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A 30-minute Sydney is an ambitious but achievable goal – it will be the combination of our efforts that can make it a reality. We sat down with Tessa Knox-Grant, Director of Metropolitan Strategy at Transport NSW, to find out what improved liveability means for transport.
Sydney is an incredibly liveable city. But it doesn’t always rank highly on liveability indices and one of the reasons for that is transport.
The geographic concentration in the way the city has developed is imbalanced. We’re bound by the ocean and while most of the economic activity is in the east, the most recent population growth is in the west. This inequity requires us to think differently about ways in which to rebalance growth and investment to ensure this does not perpetuate. The time it takes to commute to work, or to get anywhere, impacts on our quality of life. It’s a measure of the time that we’re not doing that ‘something else’ that we’d rather be doing or that is more fulfilling.
A truly liveable city is one with a range of choices in how to get around and how to access things. Transport should not be a barrier to that. The definition of liveability is a personal thing and it depends on individual context. We tend to think in terms of ‘what is liveable for me’, but people value access differently and need different levels of access to different places – for example if they do shift work or have specific health needs. Liveability is about access to work, healthcare, transport – and essential services are fundamental – but in addition to that, it also needs to be about access to things that we want, not just things that we need.
There are lessons to be learned, but each place has its own unique considerations. London for example, has a very well connected transport network – people don’t need to go through the centre of London to access different places of interest. Well connected networks provide route choice, provide additional resilience to the network (e.g. if there is a route failure in one area) and disperse demand across the network. London has also used regeneration opportunities to shape the concentration of employment nodes such as in Canary Wharf and East London. Investment in public transport has supported the development of these places.
A 30-minute city requires coordination and collaboration between different agencies and areas of government. A catalyst, such as the Olympics in London or the new Badgerys Creek airport in Sydney is often helpful and important, but vision is also required. Liveable cities don’t develop overnight – we need to put the building blocks in place – so that as a city evolves, it does so with a clear vision in mind.
As such we need to take a long term view. Future Transport 20567 is a state wide, long term plan that outlines the kind of things that we need to consider in a broad sense that are not spatially specific, such as growth, demographic changes and the impact of technology. These in turn, provide the frame for the plan for Greater Sydney. The next half century will bring about a lot of changes that we can’t predict, but we need to try to take a longer term view to explore and understand the full impact of the decisions and investments we are making now.
Niki Alcorn is the Office Managing Partner for Sydney. She is a Technology, Media and Telecommunications specialist and a Strategy Partner in the Consulting team. Niki has over 12 years of experience in corporate and business unit strategy, digital strategy and business transformation projects, working with many leading Australian organisations within TMT and more broadly.