Science and Technology

Innovative local transport: Community transport of the future

Innovative local transport

This project will investigate the systemic issues, opportunities, and barriers for overcoming transport disadvantage and enhancing community transport in Australia.

While transport innovation goes from strength to strength, significant challenges remain in harnessing this to enhance transport inclusion – including systemic complexities, jurisdictional differences, and lingering barriers to innovation.

It will:

  • Holistically assess the current policy, funding, and service delivery ecosystems for community transport (and adjacent or equivalent services) across Australian jurisdictions.
  • Consider how the features of the current policy and delivery landscape may impact the current and potential availability, choice, efficiency, and flexibility of transport services, as well as the quality of services and customer experiences.
  • Identify opportunities, barriers, and international learnings for making better use of innovative technologies to enhance services.
  • Develop insights on systemic, cross-cutting issues to inform future policy and delivery approaches.


Project background

Transport disadvantage can be the result of many complex geographical, social, economic, cultural, built environment and other factors – but essentially refers to difficulties associated with accessing transport. It is typically due to a combination of:

  • poor access to fixed public transport infrastructure and services
  • lower frequency services
  • challenges accessing services for mobility
  • affordability or other reasons
  • high car dependence and costs of car travel
  • the need to travel further distances to access jobs and services

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Specific subgroups of the population (e.g. families with young children, people with a disability, Indigenous Australians and vulnerable lower-income groups), as well as by those living in specific geographical areas (e.g. outer-urban ‘fringe’, inner-regional, and more rural/remote areas of Australia) are most likely to experience transport disadvantage.

Like many developed countries, Australia has a high median age with a relatively large proportion of its population aged 65 and over. With population projections indicating significant growth the profile of the older population is also projected to change. In 2017, 15% of Australians (3.8 million) were aged 65 and over; this proportion is projected to grow steadily over the coming decades.

While transport disadvantage can be a particular challenge for those living in regional and remote areas – where populations may be lower and more dispersed, with fewer services and less infrastructure – it also remains a major challenge in urban areas. The Commonwealth Government’s State of the Environment 2016 report highlighted evidence of transport disadvantage challenges in outer urban areas (see figure below).

Accessibility to public transport, capital cities, 2011. Source: Livability: Transport Built Environment , part of ‘Australia: State of the environment 2016’

Further 2018 research by Infrastructure Australia also demonstrated that Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, for example, each have over 1 million people in outer urban areas who are not within a reasonable walking distance of medium- to high-frequency public transport (representing 42%, 64% and 80% of population in those areas, respectively).

Project objectives

This research undertakes to deliver a study to inform government policy and investment and help enable government and industry to bring technology advances to market to improve local and community transport outcomes.

The key objectives of the project are to:

  • Conduct a holistic review of policy, funding and service delivery ecosystems for enabling transport inclusion in Australia, as well as opportunities and barriers for making better use of innovative technologies, and develop insights to inform future policy, investment and delivery.
  • Provide evidence-based analysis, insights and guidance on strategic whole-of-government issues, options and priorities for enabling and accelerating innovative, flexible, cost-effective, and accessible transport services, which are aligned to community needs.
  • Establish an effective collaborative approach to deliver involving multiple government, university, technology industry and transport service providers, and additionally engage a diverse range of stakeholders to inform the research.
  • Publish the research in an industry paper to promote and inform further work and discussion, with a view to helping government and industry bring forward innovative solutions that address community needs and unlock the benefits of technology in the near-term to enhance transport inclusion.

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