Urban Taskforce | Policy Agenda
Fact sheet: Compact living and public transport
01 January 2011
Public transport use and higher density living are linked
The evidence consistently shows that the best way to get people onto public transport is to provide opportunities to live and work within walking distance of its transit stations. Research consistently shows that density has a significant impact on the use of public transport.
For instance, every 10 percent increase in population density has been associated with a 6 per cent increase in passenger movements at transit stations. It should be noted that doubling of density has been known to reduce the number of cars and vehicle miles travelled per household by 25 per cent.
Investment in new public transport infrastructure needs to be thought of as an opportunity for more new housing to be accommodated in high quality, well-serviced, locations.
New compact, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighbourhoods should bring together housing, workplaces, shopping and recreation areas within walking distance of public transport.
More compact communities means more services
Furthermore, most urban services cannot be provided unless there are a certain number of people that can make them viable. Extensive research on this issue is available and the general consensus is that along with an increase in residential and employment density, mixed land uses around station areas have become accepted practice as a means of increasing usage rates.
For new transport infrastructure to be a success from day one, there should be sufficient numbers of people living and working in close proximity to the line to ensure its well patronised.
Land use controls in public transport-rich areas need adjustment
If we have any hope of meeting expected housing demand within established inner and middle ring suburbs in our major cities, government must show leadership by ensuring that land use controls in all local areas serviced by high quality transport infrastructure permit additional new compact, pedestrian friendly residential communities.
State and federal governments will be wasting their investment if significant apartment, retail and office development is not also permitted in the areas surrounding transit stations.
As a guide, the development of new compact, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighbourhoods in inner and middle ring suburbs should be permitted in any area that is within:
- 400 metres of a transport corridor serviced by high quality public transport (e.g. buses, light rail); or
- 800 metres of a jetty service by a commuter ferry service; or
- 800 metres of a train station.
This would bring together new apartments, workplaces, shopping, and recreation areas within walking distance of public transport infrastructure and in the vicinity of major transport corridors.
For more information (and source details) please read our fact sheet: