Massive infrastructure projects have been announced for South East Queensland to reduce congestion to and from Brisbane and surrounding regions. While improving upon the current infrastructure is a vital solution in the long term with a growing population and urban expansion, there is a much simpler, and much cheaper, solution for the short term problem of congestion: public transport.
The obvious cause of congestion and gridlock (especially during peak hours and, from my experience, the Brisbane CBD and surrounds) is the number of vehicles on the road. The next question is why there are so many vehicles, and the answer to that is quite simple – public transport is not at the level it should be. Where I live, buses and trains into the city are every half an hour (this interval is shorter in peak hour times). While I make plans around the bus timetables, not everyone does or can because it’s not always the most convenient mode of transportation. It is quicker to drive into the city than it is to take the bus or train (especially when you need to take a second connecting bus to reach your destination).
Rather than spending billions on widening the roads to accommodate more cars, therefore just prolonging further congestion, it would be more prudent to invest some of that money in planning more bus and train services and increasing the frequency of them. Taking the bus from my place into the city would be much more attractive if there were regular services that ran express into the city at a certain point, rather than having to jump to the connecting service to complete the journey. Again, while this does happen in peak hour times, there are a number of commuters in the SEQ region that, during the day, would no longer need to drive but instead take public transport. Another incentive would be making public transport free for everyone. As I understand it, it is already heavily subsidised, but as with the convenience aspect there would be a number of people who are unwilling to pay for it (ironic, considering they then have to pay for fuel which is notably more expensive anyway).
The second bird hit by this ideal public transport blitz is the environment. The reason I take the bus, even to the shops nearby, rather than drive is partly because it’s one less car being driven on the road – less traffic, less environmental impact. A small impact, for sure, but if the many thousands of cars that travel at any given time in SEQ daily were unnecessary, it would build up considerably.
By all means, investment in major infrastructure projects should be undertaken for the long term issues of higher density and higher population, but it needs to be done concomitantly with investment in enhancing public transport solutions as well. That will help lower congestion and environmental impact due the decrease in vehicles on the roads.
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