Taking the Con Out of Convenience: The True Cost of Transport Modes in Sydney

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Journal Article
Urban Policy and Research, 2009, 27 (1), pp. 5 - 24
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There has been growing interest internationally in the development of comprehensive estimates of the costs of urban transport, fuelled by concerns over global warming, peak oil, road congestion, tolls and public transport subsidies. This article examines the internal and external costs of major modes in Sydney. In terms of total costs, trains are the cheapest, followed by buses, with cars the most expensive. However, the 'out-of-pocket costs' paid by motorists at the time of making a trip are less than one-sixth of total costs. This suggests rational individual travel choices do not add up to rational travel patterns for the city, and that we are paying heavily as a society for the convenience of cars. Governments need to give higher priority for public transport (particularly rail which has the lowest overall costs of any mode) and to change pricing for urban travel, if we are to develop more sustainable cities.
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