SkyscraperCity banner
1 - 20 of 100 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Something I have been involved in some 'touchy' arguments to do with on a rail forum, and also on here in the past is to do with long distance commuting.

Relating to mostly people living in satellite cities (interurban territory) or the outer suburbs of a city commuting long distance to work. For example, Geelong to Melbourne, Wyong to Sydney, Ballarat to Melbourne.

Do you think that encouraging people to commute long distances is a good thing, and a solution for lack of employment in places like Geelong and the Central Coast?

Or do you think it's completely evil?

What do you consider to be 'long distance'? Is a trip like Sunbury to Melbourne or Gawler to Adelaide 'long distance' commuting? How far at maximum should people be commuting?

Is it a waste of funds and inefficient subsidising unsustainable long distance trips to work by rail etc?

Is the trend in major cities of schoolkids from all over the city commuting to private schools in the inner city a bad thing?

Discuss :banana:
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
18,522 Posts
Interesting thread BG!

#1. Coming from the UK I've got a unique perspective on this in as much as there is the "London Commuter Belt" and "London Overspill". My town fell into this category, and boy was it great having a train every 30 minutes to our capital. It encouraged leisure travel, commuting and business to be mobile and flexible.

It kept my town alive despite some difficult times when it could have become a ghost town like many rust belt cities have in the US.

#2. In Britain, it preserved the green belt of cities without making it impossible for work to occur in them. People could commute from smaller, already established towns rather than forcing the main employment centre to sprawl endlessly outwards.

#3. It had the added effect of attempting to keep property prices down in London. Can you imagine what property prices would be like there now if people couldn't live outside of London and commute in?

#4. If there is a road and it is drivable, people will probably commute anyway. Why not offer options to those people instead of forcing them to drive. This way you save widening highways and destroying communities by having a viable method of transportation available.

#5. It provides a greater mobility to the population. If people are allowed to choose where to live, work and play they're happier in general. In a personal example; greater mobility certainly directly correlated to greater happiness as it gave me the ability to hop across the country in a few hours by train and thus engage in leisure pursuits which were previously unavailable to me. However, would I enjoy the higher crime rate in London if I were to live there instead of my home town? Not necessarily. Therefore I could balance the fun of London with the safety and "small town" atmosphere of Northampton.

There are a few of my arguments and no doubt they'll be countered shortly. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
511 Posts
I know a number of people who have done or are doing the Wollongong to Sydney slog. They do not mind it so much. I have read that in parts of Europe people live up to
200km away from their workplace and simply catch a HS train to where they work. It takes me almost an hour to get to work on cityrail and I live less than 40km away from my workplace.
 

·
derp
Joined
·
10,274 Posts
Briefly:

Work: Bad

Study: Less so at a University level as there are necessarily less Universities to be able to go to. In my own circumstances, I live within spitting distance of one uni but at the time of me finishing high school only 2 universities in Sydney did my course and neither of them was the one nearby. So I had little choice but to commute over an hour.

Ultimately, you cannot stop people from commuting long distances and I do not believe that you should try. However, there is a vast difference between allowing such things to happen and encouraging them to happen. All money, time and effort that is put into encouraging such long distance commuting imho would be better spent providing jobs closer to the worker or workers closer to the jobs.

Victoria's Regional Farce Rail is a great example - massively subsidised fares to encourage people to live far away and work in Melbourne. There isn't even the opportunity for the supposed revitalisation of regional centres as services away from Melbourne in the AM and back to Melbourne in the PM are shite. But this is probably a topic for another thread.

Everyone is entitled to choose how/where they commute. But pricing policies which give huge discounts to people travelling long distances over those travelling short distances and, to a lesser extent, discounts over the true cost of travel, encourage a self-fulfilling prophecy of long distance commuting and suburban sprawl, whether its under the guise of Glenmore Park or the Central Coast. Whilst I think discounting the true cost of travel, on PT, is a necessary evil at the present time, the massive discounts for long distance travel should be abolished. I'd prefer a set amount - say 20c/km - and you pay the point-to-point distance of your trip.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
18,522 Posts
Isn't it better though, CKF, to subsidise rail than to subsidise road building? As I said in my little blurb above, people are going to end up commuting long distance if there is an option to do so, be it a road, rail, or airport. Why not subsidise regional rail instead of getting to the point where you have people in Bendigo complaining about traffic levels on the road to Melbourne and thus forcing the state government to widen the road?
 

·
derp
Joined
·
10,274 Posts
PT is the lesser of two evils, I will grant you that.

I would certainly not ever approve of subsidising road building. I guess the difference between my post and yours is where we attack the problem. I've gone for the root, you've gone for trunk - i.e. cure the problem, not the symptom ;).

Given that human behaviour is without logic and unpredictable I don't think it is any more accurate to say that long-distance commuting will be preferred by most anymore than it is accurate to say that everyone will want to live close to work.

What we can do though is make the decision more accurate than what it is by removing subsidies that do influence one decision over another.

If commuters want to live far away from work then they can pay the true cost of that decision.

There is one thing that we all should agree on is that we all want our taxes spent in the most efficient, effective and value-for-money way as possible. Hence, no freeway building and not subsidising long distance commuting to inflate the cost of providing public transport per capita.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
18,522 Posts
Take away the subsidy and people will just drive though and thus we end up in the situation whereby we'll have to build more motorways to cater for that increase in traffic. It's rather a catch 22.

I also noted from personal experience that having a commuter belt of surrounding towns helps to make housing more affordable by providing an alternative to living in the employment centre. Affordability in Melbourne is already a hot topic and increasing sprawl in that employment centre and cutting into the green belt isn't favourable. So what do you do to cure the problem?

I, personally, agree with densifying inner Melbourne, but how would you go about doing that?
 

·
derp
Joined
·
10,274 Posts
How can you say that removing subsidy would make people drive? Driving is only so "cheap" because is it subsidised.

Housing affordability is complex and something I'm not expert on. AtD is one who does have a really good grasp on the economics of it - it is simply supply and demand. Wherever it is popular to live it is going to be expensive, as housing prices are very much demand-driven rather than the actual cost it takes to build a dwelling.

What the best way of dealing with it is varies with your ideaology. A socialist might say that Government should acquire land and control the timing and cost of how dwellings are made - similar to what happens at the moment with urban sprawl. Alternative strategies could include decentralisation to reduce the pressure on the popular areas by making other areas attractive to live as well. imho you need to do several things simultaneously and Sydney is slowly doing it right, despite the best efforts of politicians to stop it.
 

·
Crazy young doge man
Joined
·
2,697 Posts
They do it in Europe, That means it is the best way to travel.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
18,522 Posts
You spoke of removing the subsidy from RFR in Victoria. Doing so would cause people to drive wouldn't it rather than pay what they might consider to be exorbitant fees?

Exactly, supply and demand. Demand increases where there is employment and therefore it will be more expensive there. If you provide alternatives, such as living in a regional town and commuting in with minimal discomfort/hassle attached to it, then demand in the employment centre will fall, causing prices to fall.

Also in response to Cruise; I'm not saying it's the answer to all of our problems simply because it is done in Europe. What I am saying is that from my own personal experience it did make my life easier, more convenient and more flexible to have the ability to commute in from a "regional" town/city to the main employment centre. I don't quite understand why anybody would be hostile to this suggestion as it seems to have more benefits than flaws, though I'll be quite happy to address any flaws you can see with that set up.
 

·
derp
Joined
·
10,274 Posts
I would not remove subsidised PT whilst driving is still unsubsidised, I thought I made that quite clear.

We seem to agree on housing affordability.

I don't have a problem with people commuting like you suggest IF they pay the true cost of that commute. Subsidising is either (a) addressing some perceived disadvantage or (b) encouragement. Thus, in the absence of (a) I don't support subsidisation of something which ultimately costs us more due to (b).
 

·
Sydney: World's best city
Joined
·
40,696 Posts
I think it depends on what the commute is for and the services that are provided and also how you use that time.

People should be travelling for no more than an hour to be honest for work or study, and I sympathise with those who have to do it (even yours truely has to do it).

I do make use of that time to read the paper, a magazine or book, perhaps even do a crossword with the radio or ipod on. Makes me feel relaxed on those trips.

Some of the trains I take are trains arriving from the Illawarra and up to half the passengers travelling to the city are usually sleeping for the 90 minute/2 hour trip to Sydney while others do similar activities. I think those services should be improved but then the NSW State Government ditches anything to make the trips shorter :bash:

When it comes to the question of providing employment - I support decentralisation because locals should have access to jobs within their communities. People should have that option if they want to be close to their homes and families and at the same time have access to the cities. The NSW Central Coast has high unemployment and there has been little incentive to create jobs there. At the end of the day, thousands are forced down the M3 to Sydney and only add to the congestion on roads in northern Sydney which are unecessary.

V-Line deserves praise because it enables Victorians to live in rural centres and be within a reasonable commute of Melbourne. There are peak hour services that take as little as 1 hour to cover the 110km distance between Ballarat and Melbourne. I have used the express services and they are a saviour to those who live out there, and you can understand why some locals keep their city based jobs.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
18,522 Posts
I would not remove subsidised PT whilst driving is still unsubsidised, I thought I made that quite clear.

We seem to agree on housing affordability.

I don't have a problem with people commuting like you suggest IF they pay the true cost of that commute. Subsidising is either (a) addressing some perceived disadvantage or (b) encouragement. Thus, in the absence of (a) I don't support subsidisation of something which ultimately costs us more due to (b).
Sorry, you did make it clear enough. It was me skim-reading your post. ;)

Yep, we've got the housing affordability thing covered so nothing more from me on that.

I, however, do support subsidy of regional travel. Economically speaking there will never be enough jobs in a regional city like Bendigo, Ballarat or even Geelong simply because they're not attractive destinations for high-impact businesses to set up in comparison to Melbourne. Universities which promote research and development are primarily centred on Melbourne and thus the academics who wish to partake in research will ultimately have to get a job in Melbourne. There are numerous examples I could use, however that will suffice for now.

This means that without some level of enticement, these regional cities will suffer economically, dwindle in population and die. Unlike the USA, Australia has been much better at trying to maintain their regional cities and keep them alive rather than abandoning them (see Flint MI and many others for examples of this), and so for this end I support encouraging people to live and commute from regional cities.

Paying full price would take away that ease and imputus for living in a regional city, cause movement of people from regional cities into the main metropolis and therefore cause unaffordable housing, a rise in poverty and cause the government to respond by sprawling. What you see in this case is exactly what happens in cities worldwide which don't have adaquate infrastructure.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
18,522 Posts
Ballarat has the national headquarters for Mars and IBM.
And I'll take it Bendigo has the national HQ for Bendigo Bank too? However, two companies do not provide adaquate employment for the entire city do they? Northampton has the national HQ for Barclaycard, the credit department of one of the largest banks in Britain, but did it mean that it was viable as a town without being part of the commuter belt? The answer to the latter is most definitely a resounding "no".

Having a couple of companies present in the city doesn't mean there is adaquate support for the population.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,233 Posts
It is a bit chicken and egg as to if business sets up where the transport hub is or the other way around. I am not sure but I suggest that if there is quick, comfortable, cheap and safe public transport available to a huge number of destinations that business would set up there and even if the distance is up to 100km with the right sort of express subway (cheap to build) it would only take half an hour. All transport closer than 10km to that hub should be by bus and all the commuter stations should be fed by many busses also.
I agree with you all that it is better to live near work but the availability of jobs seems to double the house value so people do what they got to do.
 

·
...........
Joined
·
25,836 Posts
We need a fairly equal mix of employment and residents in suburbs, therefore our CBD's need more residents and our suburbs need more employment. This will reduce the need to live a great distance from your workplace however it will still encourage higher frequency long distance travelling particularly for leisure.

Easioer said than done, however it is a better outcome than encourageing people to commute long distances creating a greater strain on services arriving or leaving major employment centres during the peak and then has dead periods outside the peak.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76,979 Posts
i love commuting 90min trip each way everyday by choo choo.
i get time to myself.
i get to catch up on sleep.
i get to read.
i get to listen to music.
luxuries
alternative? living in sydney? no way.
 

·
...........
Joined
·
25,836 Posts
I love living a 10min walk from work.

I wake up at 7am every morning. I still get time to myself as I never need 1hr for lunch. I still have plenty of time to read if I want to and I listen to music at home!

luxies
alternative? being forced to travel for 3hrs a day? no way.

lol
 

·
Perpetual Bohemian
Joined
·
3,968 Posts
My money's on Svartmetall - sorry ckf!

All theories aside, housing affordability (or quality of life for money) is the ultimate determinant. If the big city has become unaffordable for many - and it has, believe me - why punish them further with punitive fares when the jobs remain rooted to the big city? Those sorts of decisions are typically made by people with lots of money themselves (e.g. politicians, senior government planners, treasury nerds). Those on the hard side of the street often don't have the luxury of a choice.

Interesting - on the other hand - the rise of counter-commuting to Wollongong.
 
1 - 20 of 100 Posts
Top