Relieving the region’s roads

Thu, 27th Apr 2017

Regional Development Australia is working on a plan to reduce traffic congestion. WORDS: Roxanne McCarty-O’Kane.

As the Sunshine Coast Council takes its draft Parking Management Plan and Draft Local Area Parking Plans to the community in a bid to better manage the use of car parks throughout the region, Regional Development Australia’s Sunshine Coast (RDASC) branch is actively working on reducing the number of cars on our roads.

The RDASC is gearing up to launch a ride sharing app later this year to boost multiple occupant travel as opposed to the multiple single-occupancy cars that clog up the region’s road networks.

RDASC CEO Darrell Edwards says the idea came about after he went for one month without a vehicle.

“I tested public transport options, ride sharing with family and others within my network, and also active transport,” he tells My Weekly Preview.

“I have continued since then to use only one vehicle for 90 per cent of the time, which means I have reduced my family’s congestion footprint by 50 per cent.

“What flowed out of that was the need to advocate for increased public transport usage, particularly for those who only use their vehicle to travel to and from work. 

“I am the first to admit that it’s not going to suit everybody, but by converting one or two trips per week to public transport or carpooling, everyone on the Sunshine Coast can help to reduce traffic congestion and the need for car parking spaces.”

Edwards says congestion is becoming more apparent in areas like the entry and exit ramps along the Bruce Highway, the Nicklin Way, Caloundra Road and through the Sippy Downs education precinct. 

The RDASC is working on a transport strategy that advocates for construction of key road infrastructure projects to be brought forward.

“In the meantime, we have a growing population around these key areas and we need to find ways to relieve that congestion. This is why we are embarking on a public and smart transport campaign,” he says.

“We have tried to identify initiatives which will have an immediate impact on congestion while we wait for the major infrastructure projects to be delivered.”

The campaign will kick off next month, with the RDA hosting a forum with a group of the Coast’s largest employers to begin a pilot program. Employees will be actively encouraged to look at public transport alternatives or build carpooling networks.

The campaign will receive another boost later in the year as the RDA launches the app, which will make it easier for Coast residents to share travel costs. 

“We appreciate there is informal carpooling happening on the Sunshine Coast already and we hope that with the help of an app, it will become a lot easier for people to connect and get to and from work in one car,” Edwards says.

“People just jump in their cars purely because of convenience and it is really strange that people who live in Brisbane or Melbourne are used to public transport being their only means of transport, but when they have moved from those capital cities to the Coast, their mindset has changed because of the convenience of a motor vehicle.”

Edwards says travelling on a Go Card is  more economical than paying for fuel, registration and insurance on your own car. 

He believes if the council decides to expand paid parking across the region, it may provide the trigger for more people to reconsider their car usage and look for multiple occupant travel alternatives.