Local councils and public transport

The Thirty-Nine Steps

Councils must actually do something themselves to reduce car usage and increase public transport usage, rather than just lobbying State and Commonwealth authorities to do it.

Councils must actively promote what transport already exists, and do everything possible to improve the conditions for bus, ferry and train passengers. For bus users, this can include the ride, the stops, the waiting and the information, while for ferry and rail users, the options are similar but more limited. The needs of taxi users must also be considered - taxis are an important alternative form of public transport.

Some things that Councils can do (in no particular order) are:

  1. include public transport information when advertising the Council's own facilities or events (swimming pools, libraries, parks, social clubs, street fairs, carnivals, etc);
  2. encourage businesses, clubs, schools, sporting and social organisers, etc, to include public transport (and not just parking arrangements) in their advertisements:
  3. locate bus stops where it suits the buses and bus passengers, not just where they will cause the least inconvenience for motorists. (Move the traffic to suit the bus stop, rather than move the bus stop to suit the traffic.);
  4. provide better lighting, seating, shelter, space etc at bus stops and ferry terminals;
  5. provide better lighting and signs at entrances to railway stations. Some station entrances and even the stations themselves are invisible from a distance;
  6. provide bus timetable information at major bus stops (not just an empty display case, but organise the display of the actual timetable);
  7. arrange for timetable leaflets to be available at street carnivals, festivals, etc;
  8. provide safer crossings for pedestrians to railway stations and bus stops;
  9. print a cut-out route map or timetable for a different bus, ferry or train route in each issue of council newsletters;
  10. reward shoppers who come by public transport (competition prize, fare refund, purchase discount, lucky passenger, etc);
  11. don't offer a chance of winning a car to people who pay their rates early. Instead offer ten or twenty prizes of yearly TravelPass tickets (or anything except a car);
  12. don't allow existing bus shelters to be removed by previous advertising contractors before the next contractor has the new shelters ready;
  13. encourage private bus operators to match the generally higher standards provided by State Transit Authority buses;
  14. print a pocket-sized Council Guide to Public Transport (with maps). Advertisers might be willing to help pay for it. Get two or three councils to make a combined one.
  15. mail out a transport guide with the rate notices;
  16. sell TravelPass, TravelTen, BusTripper and DayTripper tickets at Council offices and libraries;
  17. stock bus, ferry and train timetable leaflets at Council offices and libraries;
  18. reward council employees who travel by public transport and for whom the council doesn't have to provide an expensive car parking space;
  19. arrange for the Council to buy yearly tickets for the staff and allow the staff to repay by way of regular salary deductions;
  20. let the mayor, councillors, manager and staff travel and be seen to travel on public transport both during their job and on their way to and from work;
  21. don't include cars as part of employees' packages, but give some other benefit if one is necessary;
  22. ensure that directional notices are adequately displayed when buses are diverted during temporary street closures. Some councils charge fees for such closures, which should help cover the cost of putting up notices at bus stops;
  23. support the transport authorities when residents object to extensions of bus routes down "their" streets;
  24. provide more pleasant waiting areas for bus passengers at major bus stops where it is not appropriate to construct shelters;
  25. give rate rebates or discounts to residents who don't own a car;
  26. co-operate with transport authorities in their efforts to give priority to buses (traffic lights, lanes, turns, kerbside space, pulling out from stops, etc) or even have the Council initiate the moves.
  27. oppose moves to terminate suburban buses at the CBD perimeter, thereby forcing passengers to change into some other transport for the trip to the city centre;
  28. penalise hard and regularly all motorists who park in bus stops. They not only disrupt the bus drivers and passengers, but delay other motorists who are held up behind the "double-parked" bus;
  29. when drafting building regulations, reduce the car parking requirements in locations where there is good public transport nearby. Don't apply the same standards across all areas of the municipality;
  30. in residential developments, encourage occupation by people who don't have cars (or who have only one) by limiting the garages to one or less per unit, instead of one per bedroom as seems to be common now;
  31. in commercial development near major transport hubs or spines, encourage employees and clients to use public transport by limiting the number of car parking spaces required;
  32. monitor the condition of bus stops and quickly replace broken or missing items;
  33. locate any new council facilities near established public transport routes;
  34. encourage the development of higher population densities close to shopping centres and public transport;
  35. reduce parking availability in large commercial centres, and introduce parking regulations with maximum limits for new development applications;
  36. include accessibility to public transport and basic services in the approval process for new residential developments;
  37. establish a network of safe and pleasant walking routes through the municipality, linking shops, schools, residents, recreational areas and public transport services;
  38. improve pedestrian priority at traffic lights, and introduce automatic walk signals;
  39. ensure that future public transport corridors, above and below ground, are protected against development that would make the transport route unviable or impossible.

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April 2002