For a Better Brisbane

Monday Movie: Auckland, City of Cars

Public transport policy matters. Often urban density is thought as the key guide to predicting how many people will use public transport, but in this documentary (parts 2 and 3 will screen on this blog next Monday and the monday after that) we will see how policy decisions impact on patronage.

While it is great to see ideas to improve our ways of getting around Brisbane, it’s also good to look at real world examples of what the (car-first) alternatives are. When people think about freeways and traffic jams, they often think of Los Angeles, USA.

To look at a place that has pursued a road based program, look over the Tasman– at Auckland, NZ.

  • Los Angeles 2500 persons per km2 (Demographia, base year 2000)
  • Los Angeles 2730 persons per km2 (Derived from Mees 2010)
  • Brisbane 900 persons per km2 (Demographia, base year 2006)
  • Auckland 2200 persons per km2 (Demographia, base year 2006)

Surprisingly,  LA is actually quite a dense city. It’s at least 2.5 times the density of Brisbane. The same can be said for Auckland, which is about 2.4 times more dense than Brisbane. Yet Brisbane has better public transport use than either city. Density can do so much, but it won’t put buses on the road or trains on tracks– because governments must play a proactive role in making that happen. Take note Brisbane!

This short documentary (5 minutes) features Dr Paul Mees of RMIT, Jan Gehl of Gehl architects, Dr Peter Newman of Murdoch University and David Lindsay. Enjoy!

It’s probably got one of the worst public transport systems you could come across anywhere in the world. And I think you could say, the worst urban rail system of any city in any developed country in the world.

– Dr Paul Mees

(Densities are independently calculated by two independent authors, whose works can be found in the interchange. It is expected that there will be some small variation).


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August 30, 2010 at 8:08 pm

5 Responses

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  1. This Blog’s view is that often the community is not empowered to adequately understand or scrutinise plans or ideas because they don’t have access to the information, experts or technical understanding that proponent parties do.

    This blog, although a work of pure opinion, will hopefully reduce that information barrier somewhat.


    September 1, 2010 at 12:25 am

  2. i share your sceptcism. I’ve been waiting all day to read the fine print in the plan…things like:
    -back ending the rail projects till post 2025;
    -front ending the road projects from 2011;
    -projects being dependent on matching federal funds;
    etc etc etc
    fingers crossed to be proven wrong though.
    keep up this good work and posting into article blogs on newspapers.


    August 31, 2010 at 11:01 pm

  3. “could Brisbane dare do the same?”

    Kingcorio, something amazing happened this morning, and it is all over the news. The 2031 plan has been released featuring all sorts of new rail lines, bus services and frequency improvements.

    Let’s hope it gets delivered.


    August 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm

  4. Yes, the LA plans have featured – see URL below. The main goal should be mode share- the overall proportion of people who use public transport to get around.

    Large capital expenditures on public transport ‘hardware’ in themselves are not sufficient for good public transport.

    The key thing here is building an integrated network to compete against the car- which means connecting things up. The City of Zurich, Switzerland; Toronto, Canada and Perth, Australia are pioneers in this.

    The introduction of integrated ticketing into South East Queensland and the establishment of TransLink has sparked a huge jump in patronage, because people could now transfer between bus, train and ferry.


    August 31, 2010 at 7:11 am

  5. LA’S GREAT LEAP FORWARD-In a sweeping plan the city of Los Angeles is preparing to build 30 years worth of transit infrastructure in just 10 years….LA 30/10 marks a shift away from car-centric mobility planning…could Brisbane dare do the same?
    In the recent fed election the:
    SEQ Council of Mayors sought funding for 4 more road projects;
    Greens proposed funding for light rail and
    ALP would fund the Redcliffe rail spur.
    Just last weekend the Lord Mayor of Brisbane wanted to use ratepayers money to build and buy more tollroads.


    August 31, 2010 at 5:53 am

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