Tuesday, May 5, 2009

THE EVOLUTION OF BRISBANE TRANSPORT

“TRAMS will return to Brisbane streets as part of the biggest
overhaul of the city and its transport network yet.
- Mr Peter Beattie”
Emma Chalmers and Margaret Wenham July 16, 2007 – couriermail.com.au
.
This was what Mr. Peter Beattie, ALP promised...2 years on, a new Premier, but the same party and I cannot see hide nor hair of a tram anywhere...but the murmurings continue, as they have for many years...with many reminiscing of how it use it be when the trams traversed Brisbane.

(The trams stopped running in Brisbane on Sunday 13th of April 1969, at the hands
of the Lord Mayor at the time, Clem Jones, ALP. At the height of the Brisbane service,
the network consisted of over 109km of track, most of the lines running through Adelaide
or Queen Streets, from one side of Brisbane’s inner city suburbs to the other.)

(1999 Proposal for Trams in Brisbane)

Some argue, with the changes that have occurred to our roads recently, the dramatic increase in population and in turn traffic in Brisbane’s CBD and inner city suburbs, the space required to accommodate the
re-introduction of the trams just cannot be afforded.
Instead the Brisbane City Council and State Governments have decided to turn their focus towards TOD’s (transit oriented developments) in Brisbane’s outer suburbs, encouraging diversified commercial hubs that reduce the focus or requirement for high numbers of people to make their way into the CBD. If you are like me, you enjoy the city, with its tall buildings, the river, the restaurants and cafes, the markets, the gardens, the museums, the art gallery, Southbank, the high end shops, and unless they intend on moving these also, you too will still travel to the city.
The TOD’s principal has merit, however I would propose there are many more of us who live somewhere in between the two, that is reside between the CBD and these proposed TOD’s, who are currently serviced by one of the biggest blights on Brisbane, the poor public transport system. I have lived the best part of my life a 15min drive from the city by car, however that puts me the best part of a 40min walk to the closest train station not including waiting time and train ride to the city, or a 45min bus ride, which does go past my door but only every hour. Given the option, which one of the three would you choose?

Also there is the CBD itself, in comparison to many other major cities it is small, and will probably continue to stay so, as there is only so far you can walk in the summer months without burning to a crisp or melting away, and even in the fairer seasons, it’s all about efficiency and time constraints, the Circle Bus, just does not cut the mustard.
If you have visited other major cities around the world, you will have noticed two things, 1- When travelling your focus is always “the City”, 2 – The larger of these cities usually have a layered fabric of alternate transport systems allowing you ease of movement around the central precincts as well as to those neighbouring these central areas. Take London, they have "the tube", the double decker buses, overland trains, water ferries all supported by black cabs , registered private taxis and rickshaws in the West End precinct. In Hong Kong, on the island, they have an elaborate raised covered pedestrian walkway interconnecting many of the towers through the air-conditioned malls and allowing for separation of pedestrians and traffic and ease of navigation around the city. Venice, a city of its own, based around the water on which it is built, has Vaporetti, Traghetti, private water taxis, gondolas and of course the ease of pedestrian access if you are one of those lucky enough to be born with a keen sense of direction.

(London - Underground "the Tube" Map)



(Venice's Vaporetti)

What I propose is composite of all these approaches, firstly a SKYTRAM, a gondola carriage system suspended over the streets of Brisbane, requiring less support or structure than an elevated monorail, following the current street design, running on much the same timetable as the Trams did in Brisbane, or do in Melbourne, or as the tubes do in London. Stations would sit supported above our roads doubling as raised pedestrian crossings and in time through a proactive city plan new developments would be encouraged to link on their 1st level, creating air-conditioned corridors through the CBD. The SKYTRAM would look to new power solutions through the utilization of a combination of alternative power sources, and in addition would provide Brisbane with a novel character of its own.
The second approach which I believe would also go toward reinvigorating our city through a more efficient transit system, would be the introduction of water taxis, the City Cats are a great start, although they could do with more stops along the river and larger service area, a water taxi service much like those in Venice, might go to encourage the development of the water’s edge of our river, something until only recently has been down played, the river should be a selling point of our city and life blood for our tourist trade.

(Artist's Impression of Northbank Proposal)

The NORTHBANK proposal for the activation of the Brisbane river’s edge may have shocked many through its density and scale, however its ambition to turn what is currently a transit corridor neglecting prime real estate and river front into an activated pedestrian corridor open to all, enjoying the river and views across to Southbank, the Museums and the Art Gallery was one of its greatest merits. Through a combination of these approaches, by providing more convenience and ease of access around our city, we would only go to grow our city centre, increasing our appeal to many, including international events, business and tourism, and in turn benefit all of us.

So how about it?... All Aboard?...