The Future of Transport

Posted on: Tuesday, 30 September 2014 at 10:26:30 AM

The AICC(WA) Future of WA Transport Event featuring Reece Waldock Director General Transport was held on 23 September 2014

As attested by the city skyline view from the office of King & Wood Mallesons, the landscape of Perth is rapidly changing, bringing transport related challenges to the fore.  A combination of major public infrastructure projects, urban infill, and a public culture shift concerning public transport combine to deliver solutions to the growing cost and commuter frustration caused by congestion. 

The Public Transport Authority (“PTA”) has been charged with delivering an integrated portfolio approach to optimise effectiveness of the transport network as a whole and deliver future capacity to a growing State.

Mr Reece Waldock entered the public sector having held a number of senior management roles within BHP.  He was appointed the inaugural CPO of the Public Transport Authority in 2003, and in a post-reform environment continues with to oversee an expanded agency incorporating the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Addressing the AICC(WA) on the topic of “The Development of Perth’s Future Transport Networks”, Mr Waldock contextualised both the progress and the vision of the PTA.  The agency is charged with prioritising and delivering major and capital intensive infrastructure projects to meet public expectation. 

 Mr Reece Waldock

 Mr Reece Waldock, Director General, Department of Transport

 Mr Waldock spoke passionately about the pending $3.5 billion dollar investment into the freight network, noting that the rate of freight growth is outpacing the rate of population growth by double.  As an export state, the ability to deliver an effective network for the transport of physical goods is critical to the ability of Western Australia to maintain a competitive advantage.  Freight rail, ports, and industrial road transport has historically worked well for Perth, but increased congestion and a lack of optimum efficiency within the supply chain have contributed to an increased cost base for the freight industry.  The cost of congestion to the economy is currently quantified at $1.6 billion per annum.

The broader context of the PTA’s work is driven by both demographic and attitudinal change.  The ability to forsee transport demand in 20 years time and beyond needs to be balanced against immediate, costly, and competitive needs is a delicate discussion, not only in the political arena, but also as an operational discourse.     

In his remarks, Mr Waldock noted that the metropolitan population has grown from approximately 400,000 in the 1960s to greater than 2 million people.  This will further grow to 3 million in the next 20 years, and to 5 million in the decades beyond that.  The “big city” problems emerging now require discussion that extends beyond road development to car ownership, optimising traffic flow, underground transit, and new public transport networks.  An example includes the recently announced Airport rail link that will unlock the eastern suburbs and hills to efficient public transport for the first time.

 Forum

 There were five distinct areas of development that Mr Waldock mentioned as core areas of focus to alleviate congestion;

  •  Embrace public transport development as part of the solution
  • Proceed with major arterial route expansion for freight roads
  • Utilise intelligent transport systems and technology to better manage real time use of roads
  • Address demand management through education and charging regimes that resource sustainable road development
  • Promote and measure the benefits of urban infill for Perth suburbs

The concluding message from Mr Waldock was that the ability of the public to embrace large scale infrastructure at the design phase was often stifled by resistance to change.  Exemplified by projects such as the Mandurah rail, Hillarys Boat Harbour, and creating a third lane in the Graham Farmer tunnel, it wasn’t until the benefits could be seen and appreciated that opposition subsided.  Mr Waldock referenced the current project activity such as MAXX light rail, Elizabeth Quay, and the Burswood Stadium as infrastructure development that would transform Perth lifestyles, inclusive of commuting habits.  His plea was for people to “fall in love with these projects earlier, rather than later”.  

The AICC(WA) acknowledges the sponsorship that supported Reece Waldock’s presentation from key service providers to the local transport industry.   

Gary Casham, Enterprise Account Executive of ServiceNow, an ICT Cloud Company, noted that they too operate in a radically changing environment.  Whilst there is a proliferation of ICT application development to support new transport infrastructure, service delivery is where the greatest value is added. 

Similarly, host Julianna Jorissen, Partner at King & Wood Mallesons delivers the transport market complex supply arrangements utilising the company’s Asian regional expertise. 

Juliana Jorissen, Reece Waldock, John Cluer, Gary Casham From L to R - Ms Juliana Jorissen, Partner, King & Wood Mallesons, Mr Reece Waldock, Director General, Department of Transport, Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA), Mr Gary Casham, Enterprise Account Executive, ServiceNow 

As the stunning view from their office continues to further develop with major construction projects, the funding models and structures under which public infrastructure is delivered will continue to evolve. 

It is comforting to know that effective strategic direction and respected agency leadership is driving change, and delivering the future capacity of a transport network that is so critical to the future of Western Australia’s economic prosperity.

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