When the case for big transport projects is made without due analysis, we risk building the wrong projects. The result is we waste billions of dollars and rob ourselves of the infrastructure our booming cities need to be more liveable. Given how fast our big cities are growing, we simply can’t afford to make decisions based on limited or misleading information. Yet this keeps happening.
Two stark examples – proposed rail links to Western Sydney and Melbourne airports and road congestion charges – illustrate the problem in different ways.
The proposed airport rail links show how governments continue to make huge taxpayer commitments to projects before they are able to articulate the costs, benefits and risks.
In the case of proposed road congestion charges we see an important reform languishing. This is because when reforms rest on obscure or unclear analysis they inevitably fail to generate public support.