Transport planning for Perth is at the crossroads, according to a discussion paper released today by Transport Minister Pam Beggs.
`The Transport Challenge' says the trends of the past few decades towards greater car dependence are no longer economically or environmentally sustainable.
The paper is one of a series being published in the lead-up to the City Challenge Conference to be held in Perth next week (September 8-10). Already more than 200 people have registered for the conference which will examine a wide range of issues affecting the future shape of the city.
`The Transport Challenge' points out Perth's status as the city with the highest level of car ownership in Australia and says that this heavy car focus is no longer sustainable.
In releasing the paper Mrs Beggs emphasised that transport issues have to be seen as an important part of a mix of issues: "We cannot isolate transport systems in the city as somehow `standing apart'," she said.
Mrs Beggs said the City Challenge Conference offered an excellent opportunity for Western Australians to hear the views of national and international experts on these issues.
"Changes to our way of living, particularly a change as important as that proposed by `The Transport Challenge', should be undertaken with the best information before us," she said.
`The Transport Challenge' also examines WA-wide transport. The State's size and dependence on commodities from outside Perth have meant transport has always been vital.
"But this importance is growing further with the sector expanding three times faster than the rest of the economy in 1990-91," Mrs Beggs said.
The paper predicts that if the current trend of car dependency and individual car travel continues, the metropolitan road system could become unworkable. Without a change in this strategy, researchers say that within a decade the peak hour trip across the Narrows Bridge into the city could increase from 30 minutes to two hours.
To avoid this situation, greater attention has to be paid to public transport. In particular it highlights the greater use we could be making of the river and ferry transportation as well as improving and extending buses and rail services.
The paper also discusses improving cycling and pedestrian facilities as important ways of cutting the build-up in car numbers.
Aside from transport issues which directly affect Perth, `The Transport Challenge' also addresses various general subjects:
· regional access;
· land freight reform;
· waterfront reform;
· environment/quality of life.
`The Transport Challenge' is the third discussion paper in the City Challenge series. Planning and Housing papers have already been released. Advance copies of `The Transport Challenge' are available from the Government Media Office, 17th floor, 197 St George's Terrace, Perth - telephone 222 9595.