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Movement of the future

TRAINS, buses, bicycles and legs are the future of metropolitan transport.

Private cars have long been the principal mode of travel for Western Australians, but that is set to change dramatically in the next decade, as transport authorities push toward a vision of less traffic and less pollution.

The key to the success of this vision is encouraging private vehicle users to choose modes of transport other than their cars.

WA Transport Department metropolitan transport executive director Emerson Richardson said that, although many people were reluctant to leave their cars behind, the trend toward public transport already had started.

This was evident in recent statistics that indicated the number of journeys on Transperth buses had increased by 7.2 per cent in an eight-month period to February this year.

Of particular success was the introduction of the high-frequency 900 series bus service from Mandurah and Rockingham to Fremantle, where passenger numbers grew by a dramatic 45.1 per cent.

In the same period, train journeys have increased by 4.5 per cent and ferry journeys by 16.3 per cent.

Minister responsible for Transperth, Michelle Roberts, said the figures were encouraging and could be attributed to the improvement and expansion of the public transport system.

“People are also realising that using the network is a convenient way to get around, and the rising cost of petrol is making people reconsider driving their car,” she said.

Mr Richardson said that, along with educating people about public transport, different measures had been taken to relieve the pressure on Perth’s main roads.

“The Travel Smart program is used in suburbs surrounding Perth and is about providing more information to people on alternative forms of transport, whether that be buses, cycling or walking,” he said.

“In suburbs where the information was distributed we achieved a 14 per cent decrease in the number of people using their cars, a 35 per cent increase in the number of people walking, a 61 per cent increase in the number of people cycling and a 17 per cent increase in the number of people using public transport.

“But there are other ways to control traffic, such as the reallocation of road space and parking management.”

Mr Richardson said a good example of how the reallocation of road space had worked was the widening of footpaths of Barrack, Pier and Murray Streets in the city.

“The number of cars flowing per day through those streets has been reduced from 23,000 to 8000,” he said.

City of Perth Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass agreed that parking management played an important role was important in keeping traffic under control.

“We have a situation in the city where we want to encourage shopper parking, to bring people into the city, but at the same time we do not want to do anything to encourage commuter parking,” Dr Nattrass said.

“It is a fine balance we have between car parking for convenience and car parking that will simply clutter our streets.

“What we want to do is establish peripheral car parking, where commuters can park and then catch the free Central Area Transport buses into the city.”

Dr Nattrass said the city also was considering the introduction of a program that would allow cheaper parking for people choosing to form carpools.

“This program should encourage people to bring more than themselves into the city,” he said.

Mr Richardson said the provision of alternative routes to divert traffic from areas under high pressure also was important.

The Graham Farmer Freeway had successfully diverted much traffic from Riverside Drive and Wellington Streets, while the duplication of the Narrows Bridge and widening of the Causeway would result in a smoother traffic flow between northern and southern suburbs.

But these road projects were not built exclusively for private cars, Main Roads spokesman Dean Roberts said.

“New pieces of road infrastructure are also aimed at incorporating strategies to increase the frequency of public transport,” he said.

“For example, the Causeway was configured to include bus lanes … and there is a bus transitway which runs down the Kwinana Freeway to Murdoch.

“It is clear we will be looking more at ways to further incorporate rail and bus lanes into our road system.”

Intelligent Transport Systems Australia executive director Brent Stafford said the transport industry would undergo a revolution in the coming decade.

“As people become more concerned about the number of cars polluting the air, there will be measures to limit the number of cars on roads,” he said.

“This could be done by introducing tolling, such as that seen in Sydney.

“Transport authorities will increasingly start looking at ways to assist and promote the Park ‘n’ Ride facilities.”

Mr Stafford said commuters that did not need a vehicle during the workday would be the ones targeted.

“What transport authorities will be doing is saying to these people, you don’t use your car during the day, what can we do to get you on buses and trains?” he said.

And those who needed to use private vehicles would be asked to clean them up, he sugegsted.

“Smokey vehicle cameras, operating on the same principal as red-light cameras, could become an option,” Mr Stafford said.

“Hybrid electric cars will also be encouraged in the future.”

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