Sustainable Transport in Sustainable Cities
The Warren Centre initiated the Sustainable Transport in Sustainable Cities project in 1999 to address the deteriorating trend in the ability of people and freight to move around most major cities and the growing concerns over the environmental impact of transport. The project leaders elected to use Greater Metro Sydney as a case study.
Most commentators agreed that, if current trends continue, Sydney‟s current population of 4 million will increase to 5 million by 2020 and 6million by 2050 or earlier. This increase in population could see the demand for travel increase by more than 50 percent which would have to be borne by the already overloaded transport system.
The project was conducted as a strategic planning exercise. The first phase looked at the current situation and comparisons were made with many known best practices and comparisons with some world cities. The first phase was published as “The Way We Live” in 1999. The second phase looked at the way forward looking at a wide range of issues involving urban structure, transport technologies, economics, social issues, and the environment to name some key areas. The second phase report was entitled “Towards a City of Cities”.
Workshops, desk studies and the advice of overseas experts concluded that Sydney could not build its way out of the problems created by growth with more roads, more heavy railways and more buses alone. Using even the most optimistic projections for rail and bus transport, the best-case scenario would see only the maintenance of the present mode split of public to private car transport with consequent problems for “Access, Environment, Health, and The Economy”. Clearly, the old strategies of “bigger, wider and faster” were no longer applicable and radical changes in planning and policy were needed with the emphasis on Integration of Land-Use and Transport Planning. The inclusion of over 200 professionals from academia, industry and government and from all States of Australia and from USA, UK and Europe ensured that the work would not be insular and the results applicable in many locations.
Prior to drawing up the strategic areas requiring action plans the project highlighted some principles of required outcomes and key foci to achieve them:
- for individuals and communities there should be “Equitable Access to Everything”;
- solutions must enhance economic benefits to the region, protect the environment and protect social values;
- solutions must be adaptable but sustainable for Communities, the Environment and the Economy.
THE FINAL REPORT A ‘CITY OF CITIES’.
The key recommendations of the project related to:
- Restructuring Sydney as a „City of Cities‟ extending to Newcastle and Wollongong; each city being a centre for towns that are centres for villages.
- Building high speed links between the cities and supporting each centre with a hierarchy of transport systems from walking to fast rail.
- Sending the right price signals and getting the appropriate funding base.
- Harnessing the power of community ownership of the issues to effect behaviour changes.
- Reforming institutional structure and legislation to remove barriers to these changes.
Some of the early consequences during and following the completion of the study were:
- NSW Government and PlanningNSW embraced a „City of Cities‟ structure for Greater Sydney.
- Planners are now required to consider mixed use development to reduce the need to travel.
- There a greater focus on enhancement and/or separation of freight routes to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
- The New South Wales Government effected significant institutional change. (regrettably some of this was later reversed but recently partly restored within Infrastructure NSW)
- The Victorian Government engaged with the project and replicated the project, the Report Melbourne 2020.
- The New Zealand Government initiated similar work for a number of cities.
- The Warren Centre was asked to comment on the Federal Government‟s Intelligent Transport Systems study.
- The Integrating Land Use and Transport Policy Package, which includes DRAFT SEPP 66, was released in September 2001. It encouraged mixed use development and recommended that related public transport needs and traffic implications be addressed in al development proposals and plans
- PlanFIRST, a PlanningNSW initiative to reform the NSW planning process, enables community consultations at various stages in the urban development process and endeavours to bring together the many planning requirements
- The project won the prestigious Bradfield Award from Engineers Australia, Sydney Division and was a runner up in the National Engineering Excellence Awards
- Dr David Thorp, of PricewaterhouseCoopers, won the 2001 young transport professional of the year award from the Chartered Institute of Transport for his contribution to the transport industry through his work on this project.
- The Warren Centre launched the organization “Ten Thousand Friends of Greater Sydney” in 2004 which continues to maintain the momentum for change created by this project.
- The project was a major influence on the NSW Government Unsworth Report and subsequent changes to bus operations in NSW
- The project lead to and there was significant input from team leaders to the House of Representatives enquiry into “Sustainable Cities”. This consequence has brought this topic clearly into the National Agenda.
The Warren Centre has continued to look at other aspects of these issues including the current project in progress in 2011-2012 “URBAN REFORM”