Good management (or "governance") is an essential ingredient for public transport that works. Other ingredients are also important - like adequate funding, suitable infrastructure and good landuse planning1 - but good governance is what brings them all together.

In other words, every major city needs a central Public Transport Authority (PTA) to take responsibility for the likes of:

  • planning for the future with genuine public participation;
  • integrating services - trains, trams & buses - into a seamless network for "go-anywhere" convenience, not just services to and from the CBD;
  • proactively fixing the root causes of delays, cancellations and over-crowding; and
  • providing a "one-stop-shop" for the public and other agencies.

The best part about a Public Transport Authority is that it won't take billions of dollars and years of major construction work to set up. A PTA can be up and running almost straight away working on real solutions to our city's transport crisis. Tell your MP that your city needs a Public Transport Authority.

Chart: Percentage of rail services on time
Helsinki: 99.96%; Stockholm: 94.8% (on metro); Vancouver: 95.26% (within 2 minutes of scheduled time on SkyTrain); Perth: 94.72% (within 4 minutes of scheduled time); Melbourne: 83.3% (within 5 minutes of scheduled time)
Note: Rail punctuality in Melbourne compares poorly to best-practice cities with Public Transport Authorities.

Numerous studies have shown the importance of good governance, for example:

  • "If the governance system is inadequate the public transport plan is most unlikely to be delivered. Critical infrastructure will not be built, services will be poorly integrated and the level of service provision will remain patchy and unreliable."2;
  • "There is no region that has achieved better practice in transport delivery in Europe that is without a regional body"3;
  • "[Cities] have benefited from the creation of a single public transport authority responsible for planning routes and timetables and developing and managing common tariffs" 4, p.33, and such authorities have "contributed to a more holistic approach to transport infrastructure, for example, that ensures that new stations have provision for cyclists, bus stops have shelters, seating and passenger information, etc that makes public transport easier and more pleasant to use" 4, pp.52-53;
  • "One of the biggest challenges to implementing sustainable urban travel strategies is that of overcoming institutional and organisational barriers... Creation of a single [regional] entity may go a long way to furthering institutional co-operation, not only among planning agencies, but also with other municipal institutions... A number of urban areas around the world are looking to co-coordinated structures for solutions to tackle their travel problems..."5;
  • "Simply investing in more capacity is not the only requirement to improve public transport in Australia. Public transport is not administered and managed in Australian cities as well as in many cities overseas... Submissions to Infrastructure Australia highlighted the need for governance reform and efficiencies in the way public transport is planned and managed" 6, and "[a]n overarching transport planning and management agency, with some degree of independence from the government of the day" should be considered 7;
  • "Responsibility for delivery of Victoria's train services is fragmented across a range of Government authorities, private operators and independent statutory bodies. The Committee believes this fragmentation of responsibility may result in uncertainty in terms of the factors leading to and causes of failures in the provision of train services in Victoria...
    Evidence illustrates improvements could be made to the delivery of train services in Victoria by further streamlining of public transport governance responsibility." 8;
  • "The process that regions should undergo to move towards more sustainable urban transportation is to follow the four pillars in the order presented here: governance, financing, infrastructure and neighbourhoods." 1.

Tell your MP that we need an effective Public Transport Authority too!


  1. Kennedy, C., Miller, E., Shalaby, A., McLean, H. & Coleman, J., 2005, 'The Four Pillars of Sustainable Urban Transportation', Transport Reviews, Vol.25, No.4, pp.393-414
  2. Independent Public Inquiry, Long-Term Public Transport Plan for Sydney (2010) Independent Public Inquiry into a Long-Term Public Transport Plan for Sydney: Final Report, 26 May 2010, submitted to and published by The Sydney Morning Herald, p.83
  3. Colin Buchanan and Partners, 2003, Transferability of Best Practice in Transport Policy Delivery, Scottish Executive, Edinburgh
  4. WS Atkins 2001, European Best Practice in the Delivery of Integrated Transport: Report on Stage 3: Transferability, WS Atkins Transport Planning, Epsom
  5. European Conference of Ministers of Transport [ECMT], 2002, Implementing Sustainable Urban Travel Policies, OECD, Paris, pp.34-36 quoting:
    OECD, Overcoming institutional barriers to implementing sustainable urban travel policies
  6. A Report to the Council of Australian Governments, Infrastructure Australia, December 2008, p.45
  7. Getting the fundamentals right for Australia's infrastructure priorities, Infrastructure Australia, June 2010, p.21
  8. First Interim Report, Select Committee of the Legislative Council on Train Services, May 2010, p.39