• Australian (ASX) Stock Market Forum

Hello and welcome to Aussie Stock Forums!

To gain full access you must register. Registration is free and takes only a few seconds to complete.

Already a member? Log in here.

Why is public transportation in Australia bad?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by cornucopian, Jun 7, 2014.

  1. cornucopian

    cornucopian

    Posts:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    I live in the U.S and I have always thought Australia has good public transportation.

    I was reading on Wikipedia that Australians are highly dependent on their cars for transportation.

    From Wikipedia(transport in Australia):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Australia

    Australia has the second highest level of car ownership in the world. It has three to four times more road per capita than Europe and seven to nine times more than Asia. Australia also has the third highest per capita rate of fuel consumption in the world. Melbourne is the most car-dependent city in Australia, as of a data survey in the 2010s. Having over 110,000 more cars driving to and from the city each day than Sydney. Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane are rated as being close behind. All these capital cictes are rated among the highest in this category in the world (car dependency).[1] Furthermore, the distance travelled by car (or similar vehicle) in Australia is among the highest in the world, being exceeded by USA and Canada.

    With high fuel prices, how are people able to afford and drive one? Finally, will public transportation improve in the coming years?

    I am trying to invest in countries that are less dependent on oil and energy in general.
     
  2. bellenuit

    bellenuit

    Posts:
    3,489
    Likes Received:
    645
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2008
    In a sentence: because we have low density populations and vast intercity distances.

    For instance, I believe the physical size of greater Perth (taking in all adjoining suburbs and towns) is bigger than London and not far off that of Tokyo, but has a population 5 to 8 times less respectively. There is no way you could run a public transport system that is on a par with London and Tokyo in Perth, particularly to the outer suburbs. The density of people is not sufficient to warrant services of equivalent frequency and penetration. This in turn makes public transport less attractive to those outer suburb residences, so they ignore the services they have.

    It will gradually change over time, as the cost of fuel forces people on to public transport. Also, cities will tend to infill rather than continually expand, increasing the population density and making it more viable to build transport infrastructure.

    The 2nd point is the distance between main population centres. Perth again is a prime example. The nearest city to Perth with a population over 1M is Adelaide and the distance between them is on a par with that between London and Moscow. Running frequent high speed trains between such distant and comparatively small population centres is not feasible. The only exception may be the Melbourne - Canberra - Sydney - Brisbane route, but probably not anywhere else. In contrast, look at a map of England or Japan and you will see lots of 1M+ population centres in relatively close proximity to each other.
     
  3. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

    Posts:
    10,877
    Likes Received:
    5,750
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    Population density is a key factor but there's also another issue relating to the political and management approach.

    In general terms, city public transport systems in Australia are unprofitable and subsidised (from general taxation revenue) since they are deemed a necessary public service to provide. Either government directly runs the system and incurs a financial loss doing so, or the system is privately run but provided with a subsidy by government.

    If you have a high population density city and can make a profit then running good public transport is relatively easy. Not so when you lose money every time a bus leaves the depot, in that case the natural tendency is to provide only the bare minimum of services deemed necessary for social reasons and leave everyone else to drive a car.

    That said, public transport in the cities is good enough to get from A to B in most cases. It's a workable option, but not as convenient for most as driving.
     
  4. cornucopian

    cornucopian

    Posts:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    My main worry is that we might have an oil crisis in the near future which will cause a worldwide recession.

    I didn't realize cities in Australia have such low population densities.

    Do you think New Zealand might fare better? Personally, I have been looking at Scandanavian stocks. The population there seems to be happy to use public transportation and cars are very expensive due to taxation.

    Japan has excellent public transportation, but it is deep in debt. Sadly, there seems to be no place to hide...
     
  5. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

    Posts:
    14,033
    Likes Received:
    3,796
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    The US apparently has "endless" supplies of shale oil. It will get harder to extract and more expensive but I don't think there is going to be an oil crisis in the near future.
     
  6. cornucopian

    cornucopian

    Posts:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    I agree. The problem is can consumers pay for it? As long as we have carbon and hydrogen, we can create/manufacture endless amounts of oil. Most people are struggling to pay $4 here. Imagine if prices hit $5? We are looking at a depression.
     
  7. McLovin

    McLovin

    Posts:
    5,341
    Likes Received:
    229
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2011
    Isn't there also a chicken and egg problem? Most cities with high densities became dense because of things like metros. In Australia governments seem to be waiting for everyone to live on top of each other in perpetual gridlock before they will actually do anything. Sydney and Melbourne could easily sustain a real metro. I'm no town planner but how stupid is it that if someone wants to go to Newtown (10 mins from the CBD) they are put on the same train as someone wanting to go to Campbelltown (1h10m from the CBD)...
     
  8. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

    Posts:
    14,033
    Likes Received:
    3,796
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Is that $4 a gallon ?

    Luxury.

    We pay ~ $1.60 per litre -> $6 per gallon. There is no depression here, yet, but given enough time I'm sure our government can make one.

    :D
     
  9. pinkboy

    pinkboy

    Posts:
    278
    Likes Received:
    10
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Public transport??? ...ewwwwww!

    Nothing else screams 'cool' like a hotted up metallic chameleon Hyundai with chrome mags, sunburned right elbow, with 50 cent bashing your eardrums, ciggie hanging from the lips!

    The bus just ain't cool bro!


    pinkboy
     
  10. cornucopian

    cornucopian

    Posts:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    Yes. $ 4 a gallon. The U.S is more car dependent than Australia. Public transportation is almost non existent for most people. American cars/trucks are also less fuel efficient because they tend to be heavier and larger in size. I think gasoline prices here a much bigger impact than the rest of the world.

    Goods also travel much longer distances here. Most of the fruits and vegetables I ate today, came from California which is about 4789 km from where I live.

    I can see people carpooling and making changes but there are limits. The average American is loaded with debt and even a small increase in gas prices will make it hard to pay the bills.
     
  11. sptrawler

    sptrawler

    Posts:
    14,677
    Likes Received:
    5,562
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2009
    Don't worry too much about what SirRumpole said, he will blame it on Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, apparently he is to blame for the worlds problems.lol

    Just joking cornucopian, the U.S has been through a huge economic upheaval, but from the information we are hearing things seem to be improving.

    The U.S model of having most services supplied by the private sector, seems to be riddled with problems.
    Not the least being lack of funding to those services that aren't returning a profit. Which leads to an ever decreasing service.
     
  12. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

    Posts:
    10,877
    Likes Received:
    5,750
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    If you are looking for a country to invest in based on oil then the one that stands out above all the rest is Canada.

    Canada has the third largest reserves of any country, exceeded only by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and is a "friendly" country in which to invest when compared to most other oil-rich nations.

    Whilst most of Canada's oil is in the form of oil sands which are economically marginal at present, if the oil price goes up sufficiently then that makes this oil source a lot more viable economically. So a rise in price and a rise in physical production would be likely also - both of which are good news for the broader economy there.

    Energy in Canada:

    Oil - Production is about double the rate of domestic consumption. Third largest reserve holder in the world.

    Gas - Canada is a net exporter of gas (to the US).

    Coal - Production is slightly higher than consumption, they are basically self sufficient in coal.

    Uranium - 18% of world production (second place behind Kazakhstan) and 9% of world reserves (third place behind Australia and Kazakhstan).

    Electricity - Almost entirely from domestic resources with hydro (64%), nuclear (15%), coal (13%), gas (6%) as the major sources and minor amounts from wind, wood and oil.

    So for the OP living in the US and concerned about the impact of oil on investments, Canada seems the obvious place to look. Certainly they'd have some issues at the consumer level with rising fuel prices as would most countries, but as a whole they are either self-sufficient or a net exporter of every energy source so should do better in a crisis situation than countries relying on imports.

    As for Australia, well we're the 4th largest coal producer in the world and have the 5th largest reserves with most production being exported. Australia also exports significant amounts of gas (as LNG). We have 31% of the world's uranium and account for 11% of production (all of which is exported, there being no nuclear power industry in Australia). Australian electricity is almost entirely from domestic resources, with coal (around 75%) being dominant and most of the rest from gas, hydro and wind in that order.

    Australia's big energy weakness however is oil. Demand is rising, production is falling and much of what we use is imported as refined products. So whilst Australia exports energy overall (as coal, gas and uranium) we are very much an importer so far as oil is concerned, and the scale of imports is rising quite rapidly.
     
  13. prawn_86

    prawn_86 Mod: Call me Dendrobranchiata

    Posts:
    6,637
    Likes Received:
    5
    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    I have been living in the US for nearly a year now and for a so called 'super power' there is so much wrong with many of their services and systems.

    Unfortunately Australia continues to go down the same route privatising and selling off everything. Just because the US is big doesnt mean it is successful (any more) yet other Western governments dont seem to notice that
     
  14. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

    Posts:
    14,033
    Likes Received:
    3,796
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    The continual trade off between quality and cheapness.

    What do we really want ?
     
  15. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

    Posts:
    10,877
    Likes Received:
    5,750
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    So far as people using public transport in Australian cities is concerned, it largely comes down to convenience.

    If you're a city office worker in Sydney or Melbourne then commuting by train, tram or bus is an option that many people do choose, simply because it's easy (no need to worry about traffic and driving), you don't have the hassle or cost of having to park a car all day (and parking isn't cheap) and overall it's not much different in terms of time from home to work and back.

    But if you're not working right in the city center, well then actually getting to work via public transport will for most people involve changing services. Get one train or bus, get off and wait for another one. So it's a lot more hassle. Add in that parking tends to be much more easily available outside the center of a city, often at no cost, and driving becomes attractive since it's considerably quicker (due to the need to change services) and there's not much of a financial issue with it either.

    For the smaller cities, and that's basically anywhere that isn't Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide then traffic and parking just isn't that much of a hassle. In Hobart (population 0.2 million for the OP) I can drive from home to work in 10 minutes if I get a good run, make that 20 minutes if it's raining and I get stopped at red lights and so on. The bus that runs not far from me, it's about a 5 minute walk to the bus stop, just can't compete with that time. Walking to and from it alone takes longer than driving, and then there's the multiple stops the bus makes along the way, and of course the time spent moving is the same as a car anyway. So the bus is far slower and not much cheaper in a small city where there's no real need to pay for parking (and it's cheap even if you did want to park right in the CBD).

    But public transport does work as such in Australian cities, it's just not as convenient for most (exception of city office workers in the larger cities) as driving. I never bother renting a car if I'm in one of the 5 larger Australian cities since there's plenty of trains, trams, ferries and/or buses to get me where I need to go. But that said, as a visitor I'm not generally in a hurry, it just doesn't bother me that the tram or train takes twice as long as it would take to drive (and of course I'd be relying on the GPS to tell me where to go anyway).

    But if I was living in one of the bigger cities and doing the same trip every day then there's an incentive to find the fastest and most economical way of doing it. If it's into the city center then driving is costly (due to parking) but for other locations that's not usually such a problem. And driving is, in most cases, faster than public transport. Hence people choosing to drive.
     
  16. Junior

    Junior

    Posts:
    1,132
    Likes Received:
    516
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Agree with Smurf's summation.

    I live and work inner east Melbourne, so catch PT a lot and it works well for me. As Smurf said, as soon as you're not in or near the CBD driving wins.

    The size of Melbourne supports significantly expanded underground rail IMO. Obviously it is a costly exercise and would run at a loss for some time, but long term would be heavily utilised and reduce reliance on cars. Wherever a new station is built could support high density housing in that immediate area, reducing the never-ending urban sprawl and reducing reliance on cars & roads. Expand bike lanes and aim to reduce the number of cars in and near CBD, improve air quality and quality of life!
     
  17. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

    Posts:
    10,877
    Likes Received:
    5,750
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    For the info of the OP and anyone else not living in Australia, public transport systems in Australian state and territory capital cities. Population rounded to the nearest 0.1 million.

    Note - Trains in Australian cities are electric on suburban routes except Adelaide (diesel but they are converting some to electric). Trains for longer distances are, in general, diesel. Buses generally have diesel engines, although a significant number of natural gas powered buses are in use in Australian cities also.

    Sydney (population 4.7 million) - train, bus, ferry are the main means. Plus there's a small light rail (tram) system near the city center.

    Melbourne (population 4.3 million) - train, tram are the main means, plus buses in areas not near a train or tram line (eg catch bus to train station, then take train to city). Trams are a well known and somewhat iconic feature of Melbourne - tourists tend to take photos of them and go for a ride for the sake of it. Melbourne's tram network is the largest in the world at present.

    Brisbane (population 2.2 million) - train, bus and ferry.

    Perth (population 1.9 million) - train, bus.

    Adelaide (population 1.3 million) - bus, train and there's a single tram line (extended a few years ago) which is fairly heavily used especially within the city center area. Adelaide also has a somewhat unusual bus "track" - the O-Bahn. It's basically a concrete track-like road that buses (with minor modifications to make them compatible) run on, then the same bus continues on ordinary roads right into the city center. It has stations along the track in a similar manner as you have stations with a train system. Video of it is here (not the most exciting video but shows how it works). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPhhbF0Ms7g

    Canberra (population 0.4 million) - bus. Notable point about Canberra is that it basically doesn't have traffic congestion, at least not to any significant extent.

    Hobart (population 0.2 million) - bus is the main means and there's a very minor privately owned ferry service (it's a very small operation though). Hobart has relatively minor traffic congestion during peak periods, though not to the point that most would consider it a problem - worst case it adds a few minutes to your trip.

    Darwin (population 0.1 million) - bus.
     
  18. sptrawler

    sptrawler

    Posts:
    14,677
    Likes Received:
    5,562
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2009
    That really is the question Rumpole.

    The problem with public transport is, it is very similar to the problem with the electricity grid, they have to carry excess capacity for peak periods.
    This is why smurph and others say, some things should remain public utilities.
    They provide an essential service, that due to consumer demand is required to be over serviced, therefore are not financially viable.
    To put them in private hands, has to end up with a reduced service or an increased cost.
     
  19. DB008

    DB008

    Posts:
    3,890
    Likes Received:
    234
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Simple answer - Population density

    I was in South Korea a few years ago. WOW. Their metro/tube system (not including buses) is out of this world. Even better than Hong Kong and London...
     
  20. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

    Posts:
    14,033
    Likes Received:
    3,796
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    I agree that some utilities eg power and water should remain in government hands as private enterprise in Australia can't supply sufficient competition to keep multiple supplies in the market. Also refer to the two airline policy which operated for many years when it was obvious that the market could not sustain more competition.

    As for public transport in our cities, it was always assumed that people lived in the suburbs and worked in the CBD, so you had a "spoke to hub" type arrangement of public transport connection systems between the suburbs and the CBD, with little spoke to spoke connection. As the CBD filled up and the cost of office space rose, businesses increasingly moved to some of the suburbs that had previously been residential only. In Sydney, suburbs like Parramatta , Chatswood, North Sydney and recently Castle Hill got turned into mixed residential & business, but the public transport links with them and other suburbs were not present, so pressure was put on the roads.

    That is why there is increasing demand for PT infrastructure like the Epping/Chatswood rail line to accommodate the changing demographics and the shift of business away from CBD's.
     
Loading...

Share This Page