, inclusive of light rail plans. Where Abbott focused on the recycling of assets, selling off and reinvesting, this plan would see the creation of an infrastructure financing unit, aiming at developing innovative financing methods with the private sector.
He envisages an ambitious “30 minute city”, reducing travel times and providing commuters with more efficient access to their destinations. Light rail provides the answer for cities, it is a mode of transport that:
- Facilitates urban regeneration
- Increases passenger mobility, particularly in city centres
- Reduces heavy peak hour traffic and congestion
- Has environmental advantages over other transport modes
- Stimulates investment activity through both residential and commercial developments
According to the Smart Cities Plan, urban congestion costs Australia more than $16.5 billion a year, and is estimated to hit between $27.7 and $37.7 billion by the year 2030. Light rail will aid in reducing congestion costs and, according to the Tourism and Transport Forum, has been noted as being particularly effective in shifting choice away from private vehicles. It is therefore imperative in achieving the 30 minute commute.
Professor Peter Newman, described as Turnbull’s “tutor” on transport and policy, advised on new methods of funding, utilising the private sector from the beginning. He said, “we are unleashing a whole new approach to delivering infrastructure – instead of it being top down it actually begins with the private sector and involves them right from the start”. Professor Newman, a speaker at the upcoming Light Rail conference, is a strong supporter of Mr Turnbull’s direction on delivering infrastructure.
The Driving Growth in Light Rail conference will draw upon expertise from across Australia to tackle these topics. With many of our cities looking to construct light rail systems there is an implicit need to understand how to finance, plan and implement these massive infrastructure projects. Book your place at the event by May 20th to save $400.