While Australia is rapidly urbanising, we are still unflinchingly suburban, with nearly 50 per cent of us living in the outer suburbs of our five largest cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
Over the next 30 years, Australia will grow by more than 11 million people, and much of this growth will be in the outer reaches of our cities.
A new report by Infrastructure Australia has warned that the outer urban areas of our cities are being left behind. More than four million suburban city-dwellers do not have frequent public transport services within walking distance of their home.
Inadequate access to public transport is driving disadvantage, limiting access to employment, education and other social infrastructure, which can have a tangible impact on quality of life.
The report defines walking distance as 800 metres to a suburban rail service and 400 metres for other services. A medium to high-frequency service is defined as four or more services during weekday morning peak times.
Residents in Melbourne’s outer suburbs have the worst access to public transport – with 1.4 million people, or 62 per cent, without access to frequent public transport services within walking distance.
More than 1 million people in Sydney and Brisbane also fall into this category, while half a million Perth residents and 200,000 Adelaide residents live with inadequate access to public transport.