Perth's needs a significant increase in road networks, expansion of the reach and efficiency of public transport, and transport networks for other users such as cycling, RAC of WA, Executive General Manager of Advocacy and Member Benefits, Patrick Walker has told a CEDA audience in Perth.
"The revised population growth estimates for Perth show the State Government must urgently bring forward a number of projects, otherwise the peak hour traffic chaos will increase at an accelerating rate," he said.
Mr Walker said the State Government has developed a congestion management response plan, a draft public transport network plan and a draft bicycle network plan.
He said the plans lack a sense of urgency and ambition, "this indicates we are failing as a state to recognise the magnitude of the problem we are facing," he said.
Mr Walker said to the plans real commitment will be shown when dollars are allocated.
On the issue of funding, he emphasised congestion charging was an option, but it needs to be part of a broader reform of taxation on motorists.
"The Henry Tax Review nailed it when it reported the existing structure of fuel tax and other road related taxes are designed to raise revenue and not just cover the cost of infrastructure," he said.
"To date, governments have been unwilling to head down the path (of congestion charging), as they will have to give up significant amounts of revenue.
"Only 33 cents in every dollar collected from WA motorists is returned to the State for spending on roads."
When assessing if congestion charging would be effective, he told attendees we need to consider:
Before motorists can be charged, he highlighted that we need to ensure public transport alternatives are in place before penalising can begin.
You need to make sure you have safe and convenient public transport as an alternative, he said.
In addition, he said the creation of effective land use planning and strategic planning around transportation will also help to improve public transport.
"We (RAC of WA) will make a positive contribution to the debate of how to tackle this problem and make sure West Australians can move about their community, city and state in a safe, efficient and sustainable manner," he said.
CEDA, Chief Economist, Nathan Taylor who launched a CEDA paper, Stifling Success: Congestion charges and infrastructure delivery which proposed congestion charging for Perth, said congestion reduces productivity and can have considerable effects on a city.
"Congestion costs users time, makes journeys unpredictable, exacerbates travels costs, has health impacts and reduces the general amenity of the city," he said.
"The introduction of a peak period congestion charge around the CBD will maximise the use of existing infrastructure and encourage behaviour change."
My Taylor commented that in cities such as London which has successfully implemented congestion charging, the proposal was initially rejected as it was perceived to be revenue raising.
Once the results are felt, he said that the charges were accepted by the community as the revenue from congestion charging were used to fund infrastructure and bring social benefits.
Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute, Integrated Land Use and Transport Researcher, James McIntosh acknowledged that there is an opportunity to integrate public transport and re-urbanisation projects.
He highlighted that this would allow for the coordinated use of land with transport planning enabling better use of urban development in Perth.
As a result, this would increase property values, reduce parking developments and facilitate future investments in transport.