With Sydney’s population expected to grow to around 8 million people by 2056, we need to find new ways to address road congestion and crowding on our public transport services.
Sydney’s present road congestion and use of public transport is growing, placing pressure on the city’s liveability, productivity and environment.
New roads and transport links
We have responded to congestion and crowding by building new transport infrastructure such as the Sydney North West Metro train line plus Northconnex and Westconnex.
However, with many parts of Sydney densely developed and populated, it’s challenging to build new infrastructure without major financial costs and disruptions to communities.
There are four broad approaches that in combination could be highly effective in complementing new transport infrastructure. These are:
- Optimising the existing transport network
- Managing traffic in real time
- Introducing flexible public transport services
- Planning transport with jobs and homes
- Encouraging behaviour change
Prioritising public transport
By moving more people in fewer vehicles, public transport makes much more efficient use of road space than private vehicles. Buses are already prioritised on many roads using bus lanes, T-Ways, B-Line infrastructure, and bus-only green lights at traffic signals.
Prioritising freight vehicles
Approximately 9% of traffic on Greater Sydney’s motorways and arterial roads are heavy vehicles with a further 15% made up of light commercial vehicles.
By giving priority to freight vehicles on specific roads at set times of the day, this could reduce the cost and delivery times of everyday goods.
One of the Premier’s Innovation Initiatives on congestion has seen us partner with Australian company, Cohda Wireless, to trial connected vehicle technology which gives trucks priority at traffic signals with the aim of reducing travel times and improving traffic flow.
Managing traffic in real-time
Work has commenced on the M4 Smart Motorway project to introduce intelligent technology, known as a Smart Motorway system. This program will use real-time information, communication and traffic management tools to provide a safer, smoother and more reliable journey.
Introducing flexible public transport
Most public transport today operates to a fixed timetable along fixed routes. But flexible public transport that is allocated to areas of greatest demand could offer a more dynamic service. For example, by using real-time traffic and customer demand data we could allocate buses to where they are most needed at any given time.
This year we will be funding a number of flexible transport pilot programs. The outcomes will guide us on how flexible public transport could be delivered in NSW.
Planning transport with jobs and homes
We can minimise public transport crowding and road congestion by planning homes and jobs closer together with transport services. We can also locate more development near existing transport services by changing zoning laws to allow for higher density development.
The Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Corridor will provide new higher density development in precincts along Parramatta Road close to public transport services so people can access transport more easily.
Encouraging behaviour change
By global standards, Sydney relies heavily on private vehicles. Our challenge is to continue the increase in public transport and other alternatives such as walking and cycling.
Together these behaviour changes, known as the four R’s, can improve the efficiency of our transport network:
Reduce — consolidate or replace journeys by using technology or carpooling.
Remode — change mode of transport particularly from single occupancy car trips to public transport, cycling and walking.
Retime — travel in off-peak periods to avoid congested roads or public transport.
Reroute — use alternative, less congested routes by keeping up to date of transport conditions.
Increasing the number of people travelling per vehicle
Private vehicles account for about 70% of all weekday trips in Greater Sydney. On average, private vehicles travelling to work carry about 1.1 people per vehicle. The empty seats in these private vehicles represent a large amount of unused capacity on our roads.
Ridesharing companies are using their booking services to match customers going in the same direction, carpooling now has the potential to make a significant impact on congestion.
Car sharing services like GoGet and Hertz 24/7 are becoming popular alternatives to car ownership.
A VISION FOR THE 30 Minute City
The 30 minute city is a concept where people have a daily average travel time budget of 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. This approach reflects what people want and what planners can strategically aim for when considering land use and transport for the future.
To enhance city transport outcomes, we will need to shift from a focus on a single Sydney CBD in the east and set out to connect people to two other cities – Parramatta City in the centre of Sydney and eventually a Western City around the new airport in Badgerys Creek.
Greater Sydney Commission proposed vision of Sydney as three cities — an essential part of becoming a 30 minute city.
To make Sydney a 30 minute city, we are working with the Greater Sydney Commission to create a transport network that provides access to jobs, services and everyday needs, such as health and education services, or larger shopping centres.
The 30 minute city relies on more people using public transport as an alternative to private vehicles and reducing traffic congestion.
We will also need a network of interchanges that allow people to access services easily, plus move quickly and safely from one mode of transport to the next.
Join the discussion
Learn more about the seven megatrends that are affecting transport across the world.Read More
Discover how we balance the needs of people with the needs of moving people and freight.Read More
Learn more and share your feedback on key issues affecting transport in Sydney and throughout NSW.Read more