LESS CHAT ABOUT M1, MORE CHAT ABOUT TRANSIT

10 August 2016

CITIES that are designed to be reliant on cars are bound for failure.  Cities that adopt a capable and dependable transit system are bound for success.

While there has been a lot of chatter and debate in recent months about funding for the M1, Young Professionals Gold Coast believes the discussion needs to be turned on its head.

The city shouldn’t be talking about how to fund road extensions and major upgrades; it should be talking about how to fund and implement a capable and dependable public transport system.

The city needs transportation alternatives that encourage people to leave their car at home, and one that is suited to each particular circumstance with easy connections; train to bus to tram to walk should be seamless.  

Building more roads only adds more cars; it is a bandaid approach to the city’s traffic congestion, and extending and building wider roads to cure this nightmare is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.  

With the city’s population growth expected to double by 2020, and the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, the Gold Coast needs to focus on, and adopt, a world-class transit network.

While it has been debated that upgrading the M1 is a big part of battling the city’s traffic woes, in reality, it offers short-term relief.

Upgrades to the M1 will not limit congestion in the long run, and it will not stop future closures.

There will always be circumstances when the motorway is shut down.  To combat closures, the city needs to have alternative transportation so when a closure occurs, the city does not come to a standstill.

Smart suburbs, and smart cities, have transit, which includes high frequency buses – at least every 15 minutes.  And buses need to connect with a tram system that travels the length of the city and connects to suburbs inland.

In addition, the city should take advantage of its canals.  The waterways present a great opportunity for a ferry system – the Gold Coast needs to act on this and the 2018 Commonwealth games should be the catalyst.

Cycling is also a huge sport and popular mode of transportation worldwide. To make it safe and to encourage more cyclists, the city needs to have separate bike lanes, especially on high volume and high-speed roads.

While it is one thing to have options, it is not enough – people will always choose the most convenient, and with the current public transport network, Gold Coasters will choose their car every time. 

The city needs to prioritise transit types; pedestrians over cars at intersections, bikes over trams – don’t ban cars, prioritise them last.

YP Gold Coast is encouraging an evolution towards integrated transit – we need a city that connects places that people need including home and work.

The city should run trials – new bus routes, ferry system, extended bike lanes – and then invest in infrastructure upgrades if a trial is successful.  

Ultimately, the Gold Coast needs to prioritise expenditure away from road upgrades to public transit.