In news that’s not going to come as any surprise to anyone who has to use it with any great regularity: The public transport networks in Australia’s major cities suck fairly tremendously. And their levels of suckiness only magnify once you travel overseas and experience the more capable metro systems of major global centres.
While it’s been an unwritten, unofficially stated thing for a while now, a new study has put all speculation to bed: When it comes to public transport, Australia is not good.
The 2017 Sustainable Cities Mobility Index, compiled by consultancy firm Arcadis, has released its global ranking of major city transport systems, and Australia is lagging behind most of the world in every conceivable metric.
Of the cities ranked in the top 100, Brisbane comes in the highest on the list at a measly 48th; barely scraping into the top 50. As with all the major Australian cities that appeared on the list, it’s severe underinvestment despite growing populations that’s preventing the Queensland capital’s infrastructure from shaping up to the world’s best.
It gets even grimmer the further down the list you go: Sydney comes in at 51, Canberra scored 53rd spot, Melbourne only managed to scrape 55th position, while Perth dangles precariously low on the list at 87th, beating only the likes of Jakarta, Cairo, and Kuwait City in the Top 100 list.
In the case of Brisbane, the index cites the need to find ways of funding transport that prioritise sustainability while keeping up with the city’s fast growth.
However, despite ranking top in Australia, Brisbane still has work to do to strengthen its infrastructure and to remain attractive, liveable, and mobile: chronic underinvestment in public transport has seen the city, alongside it’s southern counterparts, suffer on the global mobility stage. The mobility sub-indices show that, not only does Brisbane need to find better ways to fund public transport, it must also ensure any existing and new public transport developments are affordable and sustainable.
Sydney didn’t fare much better, with the city’s well-documented planning issues at the forefront of the list of problems holding its rail system back.
Some of Sydney’s lacklustre performance can be attributed to the high concentration of professionals traveling into the Central Business District, which is on the city’s eastern coastal edge and a significant distance from Sydney’s geographical centre.
Meanwhile Melbourne’s rating suffers significantly for mostly environmental reasons, with the city’s growth necessitating reliance on “long-range” transport options.
One of the largest factors affecting Melbourne’s mobility is its rapid recent growth. It is projected that Melbourne’s population will double to around eight million in the next generation, overtaking Sydney as Australia’s largest city. Expanding fast and with high house prices in the city centre – Melbourne has the fifth least affordable housing market in the world – the city is increasingly reliant on long-range transport options.
The report did note the various long-term infrastructure projects currently being undertaken by the various Australian cities, but as they are under construction they don’t factor into current rankings.
Cop the list of the ten best transport networks in the world below.
2017 SUSTAINABLE CITIES MOBILITY INDEX – TOP 10
1. Hong Kong
Image: Getty Images / Jeff Greenberg