Sunday, April 29, 2012

Public transport fare increases in South East Queensland have been a complete failure

Back in 2009/10 Translink introduced it's new "fare structure" and with it the 15% a year increases in public transport fares. The stated reason, by both then Transport minister Rachel Nolan and Translink was to reduce the percentage of each fare that was subsidised by the government.

From the 09/10 Translink annual report section on fares:
(The new fare structure) "introduces a series of staged fare increases to ensure the long-term sustainability of South East Queensland’s public transport system. These fare increases will enable TransLink to continue to rollout services to meet growing demand, whilst gradually reducing state subsidies to a more sustainable level... TransLink aims to reduce the total subsidy requirement from 75 per cent to 70 per cent of the total cost of delivering public transport services, over a five year period."
Now you might have predicted that 15% a year fare rises would impact negatively on public transport patronage, and that the combination of less passenger growth and more services would outweigh any extra money coming from increased fares. And you'd have been right. Since 2009 the percentage subsidy paid by the government has actually increased to 77%. So not only is the government subsidising a larger percentage of each journey, the dollar amount of subsidy per journey has also increased. Although the entire 5 years period has not yet passed, I think it is already safe to call this policy a complete failure.

Looking at the actual patronage numbers (by comparing the 09/10 Translink report with the latest numbers) it also looks like the strong yearly increases in passengers seen between 2003/04 and 2008/09 have ground to a halt despite new and extra services. With customer satisfaction around affordability also taking a dive, it's not unreasonably to think it is the fare increases that have caused patronage numbers to flat-line.

So what about the future?
The Labour govt who introduced the fare increases is now gone, but it doesn't seem that the new LNP govt have fully learnt the lesson either. Although they have pledged to halve the fare increases, they are still planning yearly fare increases of 7.5% over the next few years. The last three years have shown that big fare increases don't work and don't save money for the government. Instead the state government (and transport minister Scott Emerson) should limit fare increases to CPI and focus on increasing passenger numbers.

HT to BrizCommuter for pointing me towards the latest passenger numbers and for their useful public transport blog.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good on yer Dave

Now for a good news story. The ABC reports that winemaker David Bruer is on his way towards making his already organic winery carbon neutral. To do so he's persuing a number of strategies including lightweight bottles, carbon farming, revegetation and solar power.

Carbon neutral next step for organic winery

Best of luck Dave and I hope other wineries follow in your footsteps.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New ideas needed to combat rising power prices and drive energy efficiency

Power prices have been rising fast over the last few years and are expected to keep in rising into the future no matter what governments do about carbon pricing and clean energy. The major reason (as we have noted before) is all the extra poles and wires that are being put in to maintain and upgrade the electricity network. How much money is this you ask?

"A massive $45 billion over five years is being spent to upgrade and maintain the network, and that cost is being passed onto the consumer."
Basically our electricity network needs enough power plants, poles, transformers and wires to meet peak demand, even though this only occurs a few hours a year. As peak demand rises, more is spent expanding the capacity of the grid and our power bills rise to pay for it.

As the ABC outlines, people are now asking if this is the best way of doing things?

Currently power companies make more money from selling more power, but what if they could also make money from getting people to save energy? And what if households could also benefit financially by saving energy at times of peak demand? This way peak demand could drop, meaning less new poles and wires and lower bills for everyone.

Another benefit of such schemes would be increased energy efficiency, which is a key solution in tackling climate change. So both peoples wallets and the environment would benefit.

See the full story here, or listen to ABC radio program: Energy efficiency: Not in Australia mate!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I love when TT or Sustainability groups just get up and get going.
This is inspiring.....hope you think so too.
The Ultimate Grass Roots Experiment:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

TTKD April Meeting: Making Brisbane a Cycling City

DIY Brisbane -

A low-cost high-impact action plan of how we can all work together to make Brisbane a Cycling City

Presented by Rachel Smith

Thursday April 19
7.15pm for a 7.30pm start
Kenmore Library Meeting Room

The talk will include:

·         Why cycling isn’t in Brisbane’s DNA

·         What Brisbane women (and men!) really want 

·         Targeting the right ‘target’ audience

·         How we can make cycling in Brisbane safer than sitting on the sofa

·         What we can learn from Jamie Oliver

·         Daring to share and sharing success

·         The peer produced city

·         Bottom–up self-organising

·         Emotions and engineering

We are lucky to have Rachel Smith present this months meeting. Rachel is a Principal Transport Planner within AECOM and one of Australia’s leading practitioners of sustainable transport. She has led the active transport team on most of the major transport infrastructure and policy development projects in Queensland. Rachel is part of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a mobile laboratory travelling to nine cities over six years led by international, interdisciplinary teams of emerging talents in urbanism, architecture, technology and sustainability. The Lab addresses issues of contemporary urban life and its goal is the exploration of new ideas, experimentation, and ultimately the creation of forward-thinking solutions for city life. Rachel was nominated by Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota. Rachel is the Founder and Creative Director of ‘Cycling Super Highways’ a vision for 7 metre wide cycleways completely separated from parked and moving cars, Co-Creator of Lazy Sunday Cycle, a crowd-sourced social-media cycling initiative, a freelance writer for multimedia in the UK, USA, China and Australia, a blogger at This Big City and Cycling Rachel Smith, on the curatorial panel for Queensland Arts art + place and guest lecturer at the University of Queensland.

As usual the meeting will be followed by supper and conversation. Please feel free to bring along a plate to share. No need to RSVP.