The automation and electrification of mass transit is a potentially revolutionary development in transport. Done well, it has the potential to make our cities and regions cleaner, greener, more accessible and more liveable. It also has the potential to make our cities and regions more productive and sustainable.
Achieving this outcome will demand vision and leadership from government. The Committee’s previous report, Building Up & Moving Out, set out a blueprint for the planning of our cities and regions at a national, regional and local scale. It identified opportunities for transforming connectivity and accessibility through integrated, multi-modal, transport networks. This current report is an extension of that previous work.
Mass transit is the key to creating better connectivity and mobility. Automation and electrification will make mass transit safer, more efficient, cleaner and quieter. But they will also demand changes in the regulatory environment and the physical and communications infrastructure of our transport networks. This will require careful planning and substantial investment, with policy responses framed around the different requirements of cities and regions, greenfield and brownfield sites.
Ideally, our transport networks will consist of integrated multi-modal networks— seamless transport systems operating across a variety of transport modes, connected by information exchanges (such as mobile apps) between users and network owners and managers, with seamless ticketing—creating Mobility as a Service (MaaS). These networks will serve cities and regions that are characterised by densification and decentralisation. Mass transit has an important role to play, providing high-volume trunk routes as the arteries of the transport network, with shared mobility and active transport providing the capillaries of the system. It is important to recognise that while automation can contribute to the connectivity of less densely populated areas, it should not be allowed to contribute to urban sprawl. The goal should be the creation of a new transport ecosystem.
This report consists of four chapters.
Chapter 2 will explore the wider context of automation before examining the benefits of transport automation. It will then examine specific aspects of automated rail and road mass transit, before analysing the need to develop integrated transport systems joining mass transit system to the wider transport network. It will then consider some of the implications of the transition to automation.
Chapter 3 will examine the benefits of electrification (battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles) of the vehicle fleet and the convergence between electrification and automation, before looking at the infrastructure requirements of electric vehicles, including charging stations, and their interaction with the energy sector. It will then focus on hydrogen as a source of energy for the vehicle fleet and the particular infrastructure requirements of the hydrogen sector. Finally it will consider the benefits of the revolutionary Hyperloop transport technology.
Chapter 4 will identify what stakeholders see as the role of government in the development of automated mass transit and new energy sources, before giving an overview of current Australian Government activity in this area. It will then examine specific policy priorities related to the development of automated mass transit and new energy sources.
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