“Queensland’s roads aren’t becoming less congested. It’s an issue that is always overlooked…we need action, and we need it now.”

By Liam Rowe, 2017 Youth Member for Pine Rivers

Lets face it. Queensland’s roads aren’t becoming less congested. Queensland’s population will increase from 4.85 million to 6.76 million people by 2036. This population increase will put immense pressure on the road network. It’s an issue that is always overlooked. Traffic congestion doesn’t just fix itself: we need action and we need it now.

It is unbelievable that very little is being done to address this issue. Indeed, there are many ways to improve this problem and more funds need to be invested in public transport rather than private transport.

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Public transport: A Brisbane City Council bus travels the Northern Busway

Many people question how congestion can be fixed and improved. To take an example, our rail network is almost at capacity; so how can more trains be put on the tracks? The answer is simple. We need Cross River Rail. This urban infrastructure project, encompassing five new rail stations, over 10 kilometres of track, and a high-capacity underground river crossing, will significantly increase carrying capacity in the inner suburbs and CBD, allowing for increased services and better efficiency.

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CBD access: an artist’s impression of the proposed Albert Street station

Proper bus reform is also key to improving public transport and encouraging more commuters to catch it. At the moment, Brisbane has an excess of bus services travelling into the CBD. This is a result of buses servicing local neighbourhoods, and travelling into the city in an indirect way. With over 600 bus services entering the CBD during weekday peak hours, these vehicles consume much of the space on the roads. It also takes longer than it should to get into the city, driving commuters to forego public transport for cars. The simple answer to a challenging problem: direct express services travelling to and from the CBD.

These buses could be longer vehicles, with greater commuter capacity. These services could also be more frequent, and stop only at major bus interchanges, where people can transfer onto smaller, suburbia-only feeder services. There could also direct services travelling in between major interchanges, allowing for people to travel between these stations without passing through the CBD.

Curitiba, the capital of the State of Parana in Brazil, uses such a concept. With a similar population, they average 2.3 million passenger trips a day, which is about the same as the TransLink network weekly average. As such, it has proven to be extremely successful in combating traffic congestion.

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A system for the future: public transport lines in Curitiba, Brazil.

Bus rapid transit (BRT) has also proven to be highly effective, and is employed in Curitiba. BRT is, in effect, a roadway dedicated specifically for buses. The red lines on the map above are BRT lines, which travel in their own lanes in the median of roadways. This allows buses to travel into the city centre without causing, or being hampered by traffic. These lines also have unique Metro-like stations that allow platform level boarding, decreasing boarding times. Fare collection is also done prior to boarding, and a gate system prevents fare evasion.

Running similarly to a heavy-rail system, yet for buses; the buses that are used are distinctive, red bi-articulated vehicles. While Brisbane has somewhat of a similar system, with its busways, it needs to be heavily improved on, and expanded to the outer suburbs.

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Suburban bus lanes: BRT in action.

Overall, public transport is a complex system, however simple solutions exist to many of its issues. BRT, prompt and proper bus reform, and Cross River Rail combined will make Brisbane’s public transport more effective, more commuter attractive and reduce traffic congestion.