Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughtful Canberra Times editorial on transport and society

There is an outstanding editorial in todays Canberra Times. Titled 'Public Transport a safe investment', it talks about cultural attitudes to public transport, the increased car-centric society we are creating, and the cost this takes on us as individuals. It also examines the ongoing cost of a driver-centric society.

The Canberra Times has not been terribly pro-public transport in the past, with the odd journo writing very good articles, but a general anti-public transport and definitely anti-ACTION slant reflected in its editorials. Todays editorial therefore is a pleasant surprise, and I hope leads to a permanent shift in the way that the nations capital journal of record covers public transport.

I urge you to read it.

A few interesting quotes from the article:

  • We created a car-dependent city that, in hindsight, we would have done better to avoid.
  • 25 years ago, four in five Canberra schoolchildren either walked or cycled to school. Today, four in five are driven, by their parents, directly to the school gates.
  • The widespread use of cars comes with growing direct and indirect costs to taxpayers. Governments must continually build new roads and maintain existing ones as they deteriorate.
  • the federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates congestion losses in Australia will amount to more than $20 billion a year by 2020.
  • Cars are a far costlier habit than most of us realise, because we never see a bill that lists their true price.
  • census data also shows that the number of cars per household has climbed steadily for decades, as we opt increasingly to drive, rather than walk, to our work, local shops and social events.
  • The ACT Government allocates less than 3c on public transport for every dollar it spends.
  • we need to change our way of thinking about projects such as better bus networks, cycling facilities and even light rail. We see them as costs, when they might actually represent valuable returns on investment; weapons against our sedentary culture.

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