Article Reference #9

In Australia transport emissions account for only 10.5% of average household greenhouse gas emissions1. What is more, high-density imposed on communities hardly reduces per person travel intensity at all.  A Melbourne (State of Victoria) study2 shows that people living in newly converted dense areas did not use public transport to any greater extent and there was little or no change in their percentage of car use after the conversion.

Developers recognise that units without parking are not saleable. In Melbourne medium density housing projects located near commercial or transit centres invariably include one or two parking places per dwelling3.  The initial developers of a 5.7ha site near Sydney Central Station abandoned their proposed development of the huge multi-unit project mainly because authorities insisted that a maximum limit of 60% of the units could be allocated parking4. This abandonment was in spite of the fact that the site could not be in a better location for public transport, being adjacent to the central railway station and major bus routes that radiate out from the locality.

In Sydney some eighty per cent of journeys undertaken are not work related5. For many journeys (including travelling to locations outside the city centre, attending children’ sport and recreational activities, transporting pets and visiting friends), public transport is unsuitable or even forbidden such as for bulky goods or pets, as well as being too inconvenient and time-consuming to be of practical benefit.

It should also be noted that in Sydney the emission difference between the use of public and private transport modes is surprisingly small. Greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre for the Sydney rail network, transporting around 500,000 passengers each day, is 105 grams6.  The figure for automobiles in Australia, assuming an average seat occupancy of 1.3, averages 155 grams and it is much less for modern fuel-efficient vehicles that emit a mere 70 grams. It needs to also be considered that direct point-to-point travel distances by personal transport are frequently less than that for equivalent public transport journeys, so further reducing the energy difference.

1 Consuming Australia, Australia Conservation Foundation 2007
 (in collaboration with University of Sydney and  NSW Environmental Trust)
2 Hodgetts, C.J.B. (2004) Urban Consolidation and Transport, Masters Thesis (Melbourne, University of Melbourne). 
3 Birrell, B., O’Connor, K., Rapson, V., Healy, H., Planning Rhetoric Versus Urban Reality, Melbourne 2030, Monash University Press, Victoria, 2005, pp. 2-17
4 Melish, M., Moore sticks to her community mandate, Australian Financial Review, 24-28 March 2005
5 2008/09 Household Travel Survey Summary Report, 2010 Release, NSW Transport, Sydney
6 RailCorp letter 28 October 2007 in response to a Freedom of Information application by the author