Why the need for speed? Transport spending priorities leave city residents worse off

Australian governments are set to spend more on transport infrastructure than ever before. Federal and state infrastructure spending, driven largely by transport projects, was expected to total $31.6 billion in 2018, increasing to $38 billion in 2021, even before the latest Commonwealth spending announcements. Will all this construction make it easier for us to get around, our journeys more enjoyable, or our cities more liveable for a growing population?

Since the 1950s, spending on transport infrastructure has largely been justified on the basis of its ability to increase travel speeds or reduce travel times. For example, the New South Wales government estimates its $17 billion WestConnex toll road will deliver travel time savings motorists would value at about $13 billion. But new tolls will largely cancel out any benefit. This means the ultimate beneficiary will be the toll road corporations.

Australian governments are set to spend more on transport infrastructure than ever before. Federal and state infrastructure spending, driven largely by transport projects, was expected to total $31.6 billion in 2018, increasing to $38 billion in 2021, even before the latest Commonwealth spending announcements. Will all this construction make it easier for us to get around, our journeys more enjoyable, or our cities more liveable for a growing population?

Since the 1950s, spending on transport infrastructure has largely been justified on the basis of its ability to increase travel speeds or reduce travel times. For example, the New South Wales government estimates its $17 billion WestConnex toll road will deliver travel time savings motorists would value at about $13 billion. But new tolls will largely cancel out any benefit. This means the ultimate beneficiary will be the toll road corporations.

Rethinking the need for speed

The need for speed is being questioned in other aspects of modern life. The Slow Food Movement urges us to savour and enjoy our meal times, rather than view eating as an unwelcome interruption to our busy days.

For my PhD research, I asked a similar question of our travel time. What if it’s seen not only as a cost to be minimised, but as valuable time that can be used to work, exercise or relax?

It’s important to note that average daily travel times don’t decline no matter how much is spent on transport infrastructure. How then can investment be prioritised to make our travel time more enjoyable and productive, while at the same time improving access to economic and social opportunities?

Originally Published by The Conversation, continue reading here.

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K2K: Integrating Infrastructure Delivery with Urban Planning

Mrs Stella Agagiotis, Coordinator Strategic Planning at Randwick City Council will be joining us this November at the 2017 International Urban Design Conference, discussing “K2K: Integrating Infrastructure Delivery with Urban Planning”.

Kensington and Kingsford town centres in Sydney’s East are undergoing major transformation with the Sydney CBD to South East Light Rail under construction, scheduled to open in 2019. Not only will this new transport infrastructure be a key driver of population growth, but it will also create opportunities for public domain improvements that will shape the character and function of both town centres.

Randwick City Council has undertaken an innovative and proactive approach to managing both short and long term change and planning for the future of the two centres, recognising that the precinct can benefit from having greater accessibility and planning for improvements to local infrastructure, urban design excellence, sustainability, innovation, new public spaces, green streets and buildings and diverse and affordable housing.

In the short term, collaboration between Council and the NSW Government has delivered temporary public domain interventions (such as Meeks St Plaza and a creative public art program) to improve the public domain and support the local economy during construction of the light rail.

To address the corridor’s long term planning needs, a strategic vision has been established through an International Urban Design Competition that called for fresh ideas to enhance the community’s quality of life, create sustainable growth and drive economic prosperity.

The design competition process, which recently won the Greater Sydney Commission’s inaugural award in 2017 for “A Great Plan”, was undertaken with a high degree of community participation ensuring that outcomes would reflect local aspirations for the town centres.

Council’s bold planning and consultation process has established a best practice approach to integrating infrastructure delivery with urban planning to create well-designed and liveable places.

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017. This year there are optional tours available on Wednesday 15 November. These will include visiting two of the precincts that have been designed and built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in April 2018.

Find out more here.