The objective of the audit was to determine whether the state’s approach to strategic transport planning enables effective use of transport resources and a transport system that is sustainable over the long term.
We assessed whether:
- the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) provides an effective framework for coordinating transport planning that integrates with other government plans
- the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DILGP), DTMR, and local councils effectively integrate land use and transport planning.
DILGP and DTMR are developing the foundations they need to effectively integrate land use and transport planning. Both departments are engaging well with each other and with local councils to develop plans that emphasise the need to integrate land use and transport better than they have in the past.
DTMR’s framework for coordinating transport planning is well designed, but it needs more time to implement all elements within it to be fully effective in coordinating transport planning. Delays in finalising the Queensland Transport Policy and publishing the Transport Coordination Plan 2017–2027 mean there is a lack of certainty over strategic direction. State and local governments are working together to integrate their land use and transport plans, but delays in publishing approved plans and policies could result in a disconnect with strategic priorities. We recognise that delays in finalising plans due to changes in government are not entirely within DTMR’s control.
DTMR and DILGP understand the importance of measuring progress against transport outcomes, but they do not have comprehensive monitoring frameworks in place for all elements yet.
Despite incomplete planning elements, DTMR remains focused on delivering a sustainable transport system. It does this by prioritising its funding towards running and maintaining the existing transport network (which includes repair and renewal) and then investing in new infrastructure, when it can. This is important as renewal of the existing network has been, and continues to be, underfunded. The underfunding has resulted in risks to the sustainability of the transport network. The overall condition of the transport network falls well short of DTMR’s target standards. DTMR forecasts that the renewal backlog on the state-controlled road network will exceed $9 billion over the next decade. Without alternative strategies to address the funding issues, DTMR faces a risk that it will not be able to maintain or improve service standards on the transport network to meet Queensland’s future needs.
The approach to planning in ShapingSEQ focuses on making more effective use of existing resources. This includes:
▪ promoting higher density development, located where transport infrastructure exists
▪ making the best use of existing assets rather than providing new infrastructure
▪ improving the capacity of the public transport system through high-frequency services and connecting these with active transport connections (for example, walking and cycling).
However, while ShapingSEQ’s preferred future is for South East Queensland transport users to have better transport experiences, transport modelling for vehicle travel indicates the opposite is more likely. The modelling of the transport system performance under most of ShapingSEQ’s assumptions shows potential average peak travel times will increase significantly by 2041 compared with 2016 average travel times. The modelling indicates that delivering the intended transport outcomes will require infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions, including new strategies to manage user demand and influence how people travel.
These challenges to managing growth with a transport network that is at risk of deteriorating as a result of insufficient renewal funding, demonstrate how critical it is for DTMR to complete its work on the Queensland Transport Policy. An approved and published policy is needed to clearly communicate the transport challenges Queensland faces and how best to address them