Community Update: WestConnex, North East Link and the Future of Public Transport

A study conducted by Visa titled “The Future of Transportation: Mobility in the Age of the Megacity” shows that out of 19 countries, Australia is the country with the highest reliance on vehicle transportation in the world. An astonishing 72% of the population use their cars to get to and from work, school or university, or just to run errands. When questioned about public transport, a majority of people responded positively to using public transport, if it were only easier to navigate and use.

The biggest issues with public transport is the difficulty experienced with long lines, little to no knowledge of the ticket pricing, and multiple tickets for the different modes of transportation.

The Visa Head of Product, Axel Boye-Moller, and Roads Australia President, David Stuart-Watt, both mention that the growth and continued success of the Australian economy hangs in how public transport will innovate and continually improve technologically. Mr Stuart-Watt has also spoken about how other countries, such as Japan and Singapore have a significant head start on transportation services in their respective countries. Australia is an entire generation behind these continually evolving transportation services, which may hinder the future growth.

However, it’s not just about public transport changes, improving the roads to include future technologies such as autonomous and ridesharing vehicles will also drastically improve Australia’s quality of life. The coming of major road projects such as the Sydney Westconnex and Melbourne’s North East Link will certainly help decrease the amount of traffic.

Unfortunately, the Sydney Westconnex project that was estimated to be completed in 2019, has since been pushed back to a 2020 opening. The changing opening dates have frustrated many Sydney residents since the beginning of the project. The project has been in the works since August 2017 and Sydney residents have argued that construction has increased traffic congestion by bringing trucks through smaller suburbs.

While the North East Link is going to begin work in Melbourne in 2020, there are still mixed reviews on how this will affect nearby residents. The project will consist of 20 lanes on the freeway, making it one of the widest stretches of road in the world. Dot Haynes, Manningham Councillor has expressed that the noise levels would be too much for residents, and that “you will not be able to build a wall high enough to stop that level of noise reaching houses”. The upside to the project is that at least 100,000 vehicles will be able to use the freeway each day, making it the busiest so far. Construction is estimated to create over 10,000 jobs as well, which may outweigh a few cons.

It’s true that Australian public transport is a little behind in comparison to other countries, however there are improvements on the way that may change the current situation of Australia’s public transport and road systems.