Monday, April 07, 2008

The feasability of a kick-arse public transport system for Brisbane?

Brisbane is a great place, but one thing you hear over and over again is that the public transport sucks. While it could be a lot worse, and I'm glad we've got what we have (CityCats in particular are nice), I’m equally sure it could be a lot better.

But how much better is feasable? Would an ideal, kick-arse public transport system actually be possible? I don’t know the answers, but here's some thoughts on what would be desirable, and some of the questions I have about its feasability.

I'm thinking of a public transport system with extensive coverage and very frequent services. Where all the services started early in the morning and ran till late at night, and 10 minutes was the most you’d ever have to wait.

Where, wherever you were in Brisbane, five minutes was the most you’d have to walk to get to public transport. Where you can go pretty directly to where you want – perhaps by first travelling to one of a few major hubs, and from there straight out to your destination.

But how feasible would that be? One thing you'd need is people with the right vision and drive to carry it through. I take that as a given; what's less clear to me is the economic feasibility.

What changes or alternatives could be used to work towards these goals? What incremental changes could be made? What sorts of improvements would require new infrastructure or different transport means?

For all of these things, what sorts of costs would be involved? And how much of those costs could you expect to offset (at least in the medium to long term) by increased public transport usage? To what extent could you convince people that the extra costs were worth it (such as by painting a compelling picture of what could be done)?

And how long would the different options take to implement?

If the ideal is not possible, how close to it could you get?

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