Public transport needs revision within most Australian cities to realize the goal of a fossil fuel free, sustainable future. Enhanced public transport reduces demand for cars on the road and helps to support the change from today’s fossil fuel dominance to a new culture of enlightened transport. This need for change is something already recognized by the federal government statutory body; Infrastructure Australia.
“Connecting centres and facilities with well targeted, reliable, high frequency, low cost, integrated active and public transport networks can provide greater accessibility options for urban populations. Placing a priority on non-car transportation systems and networks, such as public transport and active transport, is an important step in achieving better productivity, sustainability and liveability objectives.”, Our Cities National Urban Policy Paper 2011
They have recommended a substantial investment in providing greatly improved public transport and cycling facilities in every Australian city. This investment includes only maintenance and improvement of road efficiencies in favour of investing in public transport infrastructure to support a sustainable energy future. As noted in the above study, the kind of incremental change that has been applied to public transport infrastructure in the past will not be enough anymore; transformational change is required. This means in practice that our train, tram and bus systems must be extended and upgraded to provide a remarkably improved service.
Features of this service would include:
- Clean and maintained vehicles, stations and facilities across every city.
- Twenty four hour service on a regular basis that requires no timetable.
- Every x minutes another vehicle will come, the distance between transports can change during the day to accommodate known peaks and troughs.
- The aim is to over service and provide a less crowded experience
- Easy connections between transport modes.
- Closer conjunction of train, tram and bus stops. Could be tunnels or overpasses from stations to tramways and bus stops.
- Personal Safety on every journey.
- Staff presence at train stations.
- Roaming conductors on trams and buses who also serve to assist passengers.
- Cater for different train commuters and purposes;
- Bicycle carriages on trains. A technical evaluation has already been carried out in Victoria, this should be extended around the country to all services. European countries such as Holland have already implemented very successful programs.
- Business commuters who need more space and a small table to work on longer journeys
- Quiet carriages. These are already being implemented in NSW and Victoria.
- Add another mode of transport – fixed route electric shuttle buses
- In many cities shuttle buses run along set routes that pickup and drop off people wherever they want. Across Russia and the ex-soviet countries, they are called marshrutka, in Indonesia they are called Angkot (ANGkutan KOTa or ‘city transportation’) and they exist in different forms across many countries. In China they have many form factors and are often used as transport around large university campuses and at tourist locations.
- They follow a fixed route, often in a loop and including other public transport stations to provide an easy connection.
- i. An enhanced option would be to run a scheduled service with door to door service for people with mobility problems. The shuttle bus would pick up multiple people from a location in the service area and transport them to the desired destination; home, shopping centre, etc.
- Each passenger pays a set fee to the driver, often paid as you exit the vehicle.
- This simple form of transport fills the gaps between taxis, buses and walking. Where most people do not want to pay a full taxi fare for short trip, buses often do not get close enough to their houses and it may be too far to walk with shopping or a bag.
- This would provide a large number of low skilled jobs for many people across every city.
- This would mean less need for personal vehicles in many areas.
- This service has operated successfully since the late 70s in eastern Melbourne under the name ‘Telebus’. It offers both fixed route services with marked stops and door to door services for an additional charge. It is integrated with the city’s ‘Myki’ transport payment card system.
InterCity – Long Distance
Electric trains must replace long distance trucks. We should use the current tracks for constant low speed electric freight trains and build new high speed electric transport for both people and rapid freight. The government has already completed two phases of the study into building high speed rail infrastructure to connect Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide with various regional centres. This estimates the cost of the total network at over AUD$110 billion and suggests it will take decades to execute. This kind of national infrastructure project is exactly what Australia needs to keep our population employed.
Beyond Zero Emissions have more recently released their independent study of a high speed rail system and provide more support for a renewable energy powered solution to the nation’s transport problems.
“45% of Australian regional travel is contained within the proposed High Speed Rail network corridor
Domestic regional travel in Australia is highly concentrated in the corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane. In 2010 Australian passengers travelled 145 billion kilometres across the country, 65 billion were within the corridor approximately 100km either side of the proposed High Speed Rail line.
Journey times less than three hours from the centre of Sydney CBD, to the CBD of Melbourne or Brisbane
Both express and stopping trains are proposed for the High Speed Rail network. Express trains will take less than three hours to travel from Sydney to both Melbourne and Brisbane. To travel the full length of the corridor, from Melbourne to Brisbane, will take around 5 hours and 56 minutes.
60% of Australian population within 50km of a High Speed Rail station on proposed network
The proposed High Speed Rail network features a station less than one hour from 12.5 million Australian residents.
Over three times more passengers are expected to travel by HSR than air within the east coast corridor in 2030
68 million passengers are expected to travel by HSR in the year 2030, compared to 20 million by air (down from 55 million in 2010).
100% renewable energy powered HSR allows zero emissions journeys
The proposed HSR network can be powered by 100% renewable energy. This will allow passengers
the choice of travelling with zero emissions for journeys that are appropriate to substitute with HSR. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from regional travel would be reduced by 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over 40 years of operation compared with business-as-usual. Emissions created from the HSR construction would be offset after 5 years.
$84 billion total estimated construction cost including rolling stock, project management and contingency
Melbourne-Sydney is estimated to cost $40 billion, and Sydney-Brisbane $44 billion. Of this, $18 billion of the total estimated construction cost is required for entering the cities of Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane.
$7 billion estimated fare revenue when fully operational in 2030
The passenger demand estimated would generate $7 billion of gross operating revenue in the year 2030, with HSR fares priced cheaper than the equivalent average air fares. Operating costs are estimated to total $2.3 billion for the same year. The net operating profit is $4.6 billion.
40 year capital repayment from operating profits
The significant operating profits would allow repayment of the capital costs after 40 years of operation. This takes into account expected growth in passenger demand, with a 4% real discount rate on future cash flows.
1799km of High Speed Railway requiring 81km of tunnels (4.5%)and 98km of elevated sections (5.5%)
90% of the proposed HSR network is on track at ground level, in cuttings or on embankments. The alignment has been careful designed to balance the need for expensive infrastructure such as tunnels and bridges, with the need to limit impacts on people and the natural environment.
Internationally, comparable HSR projects have been delivered in less than 10 years.
HSR projects of similar or greater complexity have been competed in other countries in less than 10 years from commencing construction to beginning services. If Australia proceeds with HSR and achieves a similar pace of project delivery, the proposed network could be operational by 2025.”
(Zero Carbon Australia High Speed Rail Report)
Some further consideration should be made into possible savings in laying HVDC cables between remote renewable power generators, such as in Coopers Basin, and cities by performing the work at the same time. High speed rail would consume significant amounts of electricity, but this could easily be supplied by remotely placed renewable energy generators built for the purpose; or factored into the construction of the plants required to power our cities.
This would provide a fossil fuel free transport network for the majority of the country’s population. Some further consideration should be made on connecting Perth and Darwin to this system over time in order to make better use of these ports that are significantly closer to most of Asia.