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Transport habits under microscope

A RESEARCH project costing more than $1 million will study the effects of transit-oriented develop-ment (TOD) in areas next to the Perth-Mandurah railway. Supported by a $394,000 Australian Research Council grant and funding from 11 project partners – including state and local government agencies and The Village at Wellard, joint venture partners Peet & Co and LandStart – the study will commence later this year and be completed in 2009. Researchers affiliated with the Planning and Transport Research Centre based at Curtin University of Technology will undertake the study. Residents and commuters will be surveyed by the PATREC research-ers to determine how the new rail service is affecting the travel habits of people living near the new stations. PATREC executive director Fred Affleck said the researchers would look at the extent to which daily activities involving transport were influenced by TOD. “We’re particularly keen to see if journeys by car are replaced with a combination of public transport and walking or cycling, and how activities like shopping and leisure pursuits are influenced by transit-oriented development,” Professor Affleck said. “We also want to know if the improved access to public transport is increasing the economic activity and employment in those areas.” The project will involve close collab-oration with 11 partner organisations, including The Village at Wellard joint venture partners, LandCorp, the Depart-ment of Planning and Infrastructure, the WA Public Transport Authority, the Subiaco, East Perth and Midland Redevelop-ment Authorities, and the Cockburn, Kwinana, Melville and Rockingham councils. TOD involves developing land for mixed use including residential, commercial, government and educational purposes at a higher than usual density in areas surrounding major transportation hubs such as train and bus stations. The Village at Wellard has been designed in this manner. Professor Affleck said while similar studies had been conducted in the US, as far as his centre was aware no comparable project had been undertaken in Australia. “Evidence from elsewhere suggests that there is a positive impact on the use of public transport,” he said. Surveys will be held immediately prior to and after the rail line being laid down. “Australian cities, and in particular Perth, tend to be designed in an extremely low-density manner. Therefore, people’s attitudes towards the concept should be different,” Professor Affleck said. The Federal Government ARC grant is to be administered by the University of WA and the project undertaken by a team of researchers drawn from Curtin, UWA and Edith Cowan University. A commitment of $300,000 cash and $330,000 of in-kind support has been made by the 11 project partners.

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