We are driving less, but the East West link assumes we will drive more

The business case for the East-West link was slammed by the auditor’s general  report last month.

Terry Mulder last December, justified the need for the East-West link on the assumption that traffic on the West Gate Bridge will increase from 160,000 vehicles per day to an unsustainable 235,000 in twenty years time.

Watch the video: http://youtu.be/4erhH3ACZv8?t=1m10s

He does not say whether he considers 235,000 vehicles per day a problem or a desirable objective.

Nor does he mention demand management to ensure it never goes that high.

But even without demand management,  there is now evidence of a strong trend since 2001 that we are driving less.

In his blog, The Urbanist, Alan Davies lists numerous possible reasons to explain the decline in driving:

  • Demand for travel is saturated – almost everything we want to get to is now within a reasonably short drive.
  • Higher levels of traffic congestion and slower average speeds – it’s too hard nowadays to travel long distances within our capital cities.
  • The population is getting older – retired people spend less time on day-to-day travel
  • Greater reliance on electronic communication – there is more scope to work and conduct personal business, shopping, banking and social networking without travelling.
  • Home offers more entertainment options than in the past e.g. computer and TV, reducing the need for travel
  • Driving costs more – although cars are cheaper to buy, insurance is expensive for young drivers, drink-driving penalties are severe, and obtaining a driver’s licence is both arduous and expensive
  • Young people stay longer in full-time education, carry debt on student loans and experience high rates of under-employment – they’re demand for travel is lower as is their ability to buy and operate a car.
  • More air travel – more time is spent on overseas holidays and business trips and hence not driving at home.
  • The age at which people have their first child is later, reducing the utility of car ownership
  • Shopping centres – larger, more diverse centres with longer-lasting perishables mean fewer shopping trips are necessary
  • Migrants and overseas students studying in Australia generally come from countries where car use is much lower so they’re less inclined to use a car here
  • Better public transport services have attracted travellers away from cars – most Australian cities enjoy improving service frequencies, a longer span of operating hours, and in some cities extended networks.
  • Less emphasis on cars as coming-of-age symbols – changing mores mean there’s less need for a “shaggin’ wagon”
  • Smartphones have replaced cars as a means of providing social connection.
  • Cars are now commodities and are no longer as useful in signalling status as they once were
  • Slowing in the growth of female workforce participation – the dramatic growth of the last 40 years, which increased travel, has slowed. There’s a small fall in male participation.
  • More people live at higher densities in accessible locations like the inner city – cars aren’t essential and parking is in any event too expensive or too hard to find
  • The number of jobs has grown much faster in the city centre in recent years, where public transport is at its most competitive, than in the suburbs. Traffic congestion and high parking charges makes driving to the CBD less attractive.
  • Greater awareness of the negative environmental implications of car travel and the health benefits of active travel mode