Forget about the fracas between Uber and taxis, within 10 years you could be dropped off at work or the shops by a driverless car that then leaves the busy city centre to park itself.
And if you have trouble getting to the chemist for your prescription, don’t worry - a drone could drop it off at your doorstep.
These are some of the transport developments occurring right now around the world and that the Redlands needs to consider when planning for its transport and landuse future, according to leading transport academic Associate Professor Matt Burke, Deputy Director and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Griffith University’s Urban Research Program.
Dr Burke is a speaker at the first of three transport forums to be held in November where Redland City
Council, Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Redland City Bulletin want to hear from Redlanders about their transport needs.
The need for better connected and scheduled bus and rail services, more local jobs, getting more
people walking and cycling and a greater investment in public transport are some of the issues Dr Burke sees for the Redlands.
“There are some major challenges for transport and land use in Redlands,” Dr Burke said.
“Through no fault of present administrations, previous generations of planning have been weak. We
have a spatial mismatch, with one of the biggest issues being the lack of jobs in the area. There are very few jobs, especially for white-collar office employees in Redlands.
“That means a tsunami of people travel out of Redlands on road and rail each morning and a tidal
wave come back in the evenings, all wanting to travel at the same time. And they are travelling in the
morning at the same time as the school traffic – it’s a very inefficient system and a great structural problem across Brisbane as well as Redlands.
“Redlands also has very bad connections to universities, so it is difficult for our tertiary students to get to those campuses. And the low-density nature of development in the Redlands, as well as the scale
of funding for public transport, means there is a limited public transport service in the city. It’s also not the best designed network.
“We don’t tend to run buses to trains well in any of our Australian cities. We don’t even connect bus to bus well. There are also issues with the cost of public transport.”
Dr Burke said Zurich and its regional towns were good examples of places doing transport well.
“Swiss mountain villages have 30 per cent of people catching a bus then a train to get to work every day. How do they do it? The answer is that they time and pulse the services to make the journey seamless, easy and irresistible. It is these ‘soft’ solutions that can make the difference.”
Dr Burke said planners often thought they knew what the problems facing a city were but often didn’t.
“Until the community engages in exercises like these forums and actually tells the planners what they
need and what they want, planners won’t have the whole picture,” Dr Burke said.
“We’ve had classic examples in Melbourne. Some people said they wanted a tram, but what they
actually wanted was really good connections to the heavy rail network rather than a 90-minute trip to
Melbourne via tram.
“We need to have those discussions in the Redlands. Some people may rush and say, ‘we need a light rail like the Gold Coast’. Perhaps, but we need to find solutions that are right for Redlands, that are affordable and doable. Some will be short term, in the next one to two years; some will be to cater for the 50,000 additional people expected to come to the city over the next 25 years.”
Dr Burke said it was important to think about how we wanted people in the Redlands to live and travel. “What we don’t want is for them all to bring their car into Cleveland or all try to get to the same shopping
centre in Capalaba,” he said. “We need a greater proportion of travel to be done by more efficient and cost effective modes and we have to make that easy for people. Walking, public transport and cycling are clear areas where we need to improve. That’s not to say we should not invest in roads. That is important too.”
Dr Burke said the city had particular challenges with an ageing population.
“Access to health care, pharmacies and doctors will be increasingly important and that space is changing very quickly,” he said.
“We have companies in the US which have announced that their business model is to deliver prescriptions by drone to people rather than have them pick them up from pharmacies.
“The community transport sector is also often underfunded and poorly coordinated in Australia, with many separate organisations running buses but not coordinating their services or paying drivers to service areas effectively. There are overseas examples where community transport is done very well.”
Dr Burke said driverless cars were already being trialled in Sweden, with Volvo putting 100 on the road.
“More than 60 per cent of the cost for a taxi is related to the driver,” he said.
“We are likely to see the slow bleed of this technology and see it assisting people with their driving over the next 10 years. We may rapidly move to this situation. It is not something in the way distant future.”
Driverless cars may also change the requirement for car parks.
“If a car can go and park itself somewhere else, should Redlands be demanding so much parking at
shopping centres in the future or will we be building expensive, stranded assets? We could end up with giant boxes in the sky that are completely useless.”
Dr Burke said the Redlands should be looking to be resilient and future focused with its transport planning.
“They should be saying ‘we are not sure what will happen but we are going to take some smart steps to make sure we are not making our city dysfunctional in the future’,” he said.