Sustainable Cities™

Perth: Beating urban sprawl

Urban sprawl is a big issue in Western Australia where Perth is the major city. As in many other places, urban sprawl has massive consequences and is difficult to handle. This case is an example of an overall policy leading the way toward a more sustainable future.

Pert_and_the_Swan_River_jul_21_2007_anNZstream_flickr_MK_B
Perth og Swan River, 21. juli 2007, Af anNZstream, Flickr, Creative Commons

Perth is the largest city in Western Australia with a population around 1,5 MIO inhabitants. It is currently the fastest growing region in Australia with 10% growth a year. Western Australia has acknowledged that in order to stop urban sprawl, and pursue a sustainable future, a large plan covering the whole county is necessary. To prevent urban sprawl the planners of Perth have formulated a strategy for a more sustainable future, covering the areas the sprawled everyday life is dependent on.

The tools are a combination of different strategies within public transport, freight transport, cycling and walking combined with behavioural change. The city of Perth has initiated a number of different strategies to make transport in Perth more sustainable.

Today Perth metropolitan public transport includes trains, buses and ferries. The railway system has recently undergone significant redevelopment. A new railway line today connects Perth with Mandurah and doubled the length of Perth railways. Recent initiatives include progressive replacement of the bus fleet  and the introduction of the SmartRider, a non-contact electronic ticketing system (smartcard). Perth provides free bus and train trips around the city centre (the "Free Transit Zone"), including three high-frequency bus lines. Additionally, the railway network has been expanded in the northern and southern suburbs as part of a new MetroRail project.

Perth, 26 May 2006, By Louise, Flickr, Creative Commons


In addition, the city of Perth has applied mobility management strategies to get people to replace some of the car trips with public transport or bike. Using relatively limited resources, effort is put into targeting individual household. Results were a 14% reduction in car trips a day. It turned out there was a huge gap between perception and reality of prise and time usage in relations to public transport, walking and cycling. Typically, people thought their journey would take twice as long as it actually did, and that it would cost a third more than the actual fare.

Western Australia, with Perth as the largest city, is part of the travel smart project. This project supports education of officers in achieving milestones, such as: Developing TravelSmart Action programmes for Councils; integrating travel information and behaviour approaches into the broader policies of Councils; developing local travel information for community events and destinations; engaging with the private sector; developing green transport plans for employees; assisting communities in promoting travel alternatives; and measuring reductions in vehicle kilometres travelled.

The overall mobility scheme for Western Australia is an outcome of 'The State Sustainability Strategy' which covers 42 areas of government. The strategy is based on 11 principles of sustainability and covers 340 policy actions. The process behind the strategy is based on partnerships with local government, community, industry and university researchers. All in all, Western Australia has created an overall strategy including technology, policy and behavioural change as a means to increase the level of sustainability in the region.

"Sustainable transport is not just a case of developing better technology. We must also develop ways of overcoming car dependence" Peter Newman

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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