While there has been large investment into the Perth public transport system, the cost of congestion on Perth roads is set to increase from $1.5 billion to $3.6 billion over the next 12 years.
The use of Transperth services peaked in 2012-13 with 149,697,303 rides taken. In 2017-18, there were only 139,847,149 rides taken via Transperth’s buses, ferries and trains. But is more public transport really the answer?
According to data from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, 69 per cent of the working population in Australia commute to work by car. And Infrastructure Australia has predicted that Perth will have seven of the 10 most congested roads in Australia by 2031, these include: Mitchell Freeway, Tonkin Highway, Graham Farmer Freeway and Marmion Avenue.
WA Sustainable Transport Coalition former co-convener Melissa Stanton says every person cycling to work makes a difference in reducing congestion.
“Every car off the road decreases congestion in some way which is why cycling is a positive option,” Ms Stanton says.
“There needs to be more access to bike paths along with easier access, and that will help persuade people to ride more.”
While cycling is a more environmentally-conscious option, Stanton says it’s convenience which keeps people in their cars on their commutes to work.
“Driving is just seen as being more convenient, that’s why it’s the constant transportation mindset.
“There needs to be more discussion about bike paths and the more effective methods of transportation.”
Perth cyclist Andrew Amos says cycling should be promoted as a healthier option of transportation.
“Cycling is something that is minimal cost to maintain and healthier for you and the environment. If you can account for the extra time and work it around your day, there is no reason to jump on a bike or take public transport,” Mr Amos says.
“Education about cyclists on roads need to be directed to motorists more than cyclists. If drivers can respect cyclists on the road, it will become a lot safer for everyone.”
Despite an ever-increasing Perth population, Amos believes congestion isn’t a large factor when cycling.
“Population increases usually means an increase in the number of cars, and roads take time to develop. However, when riding, you rarely notice the congestion as you can usually get around it,” Mr Amos says.
“The increased focus on bike paths around major roads makes Perth incredibly cycle-friendly. You can get around to most places taking paths only, and the condition of roads and paths generally make riding safe.”
Amos insists that there’s no harm done when cycling to work, even if it takes slightly longer.
“Perth is very much like a big country town. Everyone believes that everything is stretched out and that the only way to get around is with a car, but if you are willing to account for an extra 15 minutes, there’s no harm in taking public transport or riding a bike.”