Denis Bright invites discussion on the possibilities of Transport Oriented Development (TODs) for both metropolitan and regional areas as alternatives to urban sprawl within tighter sustainable planning models.
All states and territories are committed to sustainable planning goals for major cities. Transport Oriented Developments (TODs) are buzz words in offering alternatives to urban sprawl and to the consequences of unaffordable housing prices and rentals.
Cut-backs in federal funding for public transport have not assisted in these endeavours despite a grand rhetorical commitment from Prime Minister Turnbull. This rhetoric is cheered on by cabinet representatives with infrastructure and regional development responsibilities.
The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport is currently the Hon Darren Chester (Gippsland) who is supported by the Hon Paul Fletcher (Bradfield) in commitment to Urban Infrastructure.
Senator Fiona Nash (NSW) handles Regional Development issues as well as commitment to local government and territories.
Although Senator Nash is a high political profile and National Party leader, the federal LNP has little empathy for the planning, housing and transport needs of regional centres like Toowoomba which have been represented by federal conservative parties since 1901.
A return fare from Brisbane Airport to Toowoomba is about $80 on a senior’s card with the only commercial bus provider. Minimal concessions are offered to students and seniors.
At a time when air fares themselves are becoming more affordable, it would be more appropriate for the federal LNP to concentrate on new public transport links to adjacent regional cities like Toowoomba and major regional airports such as Coolangatta on the Gold Coast.
Expanded transit links to Coolangatta Airport would serve a vast catchment area from outer suburbs of Southern Brisbane through the entire Gold Coast and on to the Northern Rivers of NSW.
Coolangatta Airport could be Brisbane’s second gateway with onsite rail links to its potential catchment areas.
Despite attempts at integrated public transport initiatives, state and territory governments simply do not have the conventional funding mechanisms to cover the billions required in capital works for such projects.
The federal LNP sees this frustration as a ticket to more motorways for the future and more expensive commercial car-parks.
But alternative social market models for sustainable funding do exist.
In Singapore, funds are also injected into the national budget from profits generated by sovereign wealth funds such as the Development Bank of Singapore, Temasek Holdings and GIC Private Ltd.
For this island nation with an extraordinary urban population density, high levels of planning are an absolute necessity. Australia’s major urban population densities have increased enough to justify similar initiatives.
While the federal LNP in Australia always reaches towards more road tollway’s as its preferred transport solution, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) is perfecting the art of planned development within its social market structures.
Within the support of Infrastructure and Community Development Funds (Investment Funds) at state and territory levels, opportunities exist through sustainable planning legislation to foster higher density TODs in inner metropolitan suburbs and regional cities.
Such investment funds would invite capital from local and overseas investors on a similar basis to existing superannuation funds to take advantage of the stability of both financial markets and the Australian dollar.
In the short-term, existing public transport networks can do more to improve cost recovery levels.
Opportunities exist to turn this web site into an online booking agency for rail, bus and accommodation services which would collect bookings fees for use of these services. All listed long distance rail and commercial road services are heavily subsidized by the state government and the nucleus of this integrated booking service is available.
An integrated transport web site for bookings could generate income from booking fees.
Tourism Queensland and its equivalents in other states and territories have the capacity to generate revenue from booking services which cover accommodation, access to commercial travel insurance and all long distance plane, bus and train services through collection of online fees.
In metropolitan areas and regional cities, under-utilized land could be transformed by Investment Funds at state and territory levels.
In the longer-term, TODs can provide an affordable alternative to urban sprawl with its appalling social and environmental consequences.
With the support of a progressive Investment Fund select localities near inner city rail and bus stations could become vibrant housing and commercial precincts. Left to market forces alone, projects like high rise residential near Taringa Station have been stalled by opposition from adjacent communities.
In regional cities and mining towns, the familiar market delivery of suburban styles houses needs to be blended with a range of more concentrated housing models with access to public transport and community services. Support from an Infrastructure and Community Development Fund might be necessary to support this change in housing styles that are more appropriate for this regional campus with 4,000 students in Toowoomba plus additional campuses at Ipswich and on the Fraser Coast.
More regional planning initiatives from progressive Investment Funds would multiply the economic and social impact of this regional campus on a thriving regional city.
Concessional transport for students choosing to live with their families in adjacent regional towns would also be appropriate.
Even in US regional cities like Flagstaff (Arizona) with a similar population to Toowoomba, initiatives have been taken to integrate housing and transport services for a thriving university city.
With its proximity to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Toowoomba will ultimately be transformed into a major regional urban hub. The continued diversification of the economy of the Toowoomba Region and the potential benefits of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) are not going to be achieved solely through reliance on market forces.
The version of capitalism as promoted by the Turnbull Government is certainly playing from an old repertoire. The three federal ministers in charge of maintaining the status quo are playing in unison with The Old Market Overture.
Denis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in developing pragmatic public policies for a contemporary social market that is highly compatible with current globalization trends.
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!
Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.
You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969