Next stop suburbia: making shared transport work for everyone in aussie cities

08.07.24 By , , , and

We all want to live in cities with clean air and great public spaces, where we can move around in ways that suit our needs, and feel safe on our streets. Getting from A to B with ease means having a choice of convenient, frequent, reliable and affordable transport options that seamlessly connect us to work, school, friends, family and services. This includes great shared options – like electric public transport, rideshare and other on-demand transport – together with active options like bike-riding, using a wheelchair or walking.

At the moment, our car-centric transport system leaves too many Aussies with little choice in how to get around. For decades, governments have prioritised the use of private cars in transport planning and investment. Too often, this means people have no other way to get around. This is driving harmful climate pollution while also making our streets more congested, dangerous and polluted. Australian families are paying more than they should for petrol and maintenance costs, particularly in the outer suburbs of our biggest cities where people often have to drive further and more often.

We can change this by stepping up the availability, frequency and reliability of shared and active transport. Greater uptake of electric vehicles is important, but by itself this won’t reduce climate pollution at the speed we need, nor deliver other benefits in improved safety and less traffic. Using shared and active transport for more trips, more often isn’t possible for many people because they don’t have access to transport that meets their needs.

Australians are clear that they want better transport options and more choice. In Climate Council polling, 80 percent of people said they wanted governments to invest more in public transport, and 67 percent wanted more investment in active transport infrastructure (Climate Council 2022). The lack of services and infrastructure is a key barrier to people across our big cities using these transport options more often.

This report provides recommendations for how governments can plan and invest public money better to put shared and active transport at the centre of transport delivery from now on. The benefits will be huge: we can help slash climate pollution this decade and deliver cleaner air, safer streets, more affordable ways of getting around, as well as more liveable cities with less congestion.

Key Findings

1. Our car-centric transport system is polluting our cities and our climate. It has left many of us in the lurch when it comes to alternatives, with only half of the 15 million Australians living in our five biggest cities having access to frequent, all-day public transport.

2. Too many people living in Australia’s largest capital cities lack access to convenient, frequent and reliable public transport, so they are stuck relying on expensive and polluting private cars.

3. With the right infrastructure and services in place, we can make shared and active transport more attractive for more Australians, cut climate pollution further and faster this decade, and create safer, cleaner streets.

4. Governments at all levels should plan and invest in infrastructure and services that enable more Australians to choose cleaner, cheaper transport options more often.