There is a growing recognition that cities are now being left behind by the digital revolution.
While it is still important to make sure people are getting to work, there are plenty of examples of cities that are struggling to retain staff, improve productivity or keep pace with technology.
The challenge is that the new economy is forcing cities to shift more of their resources from frontline services to a range of less visible but equally vital tasks, according to a report published by the Australian Financial Council.
“We’re being asked to take on a new role, a new set of responsibilities,” said Professor Chris Jelinek, of the University of NSW.
A city’s economic health depends on the health of its transport network, according a report by the Federal Government’s Institute of Regional Development.
There is a lack of understanding about how and where traffic is generated, how much of that traffic is going to be driven by public transport and how much is going through private motor vehicles, the report found.
This lack of clarity and the high cost of congestion management is leading to poor infrastructure and a high level of stress on drivers, the authors of the report said.
“The cost of this has been exacerbated by the shift of economic activity to private motor vehicle ownership and to the use of automated vehicles to transport people,” Professor Jelineks said.
For example, in Melbourne, the use has risen from 25 per cent of all trips in 2011 to 40 per cent in 2020.
In Brisbane, the number of trips in 2020 rose to 50 per cent from 10 per cent, while in Perth, it rose from 13 per cent to 20 per cent.
It is also becoming increasingly difficult for cities to deliver essential services such as sewage treatment and storm water management, which are needed to protect against major disasters.
As cities become more reliant on private vehicles, they are becoming more dependent on private capital.
That means a city cannot rely on private sector investment for all its infrastructure needs, the economists said.
The study, which looked at the performance of 20 Australian cities between 2009 and 2020, found that cities with better performance tended to have lower congestion levels, lower road congestion, lower crime and lower crime per capita.
But the report also found cities that performed worse tended to be in worse economic health.
Professor Jelineking said there were clear differences between urban areas and rural areas, which made it difficult to compare the performance between them.
And even within cities, different types of traffic could have different effects on the quality of transport in a city.
“It’s clear that the more roads there are on a city’s streets, the less there is traffic and the higher the traffic volumes,” Professor Loh said.
“There are lots of different factors that come into play.
There are factors that are associated with crime, there is associated with congestion and there is also associated with a lot of other things that are related to a city like the cost of roads and the cost and the time that it takes to get to work and the amount of congestion that exists in a community.”
For instance, a study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research found that congestion is a key factor in the quality and length of life of Australian workers.
Traffic congestion also increases the risks of car crashes, according the report.
“Traffic volumes are directly associated with crash risk, the rate of collision is associated specifically with the time of day that people are travelling in and the day of the week that people will be travelling in,” Professor Laurie said.
There are also social and economic consequences associated with high levels of congestion, such as increased congestion on roads and higher property prices.
Professor Laurie said the report suggested cities were struggling to adapt to the new realities of the economy.
“They’re struggling to keep up with the new economic realities of this economy,” he said.
But he said that there were ways to reduce congestion and improve the quality or sustainability of transport, and the Federal government was committed to working with the states to deliver a set of new policies.
Topics:community-and-society,public-sector,publications,travel-andtransport,health,travel,parkland-4810,boulder-2862,california,nsw,australiaFirst posted November 20, 2020 07:16:18Contact Erin RainsfordMore stories from New South Wales