Aussie transit solution: Something old, something new

Australia, it seems, is facing the same challenges we are when it come to transit. So says the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) report, “Balancing Infrastructure Reinvestment with System Expansion.” 

Australia’s transit experts, says the report, face these familiar problems: rising populations, traffic congestion, budget constraints, and the new imperative to be “green.”

 The Aussies are apparently using an approaching to these problem that includes balancing old tech and new tech, or as the report says “combining some very simply solutions with cutting-edge technology.”  They are, says the report, “employing a balance that is effectively getting the best from each approach.”

 On the simple solutions side is the practice of keeping transit vehicles in service past what we would consider their useful life. It’s a low tech way to maintain inventory “and it appears to work.” By doing this the Aussies cut back, or completely do away with, “the need to retrain operators or retool maintenance facilities.” What’s more, riders don’t seem to mind.  On the cutting edge side of the equation the Australians are “pushing the envelope with their use of new technologies, such as video surveillance, smart cards, and real-time schedule information on Blackberries/ personal digital assistants.”