About Public Transport Authority of Western Australia
In the public transport industry, the so-called “Transperth model” – in which all aspects of bus, train and ferry services run as a single coordinated entity – is increasingly recognised as an efficiency benchmark.
What was formerly a loose arrangement between departments was formalised in 2003 when the Public Transport Authority of WA was established. This facilitated the integration and rationalisation of bus, train and ferry timetables, urban (Transperth) and regional (Transwa) services, ticketing and fare structures. The organisation also does its own (bus and train) route planning, and infrastructure construction and maintenance.
The merger also enabled the 2005 staged introduction of SmartRider, the country’s first smartcard-based cashless ticketing system. SmartRider is now used by more than 85 per cent of Transperth’s regular commuters, has a 99 per cent approval rating among all users, has been extended into multiple regional areas, and provided the platform for the highly-successful SmartParker parking payment service.
Further fuelled by WA’s resources-led economic boom, patronage soared to nudge 150 million total boardings in 2012-13, a remarkable 66 per cent higher than it was only a decade earlier in the PTA’s inaugural year. It subsequently slipped slightly as the economic downturn reduced Transperth’s core market – CBD commuters – but is still around 145m.
Despite the pressure generated by this explosion of numbers, the quality of service remains high. Transperth is among industry leaders in compliance with disability accessibility provisions and has been independently recognised as having Australia’s best rail public transport system.
Canstar Blue – a well-respected national industry pollster – has looked at public transport in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth five times in the past six years; Transperth has been the runaway winner each time. Last year Canstar gave Transperth the maximum five-star rating in six (of eight) categories (including Overall Satisfaction) and four stars in the other two. There was only one other five-star rating across the entire country.
More recently, the network has been extended north to Butler; a significant section of the city rail system was sunk to create new CBD spaces and connections; the 40-year-old central bus station made way for a new underground facility with a state-of-the-art dynamic stand management system; and a new park-and-ride station and bus interchange has been built at Aubin Grove, about half-way down the Mandurah Line.
There are two significant projects currently under way:
- a six-platform station and bus hub to service the $1 billion-plus stadium which is nearing completion on the Burswood peninsula, immediately west of the city;
- and the $2 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link – an 8.5km, three-station underground extension spurring off the Midland Line at Bayswater (a north-eastern suburb) and heading south-east through twin bored tunnels under the river and under the airport to a major new park-and-ride station and bus interchange at Forrestfield in the eastern foothills.
There is considerably more activity scheduled for the short and medium-term future – a major policy commitment of the recently-elected State Labor government is a wide-ranging expansion and revitalisation of the urban rail system, incorporating significant elements of urban planning, land use and value-capture. The METRONET taskforce has a long list of projects, with targets including:
• extending the Joondalup Line to Yanchep
• extending the Thornlie Line to Cockburn Central
• planning construction of a new Morley-Ellenbrook line
• extending the Armadale Line to Byford
• relocating Midland Station and extending the Midland Line
• building a new station at Karnup on the Mandurah line
• removing level crossings on the Armadale, Midland and Fremantle lines
• planning work for an inner suburb light rail system, improving bus services and circle routes and creating better synergies between cycling infrastructure and public transport.