From the Sydney Morning Herald.
Sydney transport ‘needs $1b a year’
- March 17, 2009 – 5:46PM
Public transport spending must increase by $1 billion a year if Sydney wants a world class transport network within three decades, a new report says.
A study by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has found Sydneysiders and the NSW Government spent more than $40 billion on cars in 2006, making them by far the most expensive form of transport in the city.
Almost $23 billion was spent on fuel, maintenance, depreciation, insurance, tolls and parking in 2006.
The city’s motorists generated a further $18.1 billion in “externality costs” such as congestion, pollution, accidents and subsidies for roads and parking.
Garry Glazebrook, author of the report on the study, published in the Urban Policy and Research Journal, said the NSW Government spent just $3 billion a year on public transport each year.
Dr Glazebrook said public transport spending would have to increase by at least one-third if Sydney was to have a world-class public transport system by 2040.
“We’re actually spending, in cold hard cash terms, $23 billion per year, plus we’re producing all these other externalities,” he said.
“If we switch out of the $23 billion and we switch $1 billion of that out of cars and into public transport, then within 30 years we would have a world-class public transport system.”
The study found that despite the high “visible cost” to the state treasury, the CityRail train network had the lowest overall cost per passenger kilometre of any of the major transport modes.
“The clear conclusion is that cars are in fact subsidised by society to levels similar to that of public transport when environmental and other externalities are considered,” he said.
Despite rail’s high capital cost, buses were “more expensive overall”, he said.
“Buses have lower capital costs but higher operating costs and often Treasury just looks at it in terms of big dollops of dollars for infrastructure that you need for rail systems rather than looking at the long-term costs,” Dr Glazebrook said.
“I think we’ve built our city around the car to some extent and I think it’s going to take a while to move away from it.”
A congestion tax, such as the recently introduced time-of-day tolling on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, could be effective if it was introduced in combination with building better transport alternatives, Dr Glazebrook said.
The cities of London, Singapore and Stockholm had successfully introduced congestion charges and encouraged people to switch to public transport.
“In the long term, it’s actually going to save us money as well as reducing environmental impacts,” he said.