POSITIVE STEPS: RAIL Back On Track spokesman Robert Dow believes simple changes could make all the difference to Ipswich's public transport network.
POSITIVE STEPS: RAIL Back On Track spokesman Robert Dow believes simple changes could make all the difference to Ipswich's public transport network. Rob Williams

Review shows urgent need for public transport overhaul

SOME "straight forward" changes will make all the difference to Ipswich's struggling public transport network.

One prominent public transport advocate believes the framework is there to get more cars off the road following the release of damning statistics into the city's use of buses and trains.

Ipswich City Council announced it would work closely with the State Government and other stakeholders to implement four specific actions highlighted by the iGO Public Transport Advocacy and Action Plan, to accommodate an Ipswich population that is set to more than double to 520,000 by 2041.

These include council's previous commitment to develop the Strategic Business Case for the Ipswich to Springfield public transport corridor, a review of council's internal development policies and standards for public transport, a review of parking strategy in activity centres and advocacy for a joint planning study with the State Government regarding the future development of the Ipswich bus network.

A review of the existing Ipswich public transport network found resident satisfaction was low - 39 per cent were unhappy or very unhappy.

Although 50 per cent of Ipswich workers work within the Ipswich Local Government Area, only two per cent use public transport to get to their place of employment.

The report stated the need for effective public transport was becoming increasingly urgent in Ipswich and the city could not afford to build its way out of congestion by adding more space just for cars. It stated there needs to be a significant shift to more sustainable transport modes and iGO set an aspirational transport mode share of 11 per cent by 2031.

RAIL Back On Track spokesman Robert Dow welcomed the council's approach but believed a goal of between 20-25 per cent was achievable.

"They're looking at fixing the bus network up first... what we need to do is use what we've got better," he said.

"We've got the basics of a good bus network. "Now is the time to strike. It's pretty straight forward what needs to be done. Start the buses earlier and finish them later, improve the frequency so they're all running every 15 minutes in peak and every 30 minutes out of peak and look at the timings so there's better connections with the various rail stations that the bus routes service.

"That alone would drive quite a significant patronage gain and would start to life mode share. It doesn't take big dollars and big infrastructure improvements... , it doesn't take billions of dollars, just service money and service improvements."

Effective public transport will encouraged drivers to get cars off the roads

AFTER trips to Sydney and Melbourne, RAIL Back on Track spokesman Robert Dow does not want to see those levels of road congestion replicated back home.

The Ipswich public transport advocate said unless we sorted out our own problems soon, it would become unmanageable.

"We've got a little bit more time... but we haven't got much more time," Mr Dow said.

The key to getting more cars off the road was an effective and attractive public transport network and unless things ran smoothly, getting from one to the other was a hard ask.

"An important point about the western bus network is all of our bus routes connect to a railway station somewhere," he said.

"Quite often people come in on say the 522 from Springfield into Goodna which is running late and so they miss their connecting train.

"In our region our buses are very important in terms of supporting the rail network. Park and ride is a limited resource. You need to make sure there is a better way of getting to the station than just driving.

"What we call feeder bus networks, buses designed deliberately to feed railway stations, need to be looked at as well." There are more complaints about 522 than any other bus route in the western region I understand."

Mr Dow said new more feeder bus networks needed to be set up, particularly to cater for the growing hub of Springfield.

"Springfield is a disaster," he said.

"It's got the same bus network when the line opened in 2013 essentially and I think the population has almost doubled in that time.

"We've got enormous park and ride issues at Springfield Central. There isn't an adequate bus feeder service."