A couple of member contributed articles for March including the formation of Transport for NSW and the rise of SUVs and their impacts on health and safety. Some names have not been published at the request of the writer.
A rose by any other name?
The NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has ceased to exist following assent of the Transport Administration Amendment (RMS Dissolution) Bill 2019. RMS functions have now been transferred into Transport for NSW.
The Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance and the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the passage of the Bill marked a historic shift for all transport. “The passing of this Bill enables a more integrated and strategic approach to transport for everybody in the State, leading to better roads and services,” Mr Constance said. “With a single transport agency we will no longer have roads being built in one corner and transport delivered in another, without anybody talking to each other.
NSW has had a long history of separate road, rail, bus, traffic, transport and port agencies responsible to individually separate ministers. Of course, the activities of these agencies had numerous overlaps that led to some difficulties within the organisations and delays in service delivery. Similarly, there were issues with overlapping ministerial responsibilities. Fortunately at present there is one minister covering transport, roads and maritime issues although he is supported(1) by a another minister for regional transport and roads.
The recent Sydney to Melbourne train derailment and fatalities highlighted higher level national issues as the train was operated and serviced by NSW but running on a track in Victoria that is maintained and operated by the federal government through the Australian Rail Track Corporation. Further, the train driver was employed by Transport for NSW TrainLink, the pilot in the train with the driver was working for ARTC, and Victoria's V/Line and Metro Trains Melbourne had both issued instructions for automatic speed restrictions along dangerous sections of track. Of course the question is "Who was in charge?"
The rise of SUVs and impacts for health and safety
Tom van Vuren
Early February tragedy struck when in a Sydney suburb a drink driver mounted the footpath and killed 4 children with his 4WD utility. How dangerous is the trend to larger and heavier vehicles for pedestrians?
Worldwide 1 in 4 cars sold is an SUV, according to a Guardian article in October 2019; in the period 2010-2018, SUVs doubled their global market share from 17% to 39%. And in Australia this trend is also visible; last year almost half the new cars sold were SUVs, up from just over 20% ten years ago.
As early as 2003 an article in the New Scientist warned of the dangers of SUVs. Their statistics show that the fatalities per 1000 impacts between a single vehicle and a single pedestrian increase from just over 40 for a car, to around 80 for compact SUVs and almost 120 for large SUVs.
The rise of SUVs has been blamed for a doubling in pedestrian deaths in cities in the US in the period from 2009 to 2016. Pedestrian deaths in Australia have remained relatively stable, at around 170 per year since 2010, despite the increase in larger vehicles on the road. That’s no reason for complacency though: every road death is a tragedy, and in Oslo not a single pedestrian was killed on the roads in 2019.
Those who are worried about the impact of road vehicle emissions on public health also have a bone to pick: according to the same Guardian article, SUVs were the second largest contributor to the increase in global carbon emissions from 2010 to 2018.
What does this mean for us as transport planners? We need to monitor the trend in pedestrian deaths: in Europe statistics have been creeping up slowly in the past few years. And for us modellers, it’s not just modelling car ownership that matters, but also car choice. With an increasing focus on wider impacts of projects and policies rather than mainly travel time benefits, SUVs may well become as important a new mode to represent as e-scooters.
Alan Finlay supplied an extra thought:
I would add that increasing vehicle size has an impact on the design of car parks and other infrastructure. The relevant Australian Standard uses a B85 (85th percentile dimensions) vehicle as a ‘standard’ car, but many SUVs and utes would be much larger.