More than four million people living in Australian capital cities are not within walking distance of a bus or train.
A new report by Infrastructure Australia has urged the government to shift their focus from building new networks to improving already established public transport.
The report found the lack of public transport has a significant impact on people accessing jobs, education and ‘their quality of life’.
Infrastructure Australia director of policy and research Peter Colacino said the government should consider new and innovative ways to address the demand.
‘While existing transport infrastructure serves inner city areas well, people living on the outskirts of our major cities are being disadvantaged by a lack of access to frequent public transport services,’ Mr Colacino said.
‘This impacts their ability to access jobs, education and other opportunities to improve their quality of life.’
A key measure of the Outer Urban Public Transport report was whether someone lives within a 15-minute walk of public transport that provide four services an hour.
Mr Colacino said close to half the population of our five largest cities live in the outer suburbs but these areas experience lower levels of service and access to transport.
More than 1.4 million people fall into this category, with more than one million in Sydney and Brisbane, half a million people in Perth and 200,000 people in Adelaide.
‘While costs of housing can be cheaper in outer suburbs, often they are less well-served by public transport,’ he said.
Without access to adequate transport, Mr Colacino said people are more reliant on cars – resulting in additional operating costs, leaving less money for other expenses.
Instead of focusing on developing costly light rail systems, the report urged the government to improve services by incorporating emerging forms of transport.
Delivering services that meet demand, coordinating timetables, integrating fares and embracing transport methods such as on-demand buses were all suggested.
On-demand buses are designed to complement existing public transport by covering gaps in networks, making it easier to travel to less serviced areas.
While public transport networks are typically more efficient in the CBD, Mr Colacino said these emerging delivery models offer an effective solution for commuters.
He said it provides an immediate opportunity to confront challenges by increasing flexibility and reach of the network by serving a more diverse range of destinations.
Mr Colacino said the report highlighted how governments can benefit from adopting these transport models as a way to meet the demands of the modern commuter.
‘This report makes a clear case for governments to consider new models such as on-demand buses and ride-sharing to complement more traditional modes, like bus and rail,’ he said.