Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Car is top choice in Shepparton

Less than one per cent of Shepparton takes public transport to work.

Shepparton is one of three Victorian electorates with the lowest proportion of people using public transport.

The region ranks in the higher end for proportion of car users.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics census 2016 data, just 0.6 per cent of Shepparton take public transport to work, compared to almost 77 per cent driving.

Traffic congestion is less of an issue in Shepparton than in metro areas with smaller commute times, while the variety of public transport options on offer is also fewer, according to stakeholders.

Urban designer Bruce Echberg, who has completed key projects in Shepparton, said the figures come as no surprise.

He said such a high reliance on cars meant significant amounts of land was taken up by roads and parking.

The reliance serves to spread the city out and compromise environmental outcomes, he said.

The ‘‘acres of car parks’’ in Shepparton, described by Mr Echberg as wasted land, could instead be redeveloped into housing.

Instead of boosting local public transport, he renewed calls to improve cycling infrastructure.

‘‘You have to give up some of the road space for safe bike infrastructure and probably discourage parking more,’’ he said.

‘‘Getting people off roads and on bikes is the solution.’’

Committee for Greater Shepparton chief Sam Birrell said the close proximity from home and work meant using a car remained the easy option for Sheppartonians.

But he said the main game was not to boost local public transport, but to improve rail connectivity to the city.

‘‘What I hear from the community isn’t (demand for) better public transport around Shepparton.’’

‘‘It’s better public transport from Shepparton to Melbourne.’’

Mr Birrell said the easy work commute constituted a major benefit of regional life
‘‘There’s certainly a lot of people out there in Shepparton, driving to work, driving around the countryside, listening to reports of the gridlock in Melbourne, and would be grateful not to be caught up in that.’’

State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said the figures served to reinforce the region’s reliance on the motor vehicle and the need for well-maintained local roads.

Ms Sheed supports a review of local public transport boundaries in Shepparton to ensure provision of service to outer areas was up to date.

Almost 5 per cent of Sheppartonians worked from home last year, according to the statistics.

Mr Birrell said with a proportion of people across Shepparton now connected to the NBN, he would have thought opportunities to work from home would have opened up.

In localised analysis of the 2011 Census data for Greater Shepparton by .id economics, about 77 per cent of people were found to take a car to work, while less than 1 per cent took public transport.

This compared with 71.6 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively in regional Victoria.

Story in today’s Shepparton News by Thomas Moir - “Car is top choice.”

(Those who understand, argue that a successful public transport system must pass "where you are" at least every seven minutes and as that is unlikely in Shepparton then the advice of Bruce Echberg must be taken and particular effort made to make the city proper and it surrounding urban areas cycling friendly, in every sense. 
Beyond that, a special effort must also be made to show people that cycling to work or social events in this flat, weather friendly part of Australia, is both cheap and quick, and beyond that, the use of a bicycle instead of a car, plays a major role in helping Australia meet its international commitments of carbon dioxide emissions - Robert McLean)

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