Public transport: Middle class welfare?
This week, The Committee for Perth released the findings from a study called ‘The Rising Cost of Living in Perth’. This report looks at the operating costs for households in Perth. Affordability has been a hot topic in Perth since the millennium, fuelled in large part by the resources boom in Western Australia. Perth is now the 11th most expensive city in the world to live in. Petrol in Perth is amongst the most expensive in the world.
Often household affordability is thought about through the narrow lens of the cost of a house. But this study looks at an important aspect of the operating costs of households: transport costs.
One might think that everyone in Perth is equally impacted by these costs. But that’s not the case. Those on a lower income are doubly impacted. This is because they earn less, and live further out, so they need to use more petrol to get around.
You might think also that these people would instead use public transport, but these suburbs typically have the least amount of access to good quality transport. Therefore, these households need to own more cars than those that live closer to the city. And therefore their household operating expenses are disproportionately higher.
The study finds that Perth’s roads are currently servicing more than 1.55 million vehicles, of which more than 1.14 million are passenger vehicles. Fifty three per cent of the survey respondents who use a car said they do so because of a lack of public transport alternatives.
Mundaring, Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Joondalup have the highest amount of vehicles per household in Perth.
Peppermint Grove, Cambridge and Cottesloe are the top three local government areas to have the highest proportion of households with one or no cars. The average household transport costs are now in excess of $200 per week.
If we are serious about affordability, land use and public transport plans need to respond to these findings.Household expenditure on transport needs to be dealt with, to ensure affordability for those who need it the most.
« The S Factor: Putting sustainability into credit ratings