Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Growing public transport use has little effect on overall car travel demands

I am surprised at the modest impact that the surge in growth in public transport demands in Melbourne has such a low impact on the overall use of car for travel:

‘Census data to be released this month reveals that public transport use has increased only marginally as a share of all trips to work, up from just over 13% in 2001 to almost 14% last year. That is despite the number of people using public transport rising almost 17%, including a 20% rise in train patronage.’
Car travel is still growing faster than any other mode of travel. It might well be an instance of modal convergence – when some travelers stop using their cars because of increased congestion, taxes on parking spots and petrol costs overall levels of road travel costs decline releasing previously latent demands for car travel. It would be interesting to assess specific congestion impacts.

This reinforces my long held conviction on the case for road congestion charges in Melbourne. Only pricing roads eliminates these types of convergence developments that are associated with development of supply alternatives to car travel. The Business Council of Australia have recently also endorsed a case for such charges.

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