December 13, 2012
Peter Mares in Can we afford to get back on the rails? at Inside Story mentions that Adelaide, unlike the other capital cities has made no significant investment in rail and, as a result, Adelaide’s passenger numbers are still below ten million. These are the same numbers as the early 1990s.Adelaide is a car city, even more so than a congested Sydney; and despite the return to a small light rail network, Adelaide is “Australia’s car capital”.
Light rail is the key to moving people quickly and easily around the city, especially when the single family home on a large suburban block looks to be a thing of the past. The young "creative class," eschew the car-centric, big-yard suburban lifestyle of their parents. But the parents – "empty nesters"----are also showing a preference for living downtown.
Buses and traffic lights were seen to be the answer to the congestion of the city caused by the car, which had been accommodated in the past by increasing the space between buildings for roads. The bus was a mild shift away from the car, but it still worked within a model of the city being an engineering one of networks and vehicles. Cities being about people was an alien concept. The suburbs were about people.
In their Transport Policy at the Crossroads: Travel to work in Australian capital cities 1976-2011, Dr Paul Mees and Dr Lucy Groenhart, from RMIT’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, say that there has been a revival in public transport at the expense of cars, despite receiving relatively little policy support. The revival is largely due to the growth in train travel which offers a genuine solution to the serious congestion and environmental problems faced by Australia's capital cities.