More Roads Not the Answer to Traffic Following Changing Commuter Attitudes

A sustainability expert claims introducing more roads to reduce traffic congestion is not the answer, following a report revealing more commuters are reconsidering their daily travel to work because of gridlock.

Curtin University Professor Peter Newman said adding more roads did not fix traffic problems and could be solved by making cities more appealing for transport modes other than cars.

“They don’t solve anything,” Professor Newman said of introducing more lanes to roads.

“It’s very hard to fix because as soon as you put in some more lanes of road or something, they fill immediately.”

He said high population areas such as the Perth CBD “have to get rid of cars” to alleviate the problem.

“You don’t try and solve it by allowing more traffic which is the road engineers solution, you solve it by making it more attractive for walking, cycling and public transport.”

Professor Newman, who said he had been studying traffic for 30 or 40 years”, said people needed more attractive options to get to leave their cars at home, citing advancements to public transport.

“The experts say ‘ah you’ll never get people out of their cars.’ But once we had an option that was faster than cars, people loved it,” he said.

“People in Perth will get out of their car given half a chance.”

More Reconsidering Commute to Avoid Congestion: Report
Transport company Here Technologies report released on Thursday found 63 per cent of daily commuters across Australia were rethinking their daily travel because of traffic congestion.

The survey of 1260 people across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide showed 71.8 per cent wanted to change their trip to work to help cut traffic.

25 per cent wanted to avoid congestion by adapting their working hours by starting work earlier or leaving work later to avoid congestion.

However, while 28.5 per cent of commuters said they were using public transport more than before, 35 per cent believed public transport in their city was either too unreliable or expensive.

Public Transport the “Best Answer”
The Public Transport Authority has refuted claims that public transport was unreliable.

“The best answer and most consistent, most reliable answer for congestion is public transport,” spokesman David Hynes said.

He said Perth public transport users were happy with the service.

“We run tracking research and have been doing so for about 25 years for a very well recognised independent survey company. And that tells us that our passengers, 90 per cent of our passengers are either satisfied or very satisfied,” he said.

Professor Newman said autonomous vehicles could become part of the mass transport system after the report revealed 19.8 per cent of Perth respondents open to change were receptive to the idea.

He said autonomous “trackless trams”, currently under State Government consideration, were a “game changer” if implemented.

“These are autonomous buses, linked together into a convoy that follows a track down a road that’s set with a magnetic strip,” he said.a

“It can carry 300 people, 70 kilometres an hour, its electric, quiet, beautiful, like a tram.”

Opposition Claims Dropping Numbers of People Using Public Transport
However, the State Opposition is sceptical of the McGowan Governments public transport plans including Metronet, over allegedly falling numbers of public transport users.

“What they need to do is understand why it is public transport figures are declining so rapidly,” opposition transport spokesperson Liza Harvey said.

Main Roads believes all options need to be considered to reduce congestion.

“There is no single, simple solution to define or address the problem,” it said in a statement.

“A coordinated and effective response requires the Transport Portfolio to both invest in new infrastructure and optimise the performance of Perth’s existing transport network.”

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