1381.0 - Research Paper: A Review of Regional Development Australia Committee Regional Plans, 2013  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/03/2013  First Issue
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Image: Transport Infrastructure word cloud

Fifty-four of the 56 RDA committees recognised issues associated with transport infrastructure. These issues can be divided into three categories: public transport, road and rail.

6.1.1 Public Transport

Most RDA committees (48) reported issues with their public transport system. In many regions, RDA committees reported a lack of reliable, efficient and affordable public transport options and limited services in many areas. Common issues were a lack of public transport connecting workers to employment nodes and limited fast metropolitan commuter options, particularly for residents in outer suburbs. A lack of public transport in rural areas was a significant concern in some regions. It was reported that poor or non-existent public transport exacerbated the experience of social isolation and inequality in accessing health care and education in rural and remote communities.

Under-utilisation of public transport was an issue raised by RDA committees in several regions. They reported the need to increase the use of public transport to reduce private vehicle use, traffic congestion and greenhouse emissions. Other issues included the need to improve access for the elderly and disabled, increase services in areas of high population growth and enhance planning and investment in public transport.

6.1.2 Road

A poor standard of road networks was reported by 45 RDA committees. Several committees reported that major road upgrades were needed to accommodate increased freight, which was causing significant deterioration of roads not suited for heavy vehicles. Freight constraints, including poor road condition, narrow bridges with low weight limits and a lack of heavy vehicle bypass routes, were frequently cited as a barrier to industrial growth. Poor transport connectivity was commonly reported, including the need for better linkages to employment centres and access to ports.

Many RDA committees, especially those in the urban centres of Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Northern Melbourne, Melbourne East and Perth, identified issues such as decreased quality of life and productivity associated with traffic congestion, particularly at peak times and along key commuter routes. Other road issues identified by RDA committees included the need for quality arterial roads, the poor condition of unsealed roads and a reliance on one main transport corridor, which caused disruptions during road accidents and maintenance.

6.1.3 Rail

RDA committees in 37 regions identified issues relating to train and rail transport. The poor and deteriorating condition of rail lines and a lack of rail connections to many towns were commonly reported. Several regions reported the need to increase the use of rail freight to reduce reliance on roads. Many barriers to freight transportation by rail were also identified and included a lack of gauge standardisation, no connections to the National Interstate Rail Network, restricted speeds and congestion on single line networks. Some RDA committees reported the need for a very fast train connection between major cities and the need to improve the quality, frequency and reliability of passenger train services. A concern was raised by the Far North RDA in South Australia that increased freight movements could affect traffic flow and community safety due to the number and location of level crossings in Port Augusta (2011, p. 49).

6.1.4 Other transport issues

Other transport issues raised by RDA committees concerned the deficiencies of ports or airports. These issues included the need for a major trading port, the need to upgrade ports and congestion problems due to freight. For example, the Northern Territory RDA reported a need to upgrade its port facilities to service future growth in mining and agricultural exports (RDA Northern Territory, 2011, p.14). The need to expand regional airports and passenger services was also commonly expressed. RDA committees in several regions reported that air services in major centres had been reduced or removed and that the limited air services between regional centres was a significant barrier to tourism.