Unlocking the Secret to Solving Public Transport: Why Your Workplace Location Matters
This is the basis of the dream of public transport advocates that encourages people to abandon their cars and use public transportation. However, the economic reality is that the vast majority of jobs are in suburban areas, which are not adequately serviced by public transport. The proportion and number of jobs in CBDs and inner cities are low, and this trend is expected to continue in the future. According to the Census, the CBD only accounts for 8.5% of the jobs in the SEQ region, while the inner city accounts for 14%, and the wider 5 km ring accounts for 21%. This means that eight out of ten people do not work in the inner city.
The public transport network's hub-and-spoke nature, which primarily serves the CBD and inner city, works for only around 10% to 15% of people with inner city or CBD jobs. Furthermore, increasing investment in public transport networks that reinforce this hub and spoke structure is unlikely to increase the proportion of people for whom public transport is a legitimate choice. Technology and the advent of work from home have caused the numbers of jobs in inner city locations to erode, while much faster job growth in health and education industries is fueling significant job growth in suburban and outer areas.
Metro Brisbane, which includes suburban business districts, strip centers, shopping centers, and other locations, accounted for over half of the regional job growth between 2011 and 2021, while the Brisbane CBD and the inner city accounted for only 6% and 10%, respectively. The geographical pattern of job growth and contraction is reshaping our cities, but much of our thinking remains rooted in the mistaken notion that “most jobs are in the inner city.” Inner-city professionals in fields such as public policy, government administration, academia, planning, property, law, engineering, and the like seem to have fallen into the trap of thinking that everyone must be like them, commuting to inner-city office towers.
A more dispersed transport network is necessary, and exploring options around electric, autonomous vehicles (including PT), along with more tunnels to move more suburban traffic (which includes, increasingly, freight) can address the problem. It is essential to move away from the hub-and-spoke model of public transport and create a more distributed system that caters to the majority of people who work in suburban areas.