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An integrated and collaborative approach is the solution to managing congestion in our transport system, was the statement echoed to a CEDA audience at the Enhancing Mobility: Managing transport and road congestion event in Melbourne.
"If governments really want to make a difference in complex policy they need to engage networks collaboratively," said National Transport Commission, Chief Officer Strategy, Paul Sullivan.
"Key success factors in driving change are equity, trust and bi-partisanship. We need to move from a cooperative federalism to collaborative federalism," he said.
While Mr Sullivan believed political pressures and priorities would impact on transport strategies and plans, once an overall plan is in place, the general strategic direction could be maintained.
Before this can happen, he highlighted that working with the community to create an informed debate was needed to ensure people understand how infrastructure is formed and funded.
"The national ports strategy is a terrific example of the policy planning people within government getting together with the ports community and some of the logistics experts, to take a whole supply chain approach," he said.
Also reflecting this point, Siemens Limited, Market Analyst - Picture the Future Australia, Matthew Rait said, "Implementing solutions slowly to society coupled with strong government and technology is how to change people's transport habits."
"It is globally acknowledged that an efficient and effective transport system is a key driver for foreign investment. So congestion today is limiting our ability to compete," he said.
"Congestion costs about $11 million per annum. Addressing the transport system will improve our productivity, access to workers, the average working times and enable active transport - resulting in healthier people, and healthier people are two to three times more productive than unhealthy people."
AECOM, Director Strategic Planning and Advisory, Phil Davies told attendees that meeting the needs of our growing population was also impacting heavily on congestion.
"We need to remember a higher population drives higher demand for imported goods, many of which impact on road and rail infrastructure, as well as our ports. Food products are transported from the regions on our rural roads, where the efficient and safe movement of goods is of high importance."
However, he highlighted there was no silver bullet to address congestion, and that we need a range of complementary measures - most importantly maximising outcomes from existing infrastructure.
Victorian Minister for Transport, the Hon Terry Mulder MP said the State Government's focus was on improving existing infrastructure.
Outlining key short, medium and long term actions, Mr Mulder highlighted his plans for rail and road to reduce congestion and improve safety.
"Money will be provided in a way that gives the best return for the system as a whole," he said.
Actions underway to be considered include:
When asked about a timeframe on some of these projects, Mr Mulder said no timeframe would be given until an action had been fully committed to, is feasible and options for funding had been agreed upon.
When questioned if congestion pricing was on the agenda, Mr Mulder said the Government has no policy to introduce it.
Most speakers believed congestion charging was a solution to our roads and an avenue for funding to improve public transport.
Mr Davies emphasised that congestion charging could provide an additional $10 billion for new and existing infrastructure.
"This is a more sustainable way of maintaining, operating and renewing road infrastructure and would improve reliability and certainty."
RACV, General Manager, Public Policy, Brian Negus acknowledged that a road user charge is on the agenda but it is going to be hard for the government to embrace.
"A combination of federal and state funding, but also then a commitment of a public private partnership (PPP) is needed to deliver major infrastructure including freeways and major rail routes," he said.