Draft Statement – Net Zero Transit System
There are three simultaneous crises facing our cities:
- Housing – especially affordable, well-located housing of an appropriate scale that meets this demand
- Transport – especially public transport that is able to provide competitive services with the car so that traffic is reduced.
- Net Zero – the next economy’s need for net zero cities to enable the rapid movement towards meeting state, national and global targets for climate.
These are interchangeable and interdependent issues. Their solution points to more urban regeneration in appropriate parts of the inner and middle suburbs rather than the urban fringe with new net zero transit.
This Symposium believes that a new model is needed to deliver this urban regeneration and needs the following:
- Net Zero Transit created along certain main roads corridors linking to major train lines, and this should involve innovative mid-tier transit like Trackless Trams
- Net Zero Boulevards designated along these main roads, that can demonstrate net zero precincts around stations along the net zero corridor.
- Net Zero Precincts designed with the private sector and local communities to enable dense housing and mixed-use opportunities in a walkable, green environment.
- Net Zero Planning Tools created that apply to this urban regeneration model providing clear evidence of the increased value to multiple goals in housing, transport, and climate as well as value to economic productivity and tax/rates.
- Net Zero Delivery Processes created that involve partnerships between Public agencies, Private developers and owners, and Community organizations that can enable local value to be provided. This will be supported with new fiscal and finance models.
The task was set up for us in WA by the State Infrastructure Strategy which suggests a new mid-tier transit strategy was needed and the issues of housing and climate change needed to be addressed at the same time.
This Symposium set up two fundamental questions that needed answering and these have become the goals of Day 1 and Day 2: ‘Is it just a bus?’ and ‘How do we integrate mid-tier transit, urban regeneration and finance with multiple government goals?’.
On Day 1 the Panel considered ‘Is it just a bus?’. This canvassed the opportunities arising from trackless trams and other new modes of transit in service delivery, accessibility, place creation, net zero outcomes and urban regeneration. It saw that it was not just the vehicle but the wider benefits that could be unlocked by integrating EV capabilities, digital connectivity and autonomy. The trackless tram certification process identified the vehicle to be different from a bus requiring a new vehicle class and was very obvious when we all rode the DRT at City of Stirling. It’s like a smart phone compared to a landline. It is not a bus. Across the whole of Perth and most other Australian cities there is a strong desire to pursue the possibilities of a Trackless Tram to help with urban regeneration, especially from local government and communities.
The Day 2 Panel question was ‘How do we integrate mid-tier transit, urban regeneration and finance with multiple government goals’. This is harder as it gets to the heart of our need for a ‘new model’ in order to help procure and deliver the tram in a way that helps solve the need for substantial new housing along the chosen main roads; this will need to involve new financial and design partnerships with the private sector.
Our research group has published much about this but now it needs to be translated into the necessary steps to make it possible to happen, especially within a net zero agenda. It’s made easier now as there is a clear need to find new solutions for affordable, well-located housing, new sources of funding, new ways of enabling public transport to be competitive and new ways of making net zero cities – together.
Each Australian city is trying to achieve this with Movement and Place Strategies, main road regeneration and now, with Net Zero Strategies. Victoria’s Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 strategy states that the city will need 1.6 million additional homes, in places where people want to live, to increase housing supply and improve affordability in the coming decades. It also stipulates that 70 per cent of residential development should occur in existing suburbs, to create a liveable, sustainable city and curb urban sprawl.
In California the Planning Act has been changed to enable a series of main roads to be regenerated into Grand Boulevards as a way of meeting the dominant housing demand which has shifted from single family housing on the fringe to well-located medium and high-density opportunities. The fiscal and financial basis for this was clear.
In Perth, a recent policy change happened with a request for Private involvement in Transit Oriented Urbanism around stations though this did not work around outer area new stations as hoped. Regenerating selected main roads is now the agenda across all Australian cities. Doors are opening to this new model.
A Federal Government strategy on cities like Better Cities in the 1980’s is well over due.
The Perth Statement on a Net Zero Transit system will become an important and historic way to help continue opening the doors to great urban innovations.