Whether by public or private means, transport is fundamental in ensuring access to services and supports participation in civil society through maintaining connections with family and friends and engaging in community activities. Transport is a key part of supporting the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of an individual.
In spite of this fundamental role played by transport, many people are unable to access and use the type of transport services that meet their needs. This is commonly referred to as transport disadvantage. In NSW, transport disadvantage is particularly prevalent in Sydney’s outer metropolitan areas and in the state’s rural and regional areas. Groups particularly at risk of experiencing transport disadvantage include older people, people with disability, families with young children, youth, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and indigenous communities.
Transport disadvantage can arise from:
The NSW Government should introduce a social transit agenda to work alongside its mass transit agenda. There has been a heavy focus on commuter services, with increasing peak services and re-routing buses along major thoroughfares with fewer stops, at the expense of off-peak, non-commuter services. This has made public transport increasingly difficult for older people and people with disability to use. A social transit agenda would aim to deliver a minimum level of service so that most currently transport disadvantaged groups were able to access transport most of the time.
The NSW Government should introduce Demand Responsive Transport services to improve public transport access for people who are unable to catch traditional public bus services, as has been introduced in other parts of Australia and overseas. As the name suggests, Demand Responsive Transport allows passengers to call for a bus service within a specified area. This service is flexible, with the major benefit being that it is not restricted to a specified route.
Investment in CountryLink services needs to be increased. CountryLink is a vital means of transport for many living in rural and regional areas. Improving services will also make CountryLink an attractive means of travelling around NSW. CPSA also supports using rail motors on lines that are no longer used, such as that between Casino and Murwillumbah. In this vein, rail lines must be maintained and those that have been closed should be reopened. Train travel is often the best mode of transport for older people and people with disability (as opposed to buses and coaches, which are often unsuitable).
Train timetabling should be designed so that services are efficient and do not cause unecessary inconvenience for users of the service. An example of poor timetabling is CountryLink services between Dubbo and Sydney. People travelling by CountryLink from Sydney to Dubbo must set aside three days to make the return trip because of the poor timetabling, as there is no afternoon service to return to Dubbo.
The NSW Government should expand eligibility of the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme to all who are in receipt of residential aged care services and to improve their ability to get to essential services. The Australian Government should introduce a transport supplement to provide funding for transport services for people in residential aged care.
The NSW Government should abolish the older driver test as the test has no proven benefit, and there is no evidence that transport safety has improved for both older people and the wider community since its introduction.
Greater funding is required for Community Transport and Transport for Health services to meet the needs of a growing population who are not able to use public transport. Funding for the Community Transport Program has not been increased for at least a decade and health-related transport is taking an increasing share of community transport resources, reducing the ability of providers to meet other needs of other community transport users. These services received no attention in the NSW Metropolitan Transport Plan and this should be addressed.