Report calls for road tax and infrastructure reform

New report urges governments to look at road pricing and transport infrastructure policies to cope with growing population

By Ruza Zivkusic | November 23, 2010

An integrated funding framework for Australia’s transport infrastructure is needed to manage overcrowding and system failures, a report has found.

Consult Australia, formerly the Association of Consulting Engineers, has developed a report calling on state governments to review their policies to meet the needs of a growing population.

Consult Australia’s policy director Jonathan Cartledge says the Transporting Australia’s Future report, which was developed over the last six months, suggests trialling road pricing in Melbourne.

"We see this as a long-term reform agenda, it requires leadership and ambition from governments to see it realised.

"We would like to see an independent standing commission on transport funding reform established and road user charge highly on the agenda for the 2011 tax summit at a federal level," Cartledge says.

"We want the state governments to think more laterally how they can better fund transport infrastructure in the future.

"It’s because of the lack of prioritisation and investment in infrastructure at all levels of government; what this report demonstrates is that we have increasing revenue based relatively to GST and increasing tax."

"Current revenue sources for transport infrastructure such as fuel excise, vehicle registration, tolls parking fees are not integrated, not service-driven, do not reflect true costs and will be reduced over time through greater fuel efficiency and diminishing oil reserves and fuel excise revenue."

Consult Australia, also suggest trialling cordon pricing in Brisbane to support the Cross River Rail, reform of parking policy in Melbourne, trialling managed motorways in Adelaide and tax increment financing in New South Wales.

Victorian Public Transport Users Association President Daniel Bowen welcomes the calls, saying investment in public transport has "lagged" over the last few decades.

"We’re seeing the consequences of that now with regular breakdowns on the Melbourne train network as well as overcrowding and many new suburbs don’t have good access to public transports, so yes, it would make sense to reform the funding arrangements to ensure that adequate investment is made as Melbourne continues to grow," Bowen says.

He says he’s optimistic about this Saturday’s state election in Victoria and believes public transport issues will be considered by the voters.

"Public transport is on the agenda, people are increasingly concerned that the system is not up to the task of moving Melbourne’s population sufficiently, even if you never use public transport you know how essential it is in helping cut the traffic congestion.

"There is a need for more frequent services running across Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses. The Liberals and the Greens are pushing for an independent transport authority which would help improve the coordination between services, management and planning.

"Labor’s policies have been a little disappointing, they’ve beaten around the bushes in terms of boosting the services or improving coordination of new infrastructure; you’d hope that they are aware of how big the issue of public transport has become."

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