Home' Horizons : February-March 2012 Contents "But we also need to recognise
as a government and a community
that you just can't keep making
roads wider. There's only
a finite capacity to expand
Mr Buswell said Perth's
population and freight needs were
growing, which would continue to
put pressure on roads.
"The big challenge is to make
sure we cope with growth, and
that means making sure congestion
doesn't worsen as the population
grows. That's a big challenge in
cities around the world," he said.
"We have to make sure that
one of the byproducts of the
growth of our city is not levels of
congestion that are unacceptable."
Mr Buswell said the Government
was working through planning
and transport strategies to build
a better freight, transport, cycling
and public transport system. Once
the planning processes were right,
infrastructure would follow.
One plan that could go some
way to addressing congestion
is described as a 'smart
infrastructure' strategy, due to be
announced this year.
"To me, the smart infrastructure
strategy is a very important
strategy in terms of the long-term
development of the metropolitan
road network," Mr Buswell said.
"Modern cars have amazing
computing power on board; we
have an amazing capacity to gather
"We're putting in place the
communication backbone that
will allow us to communicate that
information to the vehicle. I'm
sure that in years to come, cars
will interact with the infrastructure
about how they use the road
network in real time.
'We need to be positioning
ourselves to that."
An alternative approach to
congestion is to tackle the
demand end of the equation.
One way of doing this is by
making it more expensive to
license cars in cities, rationing
the use of roads or introducing
congestion charges that discourage
people in peak periods.
But there seems little interest in
introducing such systems to Perth's
Mr Buswell said he had seen
models like the dynamic road
charging used in Singapore, which
applies a range of costs to make
driving more expensive to keep
congestion in check, as well as
models using congestion charges.
"These things do happen
elsewhere in the world but it
isn't something we're considering,"
Mr Shanahan said RAC members
are also unconvinced, with 58 per
cent opposing congestion charging
in a recent survey.
Instead, he said the State
Government could reduce
demand by bringing forward
construction of a number of
public transport projects it has
planned, but not scheduled to
begin for 10 years or more, and
commit to funding them.
"We've seen a very high-level
strategy for improved public
transport but we're yet to see a
single dollar attached to any of
those projects. From our point
of view a congestion charge is an
interesting policy debate, but the
first priority is for governments
to make investment in public
transport," Mr Shanahan said.
"If people have a genuine
alternative in efficient public
transport and they're stuck in
congested traffic, they'll make the
switch themselves. They don't
need to be taxed to do that."
Shadow Transport spokesman
Ken Travers believes the State
Government is underestimating
the likely population growth in
WA. With new people will come
greater demand for car use.
"They're not getting on with
things -- at this stage there's no real
commitment to public transport in
Perth and in my mind that's
a disaster," he said.
"The major strategy for tackling
congestion during peak hour is
better public transport. We can
never build the road system in the
inner-city area to be able to take
all the traffic."
Mr Travers said Labor believed
work could start immediately
on a 5.7km light rail project
to connect East and West
Perth, part-funded by funds
accumulating in the Perth Parking
Further light rail development
would then connect the city to
hubs like Mirrabooka and Morley.
The State Government's
recently released Public Transport
Plan for Perth 2031 includes plans
for light rail, starting with projects
to link Curtin, Edith Cowan
University in Mount Lawley and
UWA with the city. The proposed
timeframe is described as "before
But Mr Travers said the money is
available to start now.
"Let's get on with building the
light rail network from East Perth
to West Perth today," he said.
"The money is just sitting in the
fund collecting interest, and that
could be used now to pay for light
rail that could be used as the basis
of a bigger network.
"Building better public transport
is the cheapest way for us to
move forward and build a stronger
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