Brisbane Line welcomes new editor David Mayocchi.

A brochure in my letter-box from the Brisbane City Council asks if I have better things to do than sit in traffic. If I have better things to do, it suggests I use the Go Between Bridge. I guess it’s either that, or listen to one of the namesake band’s albums in my car as I wait in traffic. Over the working week, the Go Between Bridge toll would amount to $25. The time saving might be up to two hours. If I decide to sit in traffic, I’ll have saved enough money to buy another CD to listen to while I wait in traffic. On the other hand, I could be spending the time saved by using the bridge with my family.

The completion of the BrisConnections AirportlinkM7 provides a timely opportunity to consider ways we might address traffic congestion issues in Brisbane and South-East Queensland.

With the Queensland Government determined to reduce the state’s debt, it’s clear that reducing congestion in Brisbane will rely at least partly on a user-pays approach. Should we build more toll-roads through public-private partnerships (PPP), try to reduce traffic flow during peak times through some form of congestion charge, reconfigure our public transport system so it is more attractive and efficient, or some combination of these?

Executive Director and CEO of AirportlinkM7 operator BrisConnections Dr Ray Wilson believes that the PPP model is the best way of developing our road infrastructure. However it is not without risks, for operators and ultimately the community. Read Ray’s perspective here.

RACQ Executive Director for Public Policy Michael Roth asks if the time has come to look towards new approaches like a congestion tax. It’s a view many of his members support. Roth also asks if the money spent building dedicated busways might be better spent widening the existing road network. You can read Michael’s piece here.

In a 2006 paper from the RACQ, Ken Willett argued in favour of increased public transport services, decreased public transport subsidies and the introduction of a congestion pricing system for traffic. His paper suggests existing public transport subsidies are inefficient as an anti-congestion device. Read it here (opens in new site).

Maybe one reason our public transport system is failing to solve the congestion problem is the way the network is designed. How many of us can travel to the next suburb without passing through the city? Jarrett Walker suggests the solution may lie in a combination of more frequent public transport services (every 15 minutes, 18 hours a day, 7 days a week) across fewer, simpler routes that cross the city in a grid. He provides some North American examples of city-wide public transport network reconfigurations that reduce the need for every adult to own a car, here (opens in new site).

John Stanley and Simon Barrett prepared “Moving People” for public transport industry groups in Australia. It presents historical data that show reduced infrastructure spending by government, large increases in freight traffic on roads and big changes in the way children travel to school. Read it here (opens in new site).

Finally if you have enjoyed this issue and are interested in reading further, look at some of the many publications produced by the Australian Key Centre in Transport and Logistics Management. They include opinion pieces by the Centre’s director, David Hensher, as well as many longer research reports. Links to these and to other relevant articles are provided below. As always, we look forward to your comments!

Australian Key Centre in Transport and Logistics Management  (opens in new site)

Professor David Hensher, Food for Thought  (opens in new site)

John Stanley and David Hensher, Urban transport in Australia: Has it reached breaking point?

John Stanley and David Hensher, Environmental and social taxes: Reforming road pricing in Australia

Infrastructure Australia Finance Working Group, Infrastructure Finance and Funding Reform Report

Kenneth A. Small, Private Provision of Highways: Economic Issues